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Prayer Plant: A Beginner's Guide to Growing and Caring

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About Prayer Plant

The Prayer Plant is a tropical herbaceous plant known for its beautiful, colorful leaves. It is a member of the Marantaceae family, which includes other popular houseplants such as the Calathea and the Stromanthe.

The Prayer Plant gets its name from the way its leaves fold together at night, as if in prayer. The Prayer Plant is native to the rainforests of Brazil, where it grows in the understory of the forest, receiving dappled sunlight and plenty of moisture. In cultivation, it is prized for its attractive foliage, which can be green, red, pink, or purple, depending on the variety. It is also known for its air-purifying qualities, as it can help remove harmful chemicals from the air.

Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant

CharacteristicDescription

Scientific name

Maranta leuconeura

Common names

Prayer Plant, Herringbone Plant, Maranta

Family

Marantaceae

Native to

Rainforests of Brazil

Growth habit

Herbaceous, creeping

Leaves

Oval-shaped, colorful (green, red, pink, purple), fold together at night

Flowers

Small, white, inconspicuous

Propagation

By division or stem cuttings

Light

Bright indirect light, avoid direct sun

Water

Keep soil evenly moist, avoid over-watering

Temperature

Warm (65-75°F / 18-24°C)

Humidity

High (60-80%)

Toxicity

Non-toxic to humans and pets

Air-purifying

Yes

Prayer Plant Care

Light

The Prayer Plant prefers bright indirect light, but can also tolerate low light conditions. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves and cause them to fade or lose their color. The plant will also grow more slowly in low light, so if you want it to thrive and maintain its vibrant foliage, provide it with enough light to support its growth.

Soil

The Prayer Plant prefers a well-draining potting mix that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. A good option is a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and sand, which provides the plant with the right balance of aeration, moisture, and nutrients. You can also add a slow-release fertilize to the potting mix to provide the plant with a steady supply of nutrients.

Water

The Prayer Plant likes evenly moist soil, but be careful not to over-water it. Over-watering can cause root rot, which can kill the plant. Instead, water the plant consistently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. You can check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil – if it feels dry to the touch, it's time to water.

Temperature and Humidity

The Prayer Plant is a tropical plant and likes warm temperatures, between 65-75°F (18-24°C). It also prefers high humidity, between 60-80%, which can be challenging to maintain in a typical indoor environment. To increase the humidity around the plant, you can mist the leaves regularly or place the pot on a tray of moist pebbles. This will help the plant stay healthy and prevent its leaves from drying out or getting damaged.

Fertilizer

The Prayer Plant benefits from regular fertilization, especially during the growing season (spring and summer). Use a balanced liquid fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 formula, and dilute it to half-strength. Apply the fertilizer once a month, following the instructions on the package. Too much fertilizer can burn the roots and damage the plant, so be careful not to over-fertilize.

Repotting

Over time, the Prayer Plant will outgrow its pot and need to be repotted into a larger container. This is especially important if the plant has become root-bound, which can happen if the pot is too small or the soil has become compacted. To repot the plant, carefully remove it from its pot, gently loosen the roots, and transplant it into a new pot with fresh potting mix. Repotting the plant every couple of years will help it continue to grow and thrive.

Here are some tips for caring for a Prayer Plant:

  • Choose a pot with drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix, such as a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and sand.
  • Place the plant in a location with bright indirect light, avoiding direct sun, which can scorch the leaves.
  • Water the plant evenly and consistently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Avoid over-watering, which can cause root rot.
  • Increase the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves regularly or placing the pot on a tray of moist pebbles.
  • Fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
  • Pinch off any dead or damaged leaves and stems as needed, and repot the plant every couple of years to refresh the soil and provide room for growth.

By following these care tips, you can help your Prayer Plant thrive and enjoy its beautiful, colorful leaves for many years to come. It is also a good idea to research the specific variety of Prayer Plant that you have, as some varieties may have slightly different care requirements.

prayer-plant-a-beginners-guide-to-growing-and-caring

How to Propagate Prayer Plants

Prayer plants can be propagated by division or by rooting stem cuttings in soil or water. Here are the steps for each method:

Propagating by Division

  1. First, choose a healthy, mature prayer plant that has multiple stems.
  2. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
  3. Use your fingers or a sharp knife to carefully divide the root ball into smaller sections, making sure each section has at least one stem and some healthy roots.
  4. Plant each division in its own pot filled with moist, well-draining potting soil.
  5. Place the pots in a warm, well-lit location, but not in direct sunlight.
  6. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and mist the plants regularly to keep the leaves hydrated.
  7. After a few weeks, you should see new growth on the plants. Once they are established, you can gradually move them to a location with more light, and continue to care for them as you would a mature prayer plant.

