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The maranta or “prayer plant” is one of the most unique yet easy-to-care-for plants you can find. In this post, learn all about prayer plant care and prayer plant propagation.
Where Can I Find a Prayer Plant?
You can easily find a prayer plant on Etsy. Check out this gorgeous prayer plant from one of my favorite Etsy shops. (I mean seriously, aren’t they just stunning plants?)
How Do You Take Care of a Prayer Plant?
The key to prayer plant care is proper moisture. They need to remain evenly moist and prefer higher humidity. Overall, it is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Read on for a full care guide.
How much light do prayer plants need?
Prayer plants prefer bright, indirect light, but part of what makes prayer plant care so easy is they are pretty flexible when it comes to light levels. If you keep it in lower light, you’ll simply have to adjust your watering schedule accordingly
Just don’t let your plant sit in direct sun or it could harm the leaves.
Determining the light levels in your home can be difficult sometimes. If you’re struggling with this, check out my guide to natural light for indoor plants.
If your lack enough light to keep your prayer plant happy, grow lights are an excellent solution. In fact, I use grow lights for nearly all of my plants. Below are two of my current favorite grow lights—my plants love them!
What kind of soil does a prayer plant need?
A regular well-draining indoor plant potting mix will work fine for the prayer plant. I also like to add a handful or two of perlite to my mix for better drainage.
How often should I water a prayer plant?
These plants like to remain moist, but not wet. Water them when the top inch or so of the soil is dry, but don’t wait longer than that or they could dry out too much.
I water mine around every two weeks. This is only because it doesn’t get much light, so it takes a lot longer to dry out.
If the leaves start to curl then your plant is telling you that it really needs to be watered.
Do prayer plants like humidity?
The prayer plant is native to the rainforests of Brazil, therefore, they love humid environments! There are a few ways you can provide humidity to your plants, but I prefer using a humidifier because it’s simple and lasts a while.
I really like the humidifier below because it can last up to 96 hours!
Here is my post on even more easy methods to create humidity for houseplants.
Prayer plants prefer warmer temperatures, but they will do fine in normal household temperatures. Just don’t let it get below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18 degrees Celcius).
Remove it from any drafty areas or cold windowsills in the winter.
Prayer plants do not need to be repotted too often. Generally, about every two years or when it becomes rootbound.
You can confirm if a plant is rootbound by checking if there are roots coming out of the drainage holes, or by slipping the plant out of its pot and checking if the roots are coiled around the outside of the soil.
Choose a pot that is one size larger than your current pot and has drainage. The best time to repot is in the growing season (spring and summer), if possible.
Use a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer and dilute it to half its strength. You don’t want to use too much or it can end up hurting the plant. Always make sure to read the fertilizer instructions on the label.
Prayer plants typically should be fed every other week in the growing season (spring and summer).
Foliage and Flowers
Its leaves are oval, about five inches long, and known for their bold markings consisting of different shades of green with thin, pink stripes. New leaves start off growing in a tube-like form and then unfurl and grow outwards.
If you let the plant grow long enough it’ll grow out from its bushy center and start to trail, like an awkwardly shaped vine.
Prayer plants can also bloom little white and purple flowers. These blooms are more common in the wild than on houseplants, but I’ve seen mine bloom a few times.
Prayer plants are known for their “nyctinastic movement.” This is the up-and-down movement of the leaves on a daily basis in response to the light.
At night the leaves will point up towards the sky and during the day the leaves will go back down and spread out. When the leaves spread it helps them take in more moisture and when they go back up it helps the moisture drip down towards the plant.
The folding up of the leaves somewhat resembles hands in prayer, hence, prayer plant!
You can prune your plant to control its size and shape. Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut just ABOVE a node to achieve bushier and fuller growth. (Above a node means the node is NOT included on the part you cut off.)
Also, remove any dead or dying leaves once they can be plucked away.
How do you propagate a prayer plant?
Prayer plant propagation is very simple. Just snip off a cutting below a node, and place the cutting in water or moist soil as the roots develop. I’ll go over a more in-depth guide below.
Where do you cut a prayer plant to propagate?
You’ll need to cut your plant below a node to propagate it. A prayer plant node is where the petiole (the little stem attached to a leaf) attaches to a main stem.
