Herringbone Plant – Maranta leuconeura erythroneura

The striking patterns and bold colours of the Herringbgne Plant’s leaves make it one of the most attractive foliage plants in any collection. It also has the unusual habit of partially folding its leaves up at night.

In time a Herringbone Plant grows to about 30cm (1ft) high and about as wide. It gains about half a dozen leaves a year.

The Herringbone Plant has short stems, the bases of which are sheathed. The leaves borne on the stems grow up to 15cm (6in) long and 9cm (3½in) wide and, characteristically, are approximately elliptical in shape.

Each leaf of the Herringbone Plant is boldly patterned. The outer part of each leaf is light green, but closer to the centre the leaf is a dark green. In the centre is an irregularly defined section coloured light greenish yellow.

Down the centre of the leaf is a red vein which has red veins branching off it to the edges of the leaf. These veins give the plant its characteristic look and have led to it being christened the Herringbone Plant. The plant produces insignificant flowers.Herringbone Plant - Maranta leuconeura erythroneura

Propagation

A Herringbone Plant can be propagated either by division or by taking cuttings.

Division

Divide in spring by hand into several new plants.

Repot the newly divided plants in smaller pots containing the adult, soil-based compost. Treat as adult plants straight away.

Cuttings

Take a cutting of a stem with a few leaves in summer. Trim off any sheaths: put the cutting into an 8cm (3in) pot holding a moist equal-parts mix of sand and peat moss. Put a polythene bag over the pot and place in a warm, shady spot. When rooting occurs about a month later, put in a pot with the adult compost and treat as a mature plant.

Pests And Diseases

Leaves mottling and becoming pale with silky webbing underneath means an attack by red spider mites.

Treatment: Move the afflicted plant away from others to stop the mites spreading and spray it with a suitable insecticide. Spray again after three days and then again ten days later. An attack can be prevented by mist spraying the plant frequently, as red spider mites thrive in dry air. Remove badly affected leaves and stems and destroy them.

Brown blotches on the tips of the leaves could be caused by dry air. Treatment: Make sure the atmosphere around the Herringbone Plant is moist. It is a good idea to mist it every day or to stand the pot on a container of pebbles that are kept moist.

Brown patches on the leaves can mean the plant is getting burnt by strong, direct sun.

Treatment: Move the plant to a position where it gets good, indirect light without direct sun.

PLANT CARE

The Herringbone Plant is relatively easy to look after, providing it is kept warm and in a humid atmosphere in the active growing period.

  • Potting: Pot in soil-based potting compost in a well-drained, shallow pot. Repot in spring into a pot one size larger.
  • Water generously during the active growing period and sparingly in the winter.
  • Feeding: Apply a half-strength mixture of liquid fertilizer every 14 days during the active growing period.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light:The Herringbone Plant does best in bright indirect light. Direct sun causes leaf fade and scorching.
  • Temperature: The ideal temperature all year round is between 180— 21°C (65°-70°F). At this temperature the air must be humid so stand the pot on a tray containing moist pebbles or mist spray every day with soft water. Keep at above 13°C (55°F) in winter.

Buying Tips

  • A Herringbone Plant should be available at most times of the year from nurseries and garden centres.
  • Look for a plant with brightly patterned and coloured leaves.
  • The plant can live for quite a while in good conditions and can be divided every few years.

The Herringbone Plant is grown for its unusual and attractive leaves. Not only are they brightly patterned but they also fold up at night.

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