Complete Prayer Plant Care Guide

Beautiful multicolored flower with raindrops.
© MargaretW/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Heather Hall

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Welcome to our complete prayer plant care guide. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this article will provide essential tips and tricks for nurturing your prayer plant to its fullest potential.

About Prayer Plants

Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura aka herringbone plant on a shelf in a modern apartment.

The ideal lighting for a prayer plant is bright but indirect light. No direct sun here.

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The Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura) is a popular houseplant native to Brazil. It is known for its vibrant green and pink leaves, which open and close in the evenings, resembling a set of praying hands. Prayer plants grow 24 inches tall and wide and produce tiny purple flowers. When it comes to prayer plant care, it is a great starter plant for beginners because it is low maintenance and easy to propagate.

Light

houseplants

Most types of indoor houseplants, including maranta, like bright indirect light. This is one of the most important factors in prayer plant care.

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The ideal light for a prayer plant is medium to bright indirect light. In the Northern Hemisphere, you will find bright, indirect light 12-36 inches in front of a north-facing or east-facing window. You can also place prayer plants in front of west or south-facing windows, as long as there is a sheer curtain filtering the sun or a porch roof or awning blocking some of the light.

Prayer plants can tolerate low light, but they may not produce as many colorful leaves in those conditions. It is also important to avoid direct sunlight, which could scorch the plant’s delicate leaves. If you notice the tips of the leaves are crispy or brown, the light is too bright.

The prayer plant will benefit from being moved outside during warm months as long as it is in a shaded area that gets plenty of air circulation. If you move your plant outside, be sure to bring it back indoors when temperatures drop below 50°F.

Water

Tropical 'Maranta Leuconeura Fascinator' houseplant

Tropical Maranta Leuconeura “Fascinator” likes to be moist but not soggy, or the roots will rot.

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Water your indoor Prayer Plant regularly to keep it healthy. For ideal prayer plant care, aim to let the top two inches of soil dry out before watering. Since planter pots dry out from the top down, when the top is dry, there is still moisture at the bottom of the container. This excess moisture is the main reason for root rot, so err on the side of caution.

Before watering, touch the soil or use a water meter to make sure it is dry. If it is, it’s time to water. When watering, give the plant enough to thoroughly moisten the soil. If you have your plant in low light, it will need to be watered less often. In the winter, the plant will go dormant, and you can reduce watering again.

Humidity

Modern cool-mist humidifier for indoor plants. Steam vaporizer working inside house, moisturizing dry air at home, standing near green houseplants. Humidity in apartment and plantcare concept

A cool-mist humidifier is a great way to keep your prayer plant happy.

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Prayer Plants require high levels of humidity to thrive. To keep your Prayer Plant healthy, aim for a humidity level of at least 60%, ideally closer to 80%. If the humidity of your home is lower than this, you can increase it by misting frequently, running a humidifier, or using a pebble tray.

Just make sure you don’t overwater your plant, as this can lead to root rot or other issues. Additionally, keep your Prayer Plant away from air vents, as this can dry out the air surrounding the plant. With the right humidity level, your Prayer Plant will remain healthy and happy.

Temperature

measurement of humidity and temperature of houseplants. Thermometer-hygrometer on the background of a plant, sunlight, maintaining the temperature and humidity of the air necessary for indoor plants

A cheap plant gauge can tell you the temperature and humidity near your plant.

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For optimal health, a Prayer Plant needs temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the day and no lower than 60°F (15°C) at night. These conditions mimic its natural environment in tropical rainforests and will ensure the plant’s long-term health. If you re worried about providing prayer plant care, use a cheap indoor gauge that shows both humidity and temperature. They can save you a lot of worry.

Soil

Exotic 'Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana' houseplant in basket pot on table in front of gray wall

When it comes to prayer plant care, Maranta Leuconeura ‘Kerchoveana’ thrives in well-draining potting soil.

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Prayer plants thrive in soil with proper drainage, and a standard potting soil mix is ideal. If you want to further improve the mix, combine one-quarter perlite with three-quarters potting soil. This will help ensure the soil retains the right amount of water.

Fertilizer

Selective focus of a delicate prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) flower

If Maranta leuconeura is happy and well-fed, it will bloom indoors!

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Fertilizing a Prayer Plant is essential for keeping it healthy. The best time to fertilize is during the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing. To do this, use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended rate. Apply the fertilizer to the soil every two weeks, and water thoroughly after application. During the fall and winter months, stop feeding the plant altogether. Make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer label for the best results.