Prayer plants can grow a network of stems branching off each other, so the nodes can also be where a smaller stem attaches to a larger stem. There is usually a little bulge there, too.
Growth comes from the nodes, and the nodes are where new roots will grow from. This is why you need to cut below the node when you’re propagating plants. Cutting “below” the node means the node is included on the part you cut off.
Can you propagate prayer plant in water?
Yes, you can very easily propagate a prayer plant in water.
To propagate the prayer plant in water, simply take a clean pair of scissors and cut off a piece below a node. It’s important for the node to be included on the cutting because that’s where new roots will sprout from.
Place that cutting into a jar of room-temperature water so that the node is below the surface. Make sure there aren’t any leaves that are submerged.
Put it in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Replace the water when needed and top it off when you see the level getting lower.
After a few weeks to a month, your root system should be enough (about two to three inches long) that you can transfer the cutting into soil. Then, give your new plant a good watering and care for it how you normally would.
Propagating a Prayer Plant in Soil
You can also follow the same process, but place the cutting directly into a container of moistened soil instead of water. Make sure the node is buried but don’t bury any leaves.
Place it in a location that receives bright, indirect light, and keep the soil moist as the roots develop. You can also place a clear plastic bag over the top to help lock in humidity. Just remove it every other day to let in fresh air.
After a few weeks, test the cutting by giving it a very gentle tug. If you feel resistance, the roots have developed and you can treat your cutting like a normal plant.
How long does it take to propagate a prayer plant?
From my experience, I can say on average that it takes around three weeks to a month for prayer plant cuttings to grow roots long enough to pot up (two to three inches). But this can vary based on time of year and environment.
If your prayer plant isn’t ready after a month, just have a little more patience.
Propagating a Prayer Plant by Division
You can also propagate a prayer plant by division. This simply means dividing one or more sections of the plant from the mother plant and potting them up in separate pots.
To do this, remove the entire plant from the pot and identify any separate section that has its own root system. Gently separate it from the mother plant, untangling any roots.
Try not to break the roots, but if you can’t untangle them you can use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to snip them away from each other. Just try to keep most of the root system intact.
Pot each baby section into an appropriately sized pot and water them well. Give each newly potted section some time to adjust, and that’s it!
Problems and Pests
- Brown, crispy leaf tips – This usually indicates your prayer isn’t receiving enough humidity. However, it could also mean you’re keeping the soil too dry, or you’re watering inconsistently. Remember to always keep your prayer plant consistently moist.
- Pale or yellowing leaves – This could mean your plant is receiving too much light, or you’re watering incorrectly (too much or too little water). Evaluate your plant’s surroundings to determine what could be the cause.
- Root rot – For plants that like to remain somewhat moist, it’s easy to go overboard and accidentally overwater your plant. Overwatering too much could lead to root rot. See my post on root rot for more help.
- Leaves curling – When your prayer plant’s leaves are curling, that means it’s too dry. The leaves should go back to normal after you give your plant a good watering.
- Pests – Potential pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.
- Check out my posts on getting rid of mealybugs and getting rid of fungus gnats for help with those pests.
- Spider mites like dry conditions, so providing your prayer plant with ample humidity will help it. If you notice spider mites, spray your plant down with a hose or the shower to blast off any bugs. Then, treat the plant with an insecticidal soap. Be sure to read the label first and use caution if you have pets or kids.
Are prayer plants toxic to cats and dogs?
Prayer plants are non-toxic to cats and dogs. However, one of my cats got into my prayer plant once and became sick for a few days. Even if a plant is non-toxic, it could still cause an upset tummy and vomiting.
It’s always best practice to keep all of your plants away from your pets regardless of toxicity level.
Are Marantas and Calatheas the same?
Maranta plants and calatheas are frequently confused. While they both belong to the Marantaceae family, they are not the same. They are under two different genera. Calatheas are not prayer plants, and only maranta plants are nicknamed prayer plants.
- Provide it with bright, indirect light. It can tolerate some lower light
- Keep the potting mix moist, but not wet
- Use a well-draining potting mix
- Provide it with humidity and warmth
- Repot when rootbound
- Use a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength twice a month during the growing season