Prayer plants, or the genus Maranta, comes from the Marantaceae family. These arrowroot shrubs comprise 31 genera and more than 530 species, making it one of the species-rich families in its order.
Considering that tons of genera belong to the Marantaceae family, it becomes hard for green thumbs to determine how many types and species there are.
Now, when it comes to prayer plant types, there are at least 20 of them.
So, if you want to know more about these prayer plant species, keep reading!
The thing is, there are hundreds of species of prayer plants.
So, before you learn about the various species, you need to understand the most common genera of prayer plants to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Well, most prayer plants belong to the Goeppertia, Maranta, Ctetanthe, and Stromanthe genera.
Now, let’s dive into them further:
Goeppertia used to be a part of the Calathea genus. However, a 2012 study that conducted a DNA analysis discovered the genetic differences between goppertia plants and calatheas.
Since then, people have considered Goppertia as a genus. It has at least 243 accepted species, and here are a few of them:
Goeppertia crocata, or the Eternal Flame plant, sports massive, dark green leaves with purple undersides. Additionally, it has yellow-orange flowers whose stems are slightly taller than the foliage.
As such, the flowers of this plant are more prominent.
Moreover, Goeppertia crocata is native to eastern Brazil, specifically Bahia and Espirito Santo. Plus, this species received an Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society as a hothouse ornamental.
Goeppertia fasciata features rounded evergreen leaves that have dark green stripes and midribs. It also has pale green or gray streaks.
The plant can grow up to 48 inches with a spread of 24 inches. In addition, it has white flowers that only bloom during the spring.
This species is native to northeast Brazil. Lastly, it’s perennial and grows primarily in wet tropical biomes.
Goeppertia elliptica, or Vittata, is native to South America, particularly French Guiana and Colombia. It has green, pointed, oval-shaped foliage that often has narrow white stripes.
In addition, the plant’s underside is light green. It also produces cream-colored flowers.
When it comes to its growth habit, its height can reach 12 inches with a spread of 8 inches.
Formerly known as Calathea musaica, Goppertia kegeljanni comes from Southeast Brazil, specifically Espirito Santo.
This plant’s foliage is unique as it has a green and yellow mosaic pattern. However, it’s only subtle, so you can only notice it when you view it closely.
Moreover, its leaves are oval and pointed with wavy margins.
It can grow up to 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Also known as the Rattlesnake Plant, Goeppertia insignis comes from the Brazilian rainforests. People usually grow these indoors as they can’t withstand cold temperatures.
Focusing on its physical characteristics, this plant has green or yellow-green foliage. It got its name “Rattlesnake” from its alternating dark green spots.
Additionally, the leaves are incredibly wavy with a purpler underside. On top of that, it can grow up to one foot tall indoors or two feet outdoors.
Maranta plants are native to Central and South America and the West Indies. The genus’s name came from Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian physician, botanist, and literary theorist.
This genus has 50 accepted species. Below are some of the popular ones:
Maranta leuconeura is probably the species that most people think of whenever they hear “prayer plant.”
This plant has white-veined leaves that exhibit a diurnal or circadian rhythm. It’s a habit of lying flat during the daytime and becoming erect at night.
Moreover, Maranta leuconeura produces small, white flowers during the growing season. On the other hand, its foliage is broad, oval-shaped, and has two colors.
There are spots on the leaves whose color ranges from green, brown, or dark gray.
Maranta bicolor is a perennial plant that’s native to eastern Brazil. It has a clump-forming habit, meaning it produces several shoots in a bunch.
On top of that, it features oval, dark green leaves that have light green margins. Additionally, the underside is a pale purple color.
The plant can grow up to 9 inches tall with a spread of 15 inches. Like other Maranta species, the bicolor variant also displays circadian rhythm.
Maranta gibba comes from Mexico, northern South America, and the Island of Trinidad. It’s a perennial plant with oval-shaped leaves, so the structure is broader at the base than the midpoint.
The plant develops flowers in panicles. Moreover, it produces gibbous fruits, meaning it’s more swollen in one place than another.
Maranta arundinaceae, also known as hulankeeriya or obedience plant, is a large herb found in rainforests. This is the shrub used to create arrowroot flour, a fantastic alternative to cornstarch for people allergic to corn.
