Are all Calatheas Prayer Plants?

Are all Calatheas Prayer Plants? Learn About Their Creative Dance

Are all Calatheas Prayer Plants? Nope, not all Calatheas are prayer plants. Calathea is a genus of plants in the Marantaceae family and includes several species, of which Calathea orbifolia, Calathea zebrina, and Calathea rufibarba are commonly referred to as prayer plants.

Plants that are actually known as prayer plants are species within the Marantaceae family, including species from the genera Maranta and Calathea.

Some of the most well-known species called prayer plants include Maranta leuconeura, Calathea orbifolia, Calathea zebrina, and Calathea rufibarba. These plants are called prayer plants because the leaves of the plant fold upwards at night, resembling praying hands.

A prayer plant is a tropical houseplant known for its distinctive habit of folding its leaves upwards in the evening, as if in prayer, hence the name.

The scientific name for the prayer plant is Maranta leuconeura, a member of the Marantaceae family.

Nyctinasty- Why Prayer Plants Move

Calathea Burle MarxPrayer plants move their leaves because of a process known as nyctinasty, which is the automatic response of plants to changes in light and dark cycles.

The movement helps the plant to regulate its exposure to light and maintain its energy balance.

In the case of prayer plants, the leaves fold upwards at night and open again during the day in response to changes in light intensity.

This behavior is an adaptation that helps the plant conserve energy and reduce water loss by reducing its surface area exposed to light and air currents.

The precise mechanism that causes the leaves to move has yet to be fully understood. Still, it involves changes in turgor pressure, the buildup of elastic tension in the leaves, and the action of specialized cells known as motor cells.

Other plant families and genera that exhibit nyctinasty include:

Mimosaceae: plants from the genus Mimosa, such as Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant)
Leguminosae: plants from the genus Albizia, such as Albizia julibrissin (silk tree)
Oxalidaceae: plants from the genus Oxalis, such as Oxalis triangularis (purple shamrock)
Araceae: plants from the genus Epipremnum, such as Epipremnum aureum (pothos)
Convolvulaceae: plants from the genus Ipomoea, such as Ipomoea tricolor (morning glory)

These are plants similar to calathea but from different species.  These plants have nyctinastic leaves as a way to protect themselves from herbivores, conserve water, and adjust to changes in light and temperature.

Are Calathea and Maranta the Same?

No, Calathea and Maranta are not the same. Calathea and Maranta are genera of plants in the Marantaceae family, but they are distinct and separate genera with unique characteristics and species.

What is the difference between Calathea and Maranta plants?

Calathea is a genus of tropical plants known for its striking, decorative leaves that come in various patterns and colors, including green, purple, and striped.  So if you remember the question – are all Calatheas prayer plants- the answer is no.

Calathea species are typically grown for their unique foliage and used as ornamental plants in homes, offices, and greenhouses.

Maranta, on the other hand, is a genus of plants that is native to the tropical Americas and is commonly known for its striking, velvety leaves that come in a variety of colors, including green, red, and variegated.

Maranta species are also grown for their foliage and are used as ornamental plants.

Calathea vs Maranta Care

In addition to nyctinasty, prayer plants are also known for their attractive foliage. They have large, oval leaves with distinctive markings, such as stripes or spots, that come in various shades of green, red, and purple.

When grown indoors, prayer plants make great houseplants. They are low-maintenance and easy to care for but require bright, indirect light, high humidity, and regular watering.

They are also sensitive to environmental changes and may react to stress by drooping or yellowing leaves.

  • Light: These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sun as it can burn their leaves.
  • Water: Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly before watering again.
  • Humidity: These plants thrive in high-humidity environments. You can increase humidity by grouping plants together, misting them regularly, or placing a water tray near them.
  • Temperature: Keep Calathea and Maranta in a warm, steady temperature between 60-85°F (16-29°C).
  • Soil: Use a well-draining, peat-based potting mix.
  • Fertilizer: Feed monthly during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Note: Be mindful of the specific type of Calathea or Maranta you have, as some varieties may have slightly different care requirements.

To keep your prayer plant healthy, it is crucial to provide it with the right growing conditions, such as well-draining soil, high humidity, and regular watering.

You should also avoid exposing it to sudden changes in temperature or light intensity and provide it with adequate moisture by misting it regularly or placing a tray of water near the plant.

Other Unique Features Plants Exhibit Like nyctinasty

In addition to nyctinasty, some other unique features plants exhibit include phototropism (the growth or movement of a plant in response to light), thigmotropism (the change or movement of a plant in response to touch), and heliotropism (growth or movement of a plant in response to the sun).

These behaviors are part of the plant’s adaptation to its environment and help it survive.

So, while not all Calatheas are prayer plants, they may still exhibit some unique features! All in all, prayer plants demonstrate an exciting adaptation worth looking into further.

It’s a great way to learn more about how plants interact with their environment and how plants can survive in the wild. So, keep an eye out for prayer plants – you never know what other secrets these tropical wonders hold!

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