Prayer Plant Guide: How to Take Care of a Maranta Plant

Prayer Plant Guide: How to Take Care of a Maranta Plant

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This is the plant you have been praying for. Prayer plants are gorgeous house plants with large patterned leaves and a nighttime ritual of raising and lowering their foliage. The movement looks like bringing your hands together in prayer, hence the plant’s name.

This complete guide covers everything you need to know about prayer plants including how to grow, water, and care for them.

Prayer Plant Details

Maranta spp.

AKA Prayer plant, named cultivars (Neon, Herringbone, etc.)
Light: Bright, indirect light
Water: Weekly
Temperature: 70-85 degrees F
Height: 2-3 feet
Pest: Aphids, scale insects
Disease: Root rot and fungal issues if overwatered
Toxicity: Nontoxic for cats, dogs, and humans

What Are Prayer Plants?

Prayer plants were originally found in the tropical rainforests of Brazil, the West Indies, and Central America. They are notable for their large, smooth, oval-shaped leaves that are colored by intricate patterns.

Their leaves lift up and fold together at night, and then revert back to their normal horizontal position during the day. In the rainforest, this movement allows prayer plants to collect rainfall in their folded leaves and direct it towards their roots.

Below is a time-lapse of a prayer plant completing its famed nighttime ritual.

Prayer Plant Benefits

Prayer plants are great air purifiers, removing toxic chemicals, improving your breathing, sleep, and mental clarity. They look beautiful and are easy to manage houseplants, providing you with a calming activity that reduces stress. Lastly, they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Growing a Prayer Plant Outside

If you love in USDA Grow Zones 10 through 12 you can grow your prayer plant outside. Make sure that you space them out, planting them in rows with 2-3 feet between the plants. This will enable their roots and foliage to spread. As long as temperatures stay above 59 F, your prayer plant should be fine outside, as long as you use the tips mentioned below. If it dips below that, try to cover your plants to conserve heat and energy.

Prayer Plant Growth Rate

Prayer plants that are grown outdoors can grow to be 12 inches tall while those grown indoors can grow to be up to 8 inches tall. Your growth rate will be stable if you care for your prayer plant and maintain ideal conditions for it.

prayer plant maranta rosea picta closeup of foliage

Prayer Plant Care

Light

Pick out a spot for your prayer plant indoors that has low light or bright, indirect sunlight. A north-facing window is an especially good location for this plant. Prayer plants look particularly good, and grow rather well, in hanging baskets and planters. Fill your container with well-draining soil. Consider also mixing in compost, vermiculite, and sand.

Pro Tip: Keep your prayer plant in one spot for 24 hours and see how it reacts to the light. If it looks wilted or the leaves begin to curl, move it elsewhere or farther away from the window.

Water

Your prayer plant loves moisture, but too much can lead to issues like root rot. Your prayer plant should be in a container with effective drainage holes. Water your prayer plant whenever its soil dries out with warm water. Prayer plants tend to be sensitive to the fluoride in tap water so consider collecting rainwater to feed it with. Water close to the plant’s roots.

Humidity & Temperature

Pick out a spot for your prayer plant  regular temperatures between 60-85 F. Provide your prayer plant with humidity by leaving a bowl of water next to it. As the water evaporates it will create humidity around the plant. You can also create a humidity tray or mist your plant regularly with warm water.

Since prayer plants are used to a humid, tropical climate, make sure that you take care of them in the winter. Keep the soil drier in the winter to induce winter dormancy. Place your prayer plant near other house plants to boost humidity and combat the dry, cold air. At this time you should also mist your prayer plant with warm water frequently.

Year-round, make sure that your prayer plant is away from any doors, drafts, or vents so that it is not exposed to rapid changes in temperature.

Pro Tip: Consider leaving your prayer plant in your bathroom in a planter. It will love the post-shower humidity.

prayer plant care includes dusting the leaves and providing adequate light

Fertilizer

Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer to feed your prayer plant once every two weeks from spring through fall.

Pruning & Repotting

Twice a year, trim back the stems of your prayer plant with sterile scissors to maintain a bushy and compact shape.

Repot your prayer plant once a year into a container that is 2 inches wider than the old container. Be gentle with the root ball and water thoroughly after repotting.

Propagation

To propagate your prayer plant you can either root basal cuttings or divide a larger plant into smaller ones.

