The Habitat
Share to PinterestKeeping Your Prayer Plant Healthy
Share to PinterestKeeping Your Prayer Plant Healthy

Prayer plant or marantas is one of the most unique and interesting houseplants. Their leaves move throughout the day, folding up like praying hands at night. There are many varieties of prayer plants, but most of them have eye-catching leaves. Some feature spots and others have bright and colorful veins.

These plants aren't beginner-friendly, but they're not too difficult to care for, either. It takes a little more work to get them to thrive and last a long time.


Planting your prayer plant

Share to PinterestMaranta leuconeura Fascinator plant in ceramic planter
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You can plant prayer plants outdoors in zones 10b to 12, but many people keep them as houseplants because they do not tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees F.

This species isn't too picky about soil, as long as it is slightly acidic and well-draining. Make sure the pot you're using has drainage holes, and add some rocks to the bottom so water doesn't pool.


Space requirements for a prayer plant

Share to PinterestMaranta leuconeura var. erythroneura aka herringbone plant on a shelf
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Prayer plants can get pretty big, about a foot tall in proper conditions. In their natural habitat, they spread along the rainforest floor in dense clumps, forming ground cover. You can keep them in wide, low pots to encourage them to grow in this way. Prayer plants will also vine, so they also grow well in hanging baskets or trailing over the side of a pot.


Sunlight requirements

Share to PinterestMaranta plant
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Because they naturally grow as ground cover in the rain forest, prayer plants do not need a lot of light. They can do well in medium-light conditions, but they prefer bright indirect light. Place them in a corner or behind a curtain so they get some light from a nearby window but keep them out of the direct sun.

Too much light causes their leaves to fade, but the leaves will curl if they do not get enough.


Watering requirements

Share to PinterestMaranta plant and mister bottle
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Prayer plants actively grow in the spring and summer, so you need to water them regularly during these months. Make sure the soil doesn't dry out completely or get too soggy. When watering, avoid getting water on the leaves because it can lead to fungal growth.

Prayer plants are less active in the fall and winter, so they don't need as much water during these times.


Pests that can harm a prayer plant

Share to PinterestExtreme close-up of red spider mites
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Prayer plants are prone to infestations that commonly harm houseplants, including spider mites and mealybugs. Spider mites are most common, but they are very small and hard to see. You may notice fine white webbing and stalled growth and find the tiny mites on closer inspection. Use neem oil or systemic pesticides for spider mites.

Mealybugs are puffy and look almost cotton-like. They multiply fast and can quickly overtake your plant, though you can remove them effectively with streams of water or pulling them off manually.


Potential diseases

Share to Pinterestcloseup of the leaves of a prayer plant
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The most common diseases that affect prayer plants are fungal issues stemming from incorrect watering. Overwatering or allowing water to collect on the leaves can lead to leaf spot — yellow spots that spread over the plant. You can normally treat leaf spot by correcting your watering schedule and technique.


Special care

Share to Pinterest'Maranta Leuconeura Fascinator' plant
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Prayer plants don't have any special care requirements, but you should prune them regularly. These plants tend to get leggy, especially if they aren't getting enough light, so if you want a bushier plant, pruning is the way to get it.

Trim the stems back twice a year using sharp, sterile shears. To keep the plant looking full, propagate these cuttings back into the pot.


Propagating your prayer plant

Share to PinterestMaranta Fascinator Tricolor house plant
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Propagating prayer plants is easy, and it's the best way to ensure you get a full plant. Trim off any trailing or vining leaves an inch below a node. Place the stem in water, and keep the container in the same environment as the mother plant.

Change the water regularly, and in a few weeks, you should start to see some roots. Once the roots are an inch or so long, place them into the same pot as the mother plant.


Benefits of a prayer plant

Share to PinterestMaranta lemon lime
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Prayer plants have a truly unique look that adds interesting detail to your home. There are many colorful varieties, too. One of the best things about having a prayer plant in your home is how much they move! These plants look completely different during the day than at night with the leaves folded in, making it look like the plant is praying.


Varieties of prayer plants

Share to Pinterest'Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana' houseplant
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There are many prayer plant varieties to choose from, each with unique characteristics.

  • Maranta Kim has shorter, more compact growth
  • Kerchoveana has unique dark spots with less prominent veins
  • Silver feather has unique light and dark green variegation.
  • Lemon-lime maranta has multiple shades of bright green
  • Grey star has long pale silver leaves with pinkish-purple undersides.


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