“As we all take a collective breath and look to a hopeful year ahead, it was important that we select a plant that reflects the optimism we see for 2021,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers. “Chosen for its symbolism of gratitude, the red maranta prayer plant, with its leaves that fold like hands in thankfulness at night, encourages us to connect with others and make the most of life’s special moments.” 1-800-Flowers also named the sunflower ($40+) as 2021 flower of the year.
Shop now: Red Maranta Prayer Plant ($55)
The red maranta prayer plant ($55) is a good fit for most people, green-thumbed or not. When cared for properly, its leaves display a striking and distinct pattern with hints of red.
“While some varieties of this houseplant, also known as the calathea, have a reputation for being temperamental, the red maranta prayer plant is relatively easy-to-care-for,” says Palomares. “Novice plant parents will do just fine so long as they monitor their plant for signs that it needs attention.”
The red maranta prayer plant thrives best when exposed to bright, indirect sunlight light. If exposed to full sun, the leaf could fade in color and potentially burn, so aim to place it in a north or east-facing window. It’s also vital that its soil never dries out thoroughly, so you should touch the top few inches of the soil regularly and water it when it feels dry. “When giving it a drink, use lukewarm water and make sure to water the soil directly rather than pouring over the leaves,” says Palomares. “However, be mindful not to overwater, as this can cause root rot. If it receives too much water, its leaves will begin to turn yellow.”
This plant is native to the tropics, so it loves high humidity. “The bathroom is actually a good place in the house for it to live,” says Palomares. If your space is pretty dry, he recommends placing it next to a humidifier or sitting the potted plant over a tray filled with water and pebbles to boost its moisture. It also loves a good misting, especially during the winter months, so be sure to keep a plant mister ($13) on hand.
“While the red maranta prayer plant is easy-to-care-for—low maintenance does not mean no maintenance,” says Palomares. As with any plant, as long as you give it the love it needs, the red maranta prayer plant is bound to thrive.
Learn more about how caring for plants can be a form of self-care:
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