Looking to transform a corner of your office or your drab bathroom into a tropical oasis? Then consider adding a prayer plant! These plants are known for patterned foliage that mixes colors like lime green, hot pink, and emerald. Plus, they’re right at home indoors as long as you know how to care for them properly.
If you need a little help keeping your prayer plants healthy, don’t worry. We’ve put together a prayer plant care guide, so you can learn everything you need to know to keep these plants happy.
About Prayer Plants
You can use the term prayer plant to refer to any number of species in the genus Maranta. Some people also refer to members of the Calathea genus as prayer plants, but not everyone does.
The plants have flat, oblong leaves that emerge from the soil in clusters. While some prayer plants have rather plain-looking leaves, many have exquisite colors and patterns. And not only are these leaves beautiful, but they also put on a show! The leaves lay flat when the sun is out and then fold upwards at night. Some people say the upward-facing leaves look like folded hands, hence the name prayer plant.
Most prayer plants are native to tropical forests in South America. Therefore, a big part of successfully caring for them involves mimicking their home environment.
Caring for Prayer Plants Indoors
The most common way to grow prayer plants is as houseplants. If you’d like to bring one of these beauties into your home or office, check out how to best care for them.
Choosing a Suitable Container
Prayer plants grow from rhizomes, which are a type of underground stem. Roots spurt out from these rhizomes and help the plants take up water and nutrients. One of your jobs as a plant parent is to choose a container that provides a nice home for these rhizomes and roots.
When it comes to selecting a material, you don’t have to be too careful. Pots made from plastic, glazed ceramic, terra cotta, and glass can all work well, but be aware that soil in terra cotta pots will dry out a bit quicker. No matter which type of material you select, make sure the container contains drainage holes on the bottom.
As far as size goes, prayer plants don’t need a lot of room to expand. They’re slow-growing, which means they won’t become rootbound too quickly. Choose a pot that is only an inch or two wider than the plant’s root ball.
Selecting a Proper Potting Mix
Choosing a suitable soil mix is an essential part of keeping your prayer plant happy! If you choose the wrong mix, you can deal with issues like constantly wet soil, root rot, and dry plants.
Select a potting mix that offers a good balance of drainage, aeration, and moisture retention. This will allow the soil to remain moist between waterings while also creating air space for gas exchange.
A potting mix that’s made from peat moss or coco coir, compost, and perlite can work well.
Temperature and Humidity
Since these plants are native to tropical regions, they like the air to be on the warmer side. We’re not saying you need to crank up the heat so you’re sweating, but you should keep the temperature between 65–85°F.
And humidity? Well, we can’t overstate that prayer plants love humidity. While the natural humidity in your home may be okay in some instances, both heat and central air conditioning lower the humidity to a level that prayer plants dislike. If your home is dry, consider adding a humidifier to the area your prayer plant is in. You can also mist the area around your plant or place your planter on a pebble tray filled with water, but these two options won’t result in a huge increase in humidity.
Prayer plants prefer bright yet indirect light. You can find this type of light in the interior of a bright room or by a south-facing window with a sheer curtain over it.
Direct light can damage a prayer plant’s leaves, so avoid placing it in an area where it receives direct rays. But make sure it receives some light, as too little can lead to dull coloration and stunted growth.
While some plants can handle periods of drought, prayer plants like their soil to remain moist at all times. That’s not to say you need to water the plants every day. Instead, aim to water them when the top few inches of soil is dry, about once or twice a week.
Both underwatering and overwatering can cause leaves to turn yellow and/or drop, so try your best to keep the moisture level just right.
Since prayer plants can be sensitive to hard water, the plants may benefit from rainwater or distilled water. However, you can always start with tap water and switch if you notice issues like yellowing leaves.
Praying plants are slow-growing, so they don’t need a ton of fertilizer. However, they can benefit from a regular dose of nutrients. Select a fertilizer with a low, balanced NPK ratio like 1-1-1 or 2-2-2 and apply once in the early spring and then every two months until fall.
Make sure you don’t overapply nutrients since this can cause more harm than good.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Like most types of houseplants, prayer plants aren’t immune from pests and diseases (bummer, we know). Fortunately, knowing the first signs of a problem and how to treat it can go a long way in keeping your plants healthy.
One of the most common diseases prayer plants deal with is root rot. This is the generic name for a group of fungal diseases that attack plant roots. Like most fungi, the pathogens that cause root rot thrive in moist conditions. That means overwatering and/or poorly-draining soil often leads to root rot!
While it may sound obvious, a telltale sign of this disease is rotting roots. However, you can’t see the roots unless you remove your plant from its pot. Therefore, you can keep an eye out for other signs like yellowing or drooping leaves. If you suspect your plant has root rot, decrease the amount you water, and repot it in fresh potting mix.
The most common pests to keep an eye out for are small, sap-sucking critters like aphids, thrips, and spider mites. All of these pests can rapidly multiply, so it’s important that you catch and treat them ASAP. If you spot only a handful of pests, you can wipe them off with a soapy paper towel or rag. And if the infestation is already out of control, you can try spraying the pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Popular Types of Prayer Plants
Once you decide to add a prayer plant to your collection of green things, you’ll have to decide which type you like best! There are many different species of prayer plants, but these are some of the ones most commonly kept as houseplants.
Red Veined Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura, Erythroneura)
This type of prayer plant has dark green leaves with some lime green down the middle. It also features brink pink veins that help break up the greenery.
Lemon Lime Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura, Erythroneura ‘Lemon Lime’)
This variety is similar to the red-veined prayer plant except that it has lime green rather than pink veins.
Maranta leuconeura, Kerchoveana
With light green leaves topped with two rows of darker green patches, this type is a stunner. You may also hear it referred to as “Rabbit’s Tracks.”
Care for Your Prayer Plant with Ease
Now that you know how to care for a prayer plant, it’s time to bring one home! Not only do we offer prayer plants in our store, but we also carry other plants for delivery. If you decide to opt for another type of green plant, make sure to learn how to care for it as well. You can start by learning about pothos plant care and then read about caring for lucky bamboo.Shop All