CHARACTERISTICS: Prayer plants
derive their common name from the orientation of their leaves when at rest
in darkness, a vertical position that makes them look like hands in prayer.
In light the leaves are held horizontally. The plants are especially interesting
when grown beneath a table lamp. When the light is turned on after dark,
the "sleeping" leaves awaken and spread to their horizontal position in
a matter of minutes, then become vertical again after the light is turned
off. Two fine varieties grow 6 to 8 inches tall. M. leuconeura 'Kerchoveana',
called rabbit tracks, has grayish green leaves that, when young, have reddish
brown spots resembling animal tracks running parallel to the central ribs.
As the leaves age, the tracks become dark green on the topsides of the
leaves. M. leuconeura 'Massangeana', Massange's prayer plant, has leaves
that are noted for the fishbone pattern of their veins and for their purple
HOW TO GROW: Prayer plants do best in bright indirect or curtain-filtered sunlight; if only artificial light is available, provide at least 400 foot-candles. Night temperatures of 65° to 70° and day temperatures of 75° to 85° are ideal. Keep the soil moist at all times except in winter, when it should be allowed to dry a bit between light waterings; newly potted plants should be watered lightly until new growth begins, then should be kept moist. Repot annually in early spring, using a mixture of 1 part loam, 1 part peat moss or leaf mold and 1 part sharp sand; to each gallon pailful of this mixture add 1 1/2 teaspoons of 20 per cent superphosphate, 1 tablespoon of ground limestone and 2 teaspoons of 5-10-5 fertilizer. Otherwise, use a packaged general-purpose potting soil. Wait at least three to four months before feeding newly potted plants, then feed them every two months until fall; do not feed the rest of the year. Propagate new plants by dividing the roots in early spring. Watch for spider mites.