Native to the tropical forests of Brazil, prayer plants are some of the most beautiful indoor houseplants you can find. They’re great in hanging baskets as they spread low and wide.
Whether you’re just starting out with houseplants or an an expert grower, the prayer plant Maranta leuconeura is an excellent choice. Learn how to grow prayer plant in our care guide.
Prayer Plant Overview
|Common Name(s)||Prayer plant|
|Scientific Name||Maranta leuconeura|
|Origin||Central America, South America, West Indies|
|Height||Up to 3 feet|
|Light||Bright, indirect sun|
|Propagation||Stems or cutting|
|Pests||Spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids|
The prayer plant has wide, oval-shaped, dark green leaves with white or light green running down the spine of the leaf. The veins that run up the leaves can be several shades of red, as are the undersides of the leaves.
Prayer plant gets it’s name for it’s unique habit of raising their leaves to an upright position at night time. The leaves fold together like hands during prayer!
Types of Prayer Plant
There are around 40-50 different species of prayer plant, but the most common by far is Maranta leuconeura. Here are a few varieties of prayer plant Maranta leuconeura:
This is the classic prayer plant Maranta leuconeura variety, also known as red prayer plant.
The black variety of prayer plant has a bluish-silver color on the leaves, with purple spots and a deep green leaf.
‘Kim’ is a purple-spotted variety of prayer plant. Aside from the purple spots, the leaves have a cream-white streak for extra flair.
The leaves are a lighter shade of green, and the markings are an even lighter green — almost a cream-green color.
Dark green leaves with purple-patterned markings. The veins are a deep blood-red color. Also known as the red prayer plant, or red stripe prayer plant.
Prayer Plant Care
Maranta care is slightly more complicated than easier houseplants like pothos or dracaena.
To grow prayer plant, be sure to Once you get the hang of it though, you should have no problem giving them what they need to thrive.
Light & Temperature
Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of the prayer plant and can quickly kill the plant. It prefers bright but indirect sunlight during the day and is generally tolerant of lower light areas, as long as there is good air flow.
Water & Humidity
To grow prayer plant best, realize they do not like to be dry. Keep the soil evenly moist all of the time, but never let the roots get soggy. When watering, use water that is at least at room temperature if not slightly warm.
In the winter months, reduce watering as a dry cold winter causes prayer plant to go dormant and it will need less water to grow well.
A general purpose houseplant potting soil can be used, so long as it is well-draining. If you’re using soil that doesn’t drain well, add perlite or coarse sand to the mixture.
To mix your own soil for prayer plants, use:
To improve drainage, add rocks or gravel to the bottom of your pot and be sure that it has a drainage hole.
During the growing season of spring through fall, prayer plants should be fed every two weeks. Use a high quality water-soluble houseplant food. In winter, fertilize less as conditions are not conducive to growth.
You shouldn’t need to re-pot your prayer plant often. However, when it becomes root-bound in its pot, it will grow much slower.
If you re-pot, choose one that is 1-2″ wider than the existing pot. Simply remove it from the current pot and put it in the new pot with a bit of extra soil mix. Water well and your prayer plant will grow easy and fast.
If you want to encourage more vigorous growth, you can prune your prayer plant. Use a sterilized pair of garden scissors and clip the stems right above a leaf node.
The prayer plant will respond by sending out new shoots directly below the cut area, making for a bushier appearance!
Propagating prayer plants is surprisingly easy, given how finicky they can be to care for!
All you need to do is make a stem cutting below a leaf node. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone and place in a glass of water, making sure to change it every two days or so.
You can also insert the cutting directly into potting soil…just be sure to keep the soil moist and mist your prayer plant from time to time.
If the tips of the leaves are turning brown or curling up, your prayer plant is getting too much light. Another cause for brown tips can also be the chlorine found in tap water. Use filtered water or let water sit for 24 hours before watering the plant.
Most of the common houseplant pests can infest prayer plants, but spider mites are the most common. The silver lining is that prayer plants like high humidity, while spider mites hate it! So as long as you’re keeping humidity high, you shouldn’t have many problems with them.
If you notice water-soaked spots on your leaves, you are almost certainly dealing with helminthosporium leaf spot. This disease can decimate your prayer plant if not controlled. The easiest way to fix it is to stop over-watering the plant and avoid getting the leaves too wet. You can also use neem oil to kill an existing outbreak.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I keep the humidity high enough for my prayer plant to thrive?
A daily misting can help provide the prayer plant with the humidity it needs that may not be present in your home. You can also set a container of water near the prayer plant, as the evaporating water will increase the humidity.
Q. The leaves of my prayer plant are curling even in the daytime…what’s going on?
It’s a sign conditions aren’t ideal, so try less light throughout the day, and examine the root zone for a healthy medium amount of moisture in the soil.
Q. I’m having problems with the soil for my prayer plant. What should I change?
Prayer plants really love soil conditions that drain well, so you should probably add some gravel, perlite, or coarse sand to it to increase drainage. Be sure you’re not over-watering and that your container has a drainage hole as well.
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