Pot

Girl replant a potted houseplant Maranta into a new soil with drainage. A rare variety Marantaceae leuconeura Massangeana Potted plant care, hand sprinkle the mixture with a scoop and tamp it in a pot. Hobby and enviro

Place your prayer plant in a container that will contrast with the gorgeous leaves.

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Prayer Plants are unique and beautiful, so selecting the right planter pot for them is fun. An ideal planter pot should be wide enough to provide ample room for the plant’s roots to grow and develop while also being deep enough to hold enough soil and water.

It should also have good drainage, as Prayer Plants don’t like to sit in soggy soil. A ceramic pot is a good option, as it is both attractive and durable. Plastic pots are also an option, as they are lighter and more affordable. Whichever type of pot you choose, make sure to pick one with a bright and bold design to complement the Prayer Plant’s lush foliage.

Propagation

Home decor plant in water propagation. Water propagation for indoor plants.

Did you know you can propagate prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) in a glass of water?

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Propagating a Prayer Plant through stem cuttings is a simple process that can be done with minimal effort. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Cut a stem from a mature Prayer Plant. Make sure the stem is healthy and free of disease.
  2. Cut the stem into sections, making sure each section has two or three leaves and at least one node.
  3. Place the cuttings in a jar or vase that is filled with tap water.
  4. Place the jar in a warm, bright location.
  5. Change the water every week to keep it fresh.
  6. The cuttings should start to develop roots in a few weeks.
  7. When the roots are about 2 inches long, carefully transplant the cuttings into a pot with soil.
  8. Water the cuttings regularly, taking care not to over-water them.

With these steps, you can easily propagate a Prayer Plant. One of the most enjoyable parts of prayer plant care is sharing cuttings with friends and family. Plus, who doesn’t love free plants?

Pests

Girl replant a potted houseplant Maranta into a new soil with drainage. A rare variety Marantaceae leuconeura Massangeana Potted plant care, hand sprinkle the mixture with a scoop and tamp it in a pot. Hobby and enviro

Be sure to use sterilized tools, pots, and soil so you don’t spread root rot fungi to your prayer plant.

©Ольга Симонова/iStock via Getty Images

Prayer Plants are susceptible to several common pests, including mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and thrips. To protect your Prayer Plant from these pests, routinely inspect the leaves for signs of infestation and treat them with insecticidal soap or pesticide immediately.

  • Mealybugs are small, white insects that congregate in clusters on the underside of the leaves and feed on the plant’s sap.
  • Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged arachnids that spin webs and suck the sap from the plant’s leaves.
  • Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the plant’s sap and produce a sticky substance called honeydew.
  • Whiteflies are small, white insects that feed on the leaves and excrete honeydew.
  • Thrips are slender, dark-colored insects that feed on the sap of the leaves and cause silver-colored scars.

Diseases

Zamiaculcas, a dollar tree in a white pot on the floor.

The roots of this plant are rotten from overwatering. Too much water lets fungi thrive and overgrow.

©Olga Yakovleva/iStock via Getty Images

One of the most common diseases that affects Prayer Plant is root rot, which is caused by overwatering and poor drainage. If left untreated, root rot can cause the plant’s roots to rot away and eventually kill the plant.

Fungal leaf spots are also a common problem for Prayer plants. Leaf spots are caused by fungi and can be identified by their rounded, dark spots on the leaves. To prevent these spots, keep the leaves dry and increase air circulation by spacing the plants further apart.

Toxicity

Cute Black bombay cat portrait with big yellow eyes sit on windowsill with green houseplant at home

If you have cats that are interested in your houseplants, maranta is a good, non-toxic choice.

©Viktor Sergeevich/Shutterstock.com

Prayer Plant (Maranta) is a great houseplant option if you have pets or small children. This plant is non-toxic to both humans and pets, which makes it a safe choice. Cats especially seem to enjoy nibbling on houseplants, so if you have a cat, Maranta is a great option since it won’t cause any harm.

Types of Prayer Plants

Beautiful multicolored flower with raindrops.

There are many gorgeous cultivars of Maranta leuconeura available now.

©MargaretW/iStock via Getty Images

  • Maranta leuconeura ‘Kerchoveana’: This cultivar has oval, dark green leaves that are marked with silvery-green, feathery markings.
  • Maranta leuconeura ‘Erythroneura’: This cultivar has oval, dark green leaves that are marked with bright red veins and silvery-green, feathery markings.
  • Maranta leuconeura ‘Tricolor’: This cultivar has oval, light green leaves that are marked with pink, yellow, and red veins and silvery-green, feathery markings.
  • Maranta leuconeura ‘Red’: This cultivar has oval, dark green leaves that are marked with bright red veins and silvery-green, feathery markings.


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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