Prayer plants are some of the most beautiful 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 is an excellent choice.
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Prayer Plant Overview
|Common Name(s)||Prayer plant|
|Scientific Name||Maranta leuconeura|
|Origin||Central and south america, and the west indies|
|Height||Up to 3 feet|
|Light||Bright, indirect sun|
|Propagation||Stems or cutting|
|Pests||Spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids|
Maranta leuconeura has wide oval-shaped leaves that are dark green 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.
The 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 Maranta leuconeura:
This is the classic Maranta leuconeura prayer plant variety.
Maranta leuconeura var. leuconeura
The black variety of this plant has a bluish-silver color on the leaves, with purple spots and a deep green leaf.
Maranta leuconeura ‘Kim’ source
‘Kim’ is a purple-spotted variety of prayer plant. Aside from the purple spots, the leaves have a cream-white streak for extra flair.
Maranta leuconeura ‘Marisela’ source
The leaves are a lighter shade of green, and the markings are an even lighter green — almost a cream-green color.
Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura
Dark green leaves with purple-patterned markings. The veins are a deep blood-red color.
Prayer Plant Care
Maranta care is slightly more complicated than easier houseplants like pothos or dracaena.
Once you get the hang of it though, you should have no problem giving them what they need to thrive.
Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of the prayer plant and can quickly kill the plant. It prefers bright but indirect sunlight and is generally tolerant of lower light areas.
Prayer plants do not like to be dry. Keep the soil evenly moist all of the time, but never let it get soggy. When watering, use water that is at least at room temperature if not slightly warm.
In the winter months, reduce watering.
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:
- 1 part perlite or coarse sand
- 1 part garden soil
- 1 part peat or humus
- 1 pinch of lime dust
To improve drainage, add rocks or gravel to the bottom of your pot and be sure that the pot has a drainage hole.
During the growing season (spring through fall), prayer plants should be fed every two weeks. Use a high quality water-soluble houseplant food.
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 a pot 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.
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 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 the plant from time to time.
If the tips of the leaves are turning brown or curling up, the 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.
Goal: To answer common problems and questions about planting, caring for, harvesting, or storing this plant.
Q. How do I keep the humidity high enough for my prayer plant to thrive?
A. A daily misting can help provide the plant with the humidity it needs that may not be present in your home. You can also set a container of water near the plant, the evaporating water will give the plant some added humidity.
Q. The leaves of my prayer plant are curling even in the daytime…what’s going on?
A. It’s unhappy about something, likely too much light and a pot that is too big. Try re-potting in a smaller pot, increasing humidity, and decreasing the amount of light you are giving it.
Q. I’m having problems with the soil for my prayer plant. What should I change?
A. Prayer plants really love soil that drains well, so you should probably add some gravel, perlite, or coarse sand to it to improve drainage. Be sure you’re not over-watering and that your post has a drainage hole as well.