Moreover, Maranta arundinaceae sport narrow, oval-shaped leaves that almost resemble a lance’s head. On top of that, it has edible rhizomes.
The plant is capable of producing clusters of small white flowers, too. It blooms three months after planting.
Ctenanthe is another genus from the Marantaceae family. They’re endemic to South America, primarily Brazil, as well as Central and South America.
Since this genus is cold-hardy, it can withstand cooler climates.
A common characteristic of this genus is that almost all of its species have variegated foliage.
With that said, here are some of the species belonging to the Ctenanthe genus:
Popularly known as Bamburanta or the Never-Never plant, the Ctenanthe lubbersiana is an evergreen perennial with branching bamboo-like stems. It has oblong green leaves spotted with gold and cream.
It can grow up to three feet tall and four feet wide. Plus, it produces white and inconspicuous tubular flowers.
In fact, this species has been a staple for indoor settings during the 60s and 70s.
Ctenanthe burle marxii has long, oval-shaped gray-green leaves with a unique fishbone pattern. As such, this species also go by the name Fishbone prayer plant.
Its foliage may reach up to 12 inches in length. Plus, the plant grows best in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12.
While the plant isn’t famous for its flowers, it produces clusters during early spring that appear at the end of the long stalks.
Ctetanthe setosa, or the “Grey-Star” plant, has narrow, elliptical leaves with a pale silver hue. On top of that, it has darker leaf veins with purple undersides.
It has a dark green herringbone pattern, making it a unique piece to add to your plant collection.
The plant also has a clump-forming growth habit. Additionally, it can grow up to five feet tall and three feet wide.
Ctenanthe oppenheimiana, or the Giant Bamburanta is endemic to Northeast Brazil. People commonly find this plant in tropical forests and jungles.
The foliage of Giant Bamburanta has a light or dark green pattern. It has a red-purple underside too.
Additionally, the light stripes are even, often forked towards the midrib. Another feature of this plant is that the stems don’t have branches.
The most popular cultivar is the Tricolor. Its foliage’s colors are white, green, and red.
Also known as Golden Variegated Ctenanthe, Ctenanthe pilosa is native to South America. This plant is famous for its gorgeous variegated foliage.
Its foliage has two colors: dark green and yellow-green. Considering that the leaves have variegation, each leaf has a different pattern.
The plant grows from an underground rhizome, which serves as a nutrient and water reservoir. Plus, it can reach up to eight inches tall.
Stromanthe is a genus in the Marantaceae family that’s endemic to Mexico, Trinidad, and northern Argentina.
Like other genera, Stromanthe plants are also reactive to light. So, during the day, the plants lower their foliage. At night time, their leaves become erect.
Here are a few Stromanthe species:
Stromanthe thalia has dark green, narrow, lance-shaped foliage with pale midribs. It also has reddish-purple undersides.
Its other name is S.sanguinea. The epithet “sanguinea” refers to the blood-colored underside. It’s the reason why people call this plant the “bloody prayer plant” as well.
Moreover, the plant has various cultivars, one of the most popular is the “Triostar.” The foliage of this variant has three colors: pink, white, and green.
Another example is the “Magic Star” cultivar. Its unique characteristic is that the foliage has cream-colored specks.
Lastly, there’s also the “Horticolor” variant. The foliage of this cultivar is dark green with specks of cream, light green, yellow, and pink shades.
People often plant Stromanthe stromatoides outside. Many consider this as one of the most attractive plants because it has rich green, long, yet elegant leaves.
A common cultivar you’ll often find is the Stromanthe stromatoides “Charlie.” It exhibits oblong, medium-green foliage that has extreme variegation.
Most of the time, the variegation has three colors, which are pink, white, and green. Moreover, the plant can grow up to 48 inches tall.
Now you know the different prayer plant types.
Since hundreds of species exist in the Mantaraceae family, it’s vital to know the different genera. It’ll help you decide as to what specific type of plant that you want to add to your collection.
After all, prayer plants are incredibly gorgeous, and they’re worth taking care of! Watching the leaves lie low during the day and become erect during the night is fun!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.