Prayer plant care: soil, sun, water, humidity and types of prayer plants

Prayer plant care: soil, sun, water, humidity and types of prayer plants

Prayer plant care may be easy, but that’s not the biggest draw for gardeners. These plants (also known as maranta) are among the best small plants that add a touch of color and elegance to your home decor. Almost as beautiful as a stained glass window, these tropical plants offer bright green, oval-shaped leaves with colorful veins lined up in a distinctive pattern. While the plants produce small white or purple flowers from time to time, it is their leaves that are the real attraction.

During the day, the leaves of these sprawling indoor plants are flat, but at night, they rise and fold like praying hands. “The foliage is gorgeous. It’s amazing to watch them change at night,” says Lisa Eldred Steinkopf (aka Houseplant Guru), a blogger, lecturer, and author. Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants. She points out another selling point: “Maranta plants make great indoor hanging plants.”

Although praying plants are fairly easy to care for – they are low-maintenance indoor plants, they are a little sensitive about humidity and watering. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with expert advice on those and other aspects of praying plant care. So head to your local nursery or buy plants online, then read on to learn how to care for your tropical beauty.

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You can live the life of the zoya Maranta leuconeura
to rise 10 to 12 inches
Sun exposure Medium to bright indirect light
Soil type Moist and well-drained
Soil pH Acidic (5.5 to 6)
Poisoning Non-toxic to pets

Where to place a prayer plant

Prayer plants need medium to bright indirect light. “The ideal spot would be in front of the east window,” says Stenkov. Just keep these plants out of direct sunlight, which can cause the leaf colors to fade.

Temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees are best, and anything below 55 or above 90 degrees will harm the plant. Since prayer plants are native to rainforest floors, they need a fair amount of moisture. You can increase the humidity by using a humidifier in the room, grouping plants together, or placing your potted plant on a pebble tray. (To make a pebbled tray, simply add a layer of pebbles to a shallow tray, fill it with water about halfway above the pebbles and then place the plant in a pot on top of it.)

Although it is tempting to mist your plant to improve humidity, do not spray water on the leaves. “Never spray them, because the leaves are susceptible to fungal infections and wet leaves are a risk factor for these conditions,” says Christopher Sutch, a horticulturist and professor at the New York Botanical Garden. If you have enough light, prayer plants make great bathroom plants.

And don’t worry about hiding it from your pets. These plants are not toxic to cats or dogs.

Caring for a prayer plant

If you want to keep your prayer plant alive, you’ll need to focus on more than just indoor plant lighting, temperature, and humidity. Pay attention to the plant’s soil, water and fertilization needs.


Standard potting mix works well for prayer plants that prefer slightly acidic soil. To make sure the soil is well-drained and retains moisture, make sure the mix contains some small white balls of perlite which create air pockets and help the soil mix retain liquid.


Brazilian rainforest dwellers need a plant watering schedule that keeps the soil moist but not saturated. Underwatering is an easy path to a dead plant.

In the spring and summer, water your prayer plant well when the top of the soil is dry, usually once a week. If plant growth slows in winter, reduce watering to every two to four weeks.

Prayer plants are sensitive to the fluoride in tap water, so your plants may require a filtered drink. “Distilled water, bottled water, well water, and rainwater are better for plants than what comes out of a lot of people’s taps,” Steinkopf says. Although you may have heard that leaving the water for a day or so may get rid of chemicals, this only applies to chlorine, not fluoride.


Prayer plant care does not involve a lot of fertilizer. “Use a standard fertilizer at a quarter to half strength every fourth watering,” Steinkopf says. So, if you are using a liquid fertilizer for indoor plants that needs to be mixed with water, use half the amount of fertilizer for the recommended amount of water.

Keep in mind that fertilization is seasonal. “Don’t fertilize in winter unless the plant is sending up new growth,” she says.

Types of prayer plants

Prayer plants are eye-catching additions to home decor, but they don’t all look the same. For variety when decorating with these plants, add one (or more!) of each type below.

  • Rabbit’s foot prayer plant: Also known as the green prayer plant, this variety has light green leaves with dark spots that resemble rabbit trails.
  • Red prayer plant: This easily recognizable plant has deep green leaves with striking red veins.
  • neon prayer plant: You can recognize this species by its bright green leaves and yellow veins arranged in a herringbone-like pattern.

Common pests

Even with near-perfect prayer plant care, you may encounter some unwanted houseplant pests. “Spider mites, mealybugs, and sometimes thrips are the worst pests on maranta,” Satch says.

Spider mites are the most common, and although they are small, their webs are visible on the plant. “If the soil in the pot becomes dry, the plant will become a magnet for spider mites,” Steinkopf says. “If you have an infestation, the bottom of the leaves will be sandy.” The hardness comes from the skin being torn apart by mites. You can wipe spider mites off the leaves with a damp cloth.

Mealybugs form fuzzy balls, usually where a leaf and a branch meet, and look like white fluff. Remove mealybugs with a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol.

“Thrips are small, elongated flying wings that can wreak havoc on prayer plant leaves,” Steinkopf adds. Treat them with insecticidal soap.

How to Propagate Prayer Plants

If you love your prayer plant and want more — without spending a lot of money at your local nursery — you can create offspring from your plant through propagation. Propagating a prayer plant is simple, and there are several methods to choose from. Since plants are your new pets, you may need a whole host of plant babies!

Place the leaf pieces in the water

This is the absolute easiest way to get more prayer plants, because you can see the progress of the cutting process. To do this, use a sterile tool to cut the stem an inch or two below a leaf node. A leaf node is the bulge where the stem containing the leaves meets the main stem of the plant (the spot from which the roots grow).

Your piece may include more than one set of cards. Place the cutting in a bowl of room temperature water with the knot below the water, then place it in a location with bright, indirect light.

Maintain hydration level. Within a few weeks to a month, you should have roots long enough (about 2 to 3 inches) to plant them in a pot of soil.

Plant the leaf cutting in the soil

It is easy to propagate the plant using soil. Simply cut the stem a few inches below a leaf node, just as you would when propagating in water. Place the cutting in potting soil, making sure to cover the node. Do not place any leaves under the soil mixture, as they will rot.

Place the container in bright, indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist. After a few weeks, gently pull the plant. If it feels resistance, it has developed roots and will continue to grow.

to divide

“Maranta plants are rhizomatous, and their stems are underground and grow parallel to the surface,” Steinkopf says. “To propagate, all you have to do is divide a clump of a few leaves with their roots underground, and now you have more prayer plants.”

It’s easier than it sounds, we promise. First, you will need to remove the plant from the pot. Remove the soil from around the roots (be gentle!) so you can see how the roots are coming together. Use your fingers to divide a group of roots, separating the parts from each other, then repot each plant.

Questions and answers about prayer plants

Why do the leaves of my prayer plant curl?

Curling leaves and brown tips on leaves can have a variety of causes. Most likely, the humidity level is too low for the plant. The leaves may also react to the presence of fluoride in the water, or you may be underwatering the plant.

How can I make a prayer plant thicker?

If you want a fuller plant, cut some of the stems above a leaf node, which will stimulate new shoots below where you made the cuttings. You can do this two or three times a year just before (early spring) and after (fall) the plant leaves its winter dormancy.

Once you’ve mastered prayer plant care, think about how you can add it to the greenery in your home. Try some air purifying plants to detoxify your home, or use medicinal herbs that you can use.


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