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Plants that go to sleep. Do you already have a praying mantis at home?

You may know them under the name "praying plants" or "praying plants", but we are talking about two plants that you definitely have at home or often see on store shelves. Maranta and Calathea . Popular and unpopular maids that you either love or can't even see. Because of their demands, they do not suit every grower. They require increased air humidity, which means that they do not do well in every apartment, but if you have suitable home conditions for these plants, you will especially appreciate the beautiful coloring of the non-traditional leaves of the arrowroot.

Why are they actually called praying mantises ? Both plants go to sleep. This means that at night both species droop and clasp their leaves in such a way that they can resemble a hand gesture in prayer. Often people think that the plant is wilting and failing, but this is a completely normal process and nothing to worry about. Among these types of plants we can also include the well-known species Oxalis Triangularis , which does not resemble a prayer, but at night it literally squeezes its leaves together and lays the whole stems completely down, which can at first look like the plant has withered. However, this is not the case, the plant is only sensitive to light and sleeps. In the morning he gets up again and opens the leaves. Most species of praying mantises, especially the above-mentioned 3 species of rose, do not contain toxins that are harmful, therefore we can classify them as plants suitable for pets .


Arrowroot is also a very developed type of plant that also comes from South and Central America. It is often confused with Calathea, as both species are related and very similar. The biggest difference is that arrowroots are more clinging and groundcover plants, while calathea is an upright species, so it tends to grow taller. Arrowroots have beautiful oval leaves with a very wide range of colors. Unlike calathea, this plant grows very slowly. Arrowroot flowers in the summer with small, inconspicuous flowers.

Photo: Calathea Makoyana with brightly colored leaves


Calathea is a diverse species that brings many colorful cultivars and will take its place in any interior. The name of this plant comes from the Greek word "kalathos", which means "basket". The growth of the leaves of this plant resembles a cone before opening, which looks like a basket. However, the plant comes from South America, specifically from Brazil. One of the most common types is Calathea Zebrina or Calathea rufibarba . Many types of calathea bloom from spring to summer, and the color and shape of the inflorescences vary from species to species. The shape of the calathea is rather more upright and the leaves are larger compared to the maranta.

How to care for praying mantises so that they grow beautifully?

It must be said that both calathea and arrowroot belong more to growers who know more about plants. For beginners, you need to arm yourself with patience and not give up. Both species require increased air humidity , which we don't all have at home. These plants may not thrive, especially in a dry block of flats. But if you have the right conditions, they will make hits at home and, over time, a good volume. Let's see how to care for them.

Light conditions

Maranta and calathea are not suitable for direct sun , it would burn their leaves. They are rather plants suitable for indirect diffused light up to partial shade. Too much light will cause their leaves to fade. The most ideal place can be the northern and eastern parts closer to the windows, where the sun will not do us any harm and they will have enough diffused light. But they can be satisfied with the location even further from the windows. But they don't grow well in the dark.

Photo: Dry leaf of calathea.

Humidity and environment

Both species come from the forests of America. That's why they love high air humidity and they are also satisfied with regular dewing of the leaves, which refreshes the plant and at the same time washes off the settled dust, which settles relatively easily, especially on calathea, a larger number of them have finely hairy leaves that trap dust. The ideal room temperature is around 20 degrees and in winter it should not fall below 10 degrees Celsius. In a dry environment, the plants do not do well, the edges of the leaves begin to dry out and then the whole. The plant will wither until it can leave entirely. For these plants, recovery takes much longer, because they bloom more slowly. Neither Calathea nor arrowroot are suitable plants for the summer, they like their place in an apartment in a humid environment. Even moving around the apartment may not do them any good.

Substrate and transplanting

Both Calathea and Maranta prefer more acidic soil. They are evidenced by a peat base or even peat itself. They usually grow very well in potting soil. It is good to fertilize the plant regularly. We transplant the plants approximately once every 1-2 years, when the plant has completely filled the pot with its roots.


For both plants, the substrate should never dry out. It is good to keep it still moist, but not too wet. In the summer months, we can water the plant more abundantly. It is worth watering the plants with standing or boiled water. Otherwise, white spots may form on the plants and the plant will weaken. It is caused by the excessive content of calcium, which is mainly contained in hard water from our taps.

Although we can love terracotta pots more than anything, these 2 plants can only be grown in them at your own risk, a terracotta pot will cause the substrate to dry out faster and if there is a slight delay in watering, it can have unfortunate consequences for the plant. If you don't want to risk anything, it's better to choose an airtight flower pot and create a drainage made of expanded clay to drain the water.

Photo: Marantha Light Veins


Calathea is propagated relatively easily by separating the bunches. When young, the plant grows faster, so if you have a large bunch, don't be afraid to separate more parts from the edges of the plant and plant them in smaller pots, the root system will fill the pot in a few weeks and new stems will start to come out, soon you will have a smaller independent plant.

Maranta can also be separated by bunches, but unlike calathea, you can also cut it well. The important thing is to cut the branch with the leaf so that it contains a growth point that will take root in the water.

And what about pests?

Like many other houseplants, praying mantises are susceptible to some specific pests. Calathea in particular is very susceptible to mealybugs , which you will almost never discover until it is almost too late. The leaves begin to wither and dry inconspicuously, small spots and cobwebs appear out of nowhere. Vertimec will reliably help you with such a pest. Worms and aphids can sometimes appear, which you can usually see with the eye, creating white tufts in the axils of the leaves or in the lower part of the leaves, and Careo Substral spray can reliably deal with them. We recommend regularly checking the plants closely and especially on the underside of the leaves.

Haven't we discouraged you yet?

It may seem that these two types of plants are so demanding that it is perhaps better not to have them at home. But that's not the case. Many of us have surely seen, for example, the Maranta Fascinator at our grandmothers' home on the shelf, and it certainly wasn't ugly. You need to think in particular about a good location for the plant, where it will have the right light and the right humidity. Then your plant will probably grow great.

Maranta as a display cabinet of colors

When looking at arrowroot, you may be most interested in the color of its leaves, which is the greatest beauty of this plant, their color structure is very unusual compared to other plants. Maranta Fascinator and MarantaLeuconeura Kerchoveana are among the most common arrowroots. But this type of plant also has several types of relatively rare, i.e. rarer pieces, which are a feast for the eyes with their color. You shouldn't miss Maranta Lemon Lime or the even rarer Maranta Noid on your home shelf. You can find all our types of arrowroot here .

Photo: Calathea White Fusion has the coloring of the leaves, as if they were painted by a painter on a canvas.

Calathea as a dominant in the apartment?

Calathea has species that can require quite a lot of space due to their size. It is usually nothing compared to the giant Monstera deliciosa , however, even Calathea can grow to large sizes in a few years, some species have quite massive leaves. A very popular species is Calathea rufibarba with its wavy dark green and slender leaves. Similar to this cultivar is Calathea Lancifolia , which has the same structure, but completely different colored leaves of a lighter color with prominent dark green dots. Calathea Warscewiczii , which has very dark leaves with pink to wine-colored stems, is among the more robust and at the same time rarer species. Its leaves are considerably wider. Rare and highly sought after species include the variegated species Calathea White Fusion and its relative Calathea Yellow Fusion . You can find all available species here .

Author: Martin Seidl

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