Cuttings: Take cuttings by using sterile scissors to snip off pieces with at least 4 inches of growth and 3 leaf nodes. Use potting soil or a well-draining compost to pot your cuttings. Water them every couple of days. To speed up their rooting, provide some heat from below the plant.

Division: It’s best to divide your prayer plant in the springtime. Using your hand or a small knife divide the prayer plant by separating its roots. Be very cautious and gentle when doing so because the prayer plant root system can be delicate. Be quick in dividing the plant so that the roots do not dry out. Place the new divided prayer plant sections in separate pots in normal potting soil.

Prayer Plant Varieties

There are numerous prayer plant varieties to choose from, each with different leaf patterns, colors, and growth rates. Below are a few of the most popular types.

Maranta Leuconeura

The maranta leuconeura is also called the neon prayer plant. It is low-growing with light and dark green patterned leaves. As the plant matures, its pattern becomes more intricate and pronounced and the leaves grow outwards and overlap each other. The underside of the leaves is a reddish color and in the summertime, it can sprout small white flowers.

    Neon Prayer Plant in Custom Ecopot

Buy Neon Prayer Plant at Bloomscape
    The Neon Prayer Plant is an easy plant—place it in an indirect sunny spot, keep its soil damp, and mist its leaves once a week and it will flourish.

Herringbone Plant

The herringbone plant is also called the maranta leuconeura erythroneura or red prayer plant. It has strong red veins that pop out of dark green leaves, with a light yellowish-green midrib. The leaves’ underside is a bright, deep red that is showcased when they rise and fold at night.

    Red Prayer Plant in Custom Ecopot

Buy Red Prayer Plant at Bloomscape
    The Maranta Red Prayer Plant has soft dark green leaves with feathered, painterly-like centers of light green and red veins. The colorful foliage and slow growth make this a perfect plant for window sills, mantles, or shelves that need a splash of color.

Rabbit’s Foot Plant

The rabbit’s foot plant is also called the maranta leuconeura kerchoveana. It has green leaves, dark green veins, and dark brown blotches. During the summer, small white flowers sprout on it from long stems.

    Green Maranta leuconeura ‘Kerchoveana’

Buy at Amazon
    Prayer plants prefer bright, indirect light. During the growing season, water frequently and never allow the potting soil to dry out. Water when top of potting soil starts to dry. These plants are very susceptible to drought. This plant ships in a 4-inch growpot.

Where to Buy Prayer Plants

pinstripe maranta prayer plant inside a paper shopping bagYou can buy prayer plants from your local garden center or online.

An excellent online prayer plant option is the Hirt’s Green Prayer Plant. Hirt’s sells top-rated prayer plants with beautiful, patterned light and dark green leaves that come in their own 4” pots.

If you are looking for a prayer plant with red accents on its leaves, try JM Bamboo’s Rose Painted Prayer Plant. It is the calathea rosea picta variety, which has a light green, dark green, and red pattern on its leaves, and is shipped in a 6” pot.

Bloomscape also has prayer plants, linked above in the Varieties section.

Common Prayer Plant Problems

Prayer plants are very easy to take care of but there are a few specific care instructions that you should follow to ensure that your plant thrives. Below are some problems you may encounter when taking care of your prayer plant.

Lack of Humidity

Prayer plants originally grew in the rainforest so they need lots of humidity to thrive. When the humidity is too low, the plant’s leaves will turn brown. You can add humidity to your prayer plant by putting a humidifier in the room it occupies or leaving a dish full of water next to it.

Too Much or Too Little Water

To flourish, prayer plants need just the right amount of water.

If you underwater your plant it will contract yellow pigments or marks on its leaves. If you overwater your plant it could cause root rot. To combat this, never water to the point there is standing water on the soil, do not let excess water get on the plant’s leaves, and make sure you use a container with adequate drainage holes.

Pests

If you let your prayer plant sit outside, or grow your prayer plants in your garden, it could be susceptible to pests like spider mites, mealy bugs, and aphids. If you see anything unusual on your plant’s leaves, like spider webs, white, powdery, fluffy substances, or weird spotting, use a natural pesticide to rid your plant of the pests. Plant your prayer plants with a sufficient amount of space around them to enable adequate airflow to prevent pests and diseases from taking root.

variegated maranta prayer plant rare cultivar

Conclusion

Prayer plants are gorgeous houseplants with intricately colored leaves, loads of health benefits, and easy care. On top of all of that, watching their leaves rise and fall every day is really fun!

I hope you found this guide helpful. If you did, be sure to share it, and comment below with any growing questions!

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