Propagating by Stem Cuttings

  1. Choose a healthy, mature prayer plant and use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to take 4-6 inch stem cuttings from the plant. Make sure each cutting has at least two sets of leaves.
  2. Remove the bottom set of leaves from each cutting to expose the nodes (the small bumps on the stem where new roots will grow from).
  3. Fill a small pot with moist, well-draining potting soil and make a hole in the soil with your finger or a pencil.
  4. Dip the bottom of the stem cutting into rooting hormone, if you have it, to help encourage root growth.
  5. Place the stem cutting into the hole in the soil and gently firm the soil around the cutting to support it.
  6. Water the cutting well and place the pot in a warm, well-lit location, but not in direct sunlight.
  7. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and mist the cutting regularly to keep the leaves hydrated.
  8. After a few weeks, you should see new growth on the cutting. Once the cutting has established roots and is growing well, you can gradually move it to a location with more light and continue to care for it as you would a mature prayer plant.

Note: You can also root prayer plant cuttings in water instead of soil, if you prefer. Simply place the stem cuttings in a jar or glass of water and place it in a warm, well-lit location. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh, and mist the leaves regularly to keep them hydrated. After a few weeks, you should see roots growing from the nodes on the stem. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can carefully transplant the cutting into a pot of moist, well-draining soil.

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Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to provide your prayer plant with the right conditions to encourage healthy growth. This includes keeping the soil moist, providing enough light (but not direct sunlight), and misting the leaves regularly to keep them hydrated. With proper care, your prayer plant will grow and thrive.

Different Types of Prayer Plants

Plant NameColor

Maranta leuconeura

Green

Ctenanthe burle-marxii

Green and purple

Calathea orbifolia

Green and white

Stromanthe sanguinea

Green and pink

Common Pests

Prayer plants are relatively easy to care for and are not prone to many pests. However, like all plants, they can sometimes be affected by common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips.

Aphids

Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause damage by sucking the nutrients from the plant, and they can also spread plant diseases.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, white, cottony insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause stunted growth and leaf yellowing, and they can also produce a sticky substance called honeydew that can attract other pests.

Spider mites

Spider mites are tiny, spider-like insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause yellow or brown spots on the leaves, and if left unchecked, they can cause the leaves to wither and fall off.

Thrips

Thrips are small, slender insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause damage by sucking the nutrients from the plant, and they can also spread plant diseases.

To control these pests, it is important to regularly inspect your prayer plant for signs of infestation. If you do notice pests, you can try using an insecticidal soap or a natural pest control method, such as introducing natural predators (such as ladybugs) or using neem oil. It is also important to keep the plant healthy by providing it with the right conditions and proper care, as this will make it less susceptible to pests.

FAQ

How do you care for prayer plants?

Prayer plants prefer warm temperatures and high humidity, so they should be kept in a location with indirect sunlight and regular watering. They also benefit from regular misting to keep their leaves hydrated.

Can prayer plants be propagated?

Yes, prayer plants can be propagated by division or by rooting stem cuttings in soil or water.

What pests do prayer plants attract?

Prayer plants are relatively easy to care for and are not prone to many pests. However, they can sometimes be affected by common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips.

Do prayer plants need fertilization?

It is not necessary to fertilize prayer plants, but if you want to encourage growth and healthy foliage, you can feed them with a balanced liquid fertilizer once or twice a month during the growing season. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can harm the plant.

Why are prayer plants called prayer plants?

Prayer plants are called prayer plants because their leaves fold upwards at night, giving them a praying appearance. The scientific name for the most common type of prayer plant is Maranta leuconeura, which comes from the Greek words "marantos" meaning "like a prayer" and "leukos" meaning "white" and "neuros" meaning "nerve" (referring to the white veins on the leaves).

How often do prayer plants need to be watered?

Prayer plants prefer to be kept moist, but not soggy. Water the plant thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out of the pot, and then let the soil dry out slightly before watering again. This will vary depending on the season and the plant's environment, so it is important to monitor the plant and adjust the watering accordingly.

Can prayer plants grow outdoors?

Prayer plants are native to the rainforests of Brazil, so they prefer warm, humid environments. In their native habitat, they can grow to be quite large, but as houseplants, they are typically smaller and more compact. In some climates, prayer plants can be grown outdoors in shaded, protected areas, but they should be brought indoors during cold weather to prevent damage.

How do you get prayer plants to flower?

Prayer plants are known for their vibrant foliage, but they can also produce small, inconspicuous flowers. To encourage flowering, provide the plant with enough light and keep the soil moist. You can also use a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season to help promote healthy growth and flowering.

Can prayer plants be toxic to pets?

Prayer plants are not known to be toxic to pets, but it is always best to keep plants out of reach of pets and children to avoid accidental ingestion. If you are concerned about the safety of a plant, you can consult a veterinarian or a reliable source for information on plant toxicity.

© 2022 Bhavana

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