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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
There are many prayer plant varieties to choose from, each with unique characteristics.