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With such an intriguing name, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Maranta Leuconera prayer plant is one of the most commonly kept indoor species. Yes, this lovely plant does EXACTLY what its name says- its leaves are flat during the day, but when the night comes, they fold up and pray.
How to grow prayer plant? If you know how to take care of a prayer plant, it won’t be an overly demanding species to keep in your home. Just remember that it thrives on high humidity and it prefers brighter, indirect sun. Also, it would be wise to keep it in well-drained soil and be careful not to overwater it. Keep it in temperatures between 60-85 degrees F. Pay attention to spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs, and that’s pretty much it!
If you want to learn what is prayer plant and how to take care of it, this is the place for you so keep reading to find out.
Different Types of Prayer Plant
First of all, let’s see what does a prayer plant look like. What all variants have in common is the oval-shaped leaves, but that’s the only thing. They have different spots and distinctive patterns.
At the time being, there is approximately 40-50 different varieties of this plant, but Maranta leuconeura is the most frequently kept one. I shall list a couple of variants:
M. leuconera “Kerchoveana” (Green Praying Plant)
Let’s start with the one which is most frequently found in homes. This one has green foliage and purple markings between the veins. Unlike some other variants, this one doesn’t have so prominently distinctive veins. If you hear somebody referring to it as “rabbit track plant”, that’s because of those interesting spots which look a lot like animals’ tracks.
M. leuconera “Erythroneura” (Red Prayer Plant)
This variant, maranta red, has dark green foliage with light green or white in the central part (spine). And those “veins” spreading from the middle to the outer part are red.
M. leuconeura “Massangeana” (Black Prayer Plant)
Silverish-blue foliage with purple markings and dark olive-green sides are what characterizes this variant.
But, aside from Maranta, a couple of other species are also known as prayer plants.
- Calatheas (Medallion, Concinna “Freddie”, Roseopicta “Dottie” and “Rosy”, Lancifolia “Rattlesnake”, Ornata “Beauty star”, makoyana, musaica, ornate, orbifolia, zebrina, vittata, fasciata, “White Star”, and warscewiczii)
- Ctenanthe- Burle Marxii
- Stromanthe sanguinea “Triostar”
Now let’s get down to some essentials on care for prayer plant- soil, temperature, lighting, humidity, repotting, and more!
Soil Requirements for Prayer Plants
The great thing about the maranta plant is that you can grow it in a general-purpose mix, which is commonly used for the majority of house plants.
The most important is that you use a well-draining one. You can buy a package of it, of course, but making it is not complicated at all.
What you need is garden soil, perlite or coarse sand, and peat moss/ coconut coir. You use the same amount of each of these ingredients. Plus, a pinch of garden lime will maintain the necessary pH level., in case the soil has higher acidity.
Some rocks or gravel at the bottom of the container will improve drainage.
What about Prayer Plant Light and Temperature Requirements?
Never expose it to direct sunlight, as the leaves could scorch. Too much direct sunlight can kill your prayer plant.
However, it needs brighter light, so be smart when brainstorming where to locate your plant. It needs to be a well-lit place with enough indirect sunlight.
Make sure the air flows, but don’t place it on drafty windows.
As for the temperature, average room temp. is the best for this species. Between sixty and eighty F. (16-27 expressed in Celsius) is ideal.
How Often Do I Need to Water Prayer Plant?
What this plant needs is regular watering, but not too much of the precious liquid. They don’t like a dry environment. But they don’t like soggy soil either.
During hotter months, you need to water it more frequently. When the colder days arrive, feel free to reduce frequency.
The best way to evaluate whether the watering time has come is to inspect the soil. Insert a finger about an inch deep, and if it feels dry- water it!
Does it Need a High Level of Humidity?
Knowing that this species is native to tropical regions, you should ensure a high level of humidity.
As long as you do that, you will avoid all the common problems related to maranta plant care. As you probably know, regular misting is the best way to maintain the desired level of humidity.
The heating season is the trickiest one, and if misting is not sufficient, some good humidifiers can help you create optimal conditions for your plant.
Is It Necessary to Fertilize Prayer Plant?
Yes, you should fertilize this plant, if you want it to develop properly. Water-soluble food works best.
As for the frequency, during summer, you should add fertilizer every 2 weeks. During winter, when the plant is not actively growing, you reduce feeding. Once a month, or once every two months is more than enough.
Repotting Prayer Plant
This is not one of those plants that tend to overgrow its container rapidly, consequently, you don’t have to transplant it too often.
But, while it won’t grow overly large in size, you need to pay attention to its roots. If the plant becomes root-bound, its development will slow down.
When you do “relocate” it to the new container, it doesn’t have to be notably bigger. An inch or two is quite enough for the roots to accommodate well.
Once you transplant it, water it well, and your plant will quickly resume its progress.
How to Propagate Prayer Plant?
Cut the stem below a leaf node, and there you have it- a material for a new plant!
If you want to increase the chances for it to develop properly, dip it in the rooting powder and place it in a glass of water. Speaking of, making rooting powder is not complicated at all.
If you decide to place the cut part in the soil directly, that’s fine as well. The only thing you need to check is the moisture level. This plant needs a high level of humidity to thrive, so provide it.
Pruning Maranta Prayer Plant
Pruning is beneficial for praying hand plant if you want to encourage its faster growth and development. By doing so you will make it look bushier and richer. New shoots will appear above the leaf node.
Don’t forget- the tools must be clean and disinfected. Do so before and after pruning, every time.
Prayer Plant Common Problems and How to Fix Them
Unlike some other species which are common “residents” of our homes, the praying plant doesn’t have many enemies. In fact, maranta can have issues with those “tiny villains” the vast majority of indoor plants are dealing with.
Spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are the “bad guys” I’m aiming at. Like I said above, if you take proper care of your pray plant, you’ll avoid these. At least spider mites.
They hate something that prayer plant particularly likes- humidity!
In case you spot some brown spots- that’s chlorine. Avoid tap water and you will fix it. Make a smart watering schedule, and you will avoid the helminthosporium leaf spot, which appears as a consequence of an excessive amount of water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to buy prayer plants?
You can look for maranta red prayer plant or any other variant in your local flower shops. If you cannot find any, try luck with the internet. There are many online stores specialized in distributing indoor plants, just check whether they shift to your location.
How to revive a prayer plant?
The plant could start dying if the conditions are inadequate, especially humidity. Talking about how to revive a prayer plant the fastest you can, mist it on regular basis. Put a pebble tray with water under the pot, and you will ensure a constant optimal level of moisture.
Are prayer plants poisonous to cats?
If you have pets and a prayer plant, have no worries- they can coexist. These plants are not toxic to cats and dogs.