How To Grow Prayer Plants

Prayer plants are one of the most iconic tropical houseplants, known for the striking colours and patterns of their leaves. Botanically known as Maranta, these beauties get their common name from the movement of their leaves. They are lower during the day and rise at night, resembling praying hands.

This care guide will tell you everything you need to know about cultivating a beautiful, thriving prayer plant.

Key Facts

Common NamePrayer plant
Maranta
Plant typeTropical perennial
Mature SizeHeight and spread of 6-12 inches
Sun ExposurePartial shade/indirect sunlight
Soil TypeWell-drained, moist soil
Soil pHNeutral or slightly acidic

Growing Conditions

Sunlight: Prayer plants don’t enjoy direct sunlight; it can scorch the leaves and fade their stunning colours. Instead, these plants should be kept in indirect sunlight or partial shade.

Soil: An important factor for a healthy prayer plant is well-draining soil.

Watering: During the warmer months, make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Water thoroughly when the top two inches of soil has dried out. Make sure all the excess water has drained away so the plant isn’t sitting in a puddle. Reduce watering in the winter, but make sure the soil never dries out too much.

Location: Place your prayer plant in a spot where it will receive indirect sunlight and some humidity. A bathroom or kitchen is ideal.

Fertiliser: Feed your prayer plant once or twice a month in the spring and summer. Dilute the fertiliser according to the instructions on the product. Make sure to water the plant normally at least once between feedings to avoid any build up of minerals.

Repotting prayer plants

The process of moving a prayer plant to a new pot is similar to repotting any houseplant

  1. Remove the plant from its pot
  2. Evaluate the root system, ensuring the roots are healthy
  3. Choose a new pot that allows 2-3cm of room around the root system
  4. Loosen and untangle the roots if necessary
  5. Place the plant into the new pot and surround it with fresh, well-draining potting mix
  6. Lightly compact the soil and water the plant thoroughly

Propagation

Propagation by division

Many houseplants – including prayer plants – are usually sold with clusters of stems in one pot together. Therefore, you can divide your prayer plants by following this process:

1. Take your plant to a surface that you’re happy to get a bit dirty, or cover up a surface with newspaper or plastic bags.

2. Remove the plant from its pot.

3. Loosen the soil and spread out the roots. At this point, you can identify how many separate plants were in the same pot.

4. Carefully separate the individual plants from each other and pot them with new, well-draining potting mix. Make sure you use a smaller pot than the original plant was in; allow roughly 2cm of room around the root system.

5. Thoroughly water your new plants to help them establish in their new pots.

Propagation by cuttings

Using cuttings to propagate a prayer plant takes longer than division, but can be very productive.

1. Clean a pair of scissors or pruners.

2. Trim a healthy section of the plant, cutting below a node.

3. Put the node into a small glass of water. Make sure the node is submerged, but the leaves stay dry.

4. Change the water once a week.

5. Over time, the node will develop roots. Once a the roots reach about 3cm long, plant the cutting into some well-draining potting mix. You could plant multiple cuttings in one pot for a bushier appearance.

6. Thoroughly water your new plant to help it adapt to growing in soil.

Common Prayer Plant Issues

Pests

Prayer plants are susceptible to common houseplant pests like mealybugs and spider mites. Regularly check your plants for pests, focusing on the underside of the leaves and any little crevices where a bug could be hiding. If you see signs of infection, separate the affected plants from any others around it and treat it with a natural insecticide. You may have to remove more heavily infested bits of the plant; make sure to use sterile pruning tools to do this.

Faded colours

Fading leaves on a prayer plant usually indicate that it is getting too much sunlight. Try moving the plant further from the window, or to a location that receives less direct sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do prayer plants trail?

Yes. Prayer plants will spread out and create gorgeous displays of trailing colour.

Are prayer plants low maintenance?

These plants are generally easy to care for but do require more attention than some other houseplants. For example, their health may suffer if they are left in dry conditions without enough water or humidity.

Are prayer plants pet-safe?

Yes. Prayer plants are pet-safe as they are non-toxic to cats and dogs.

Updated on March 1, 2024

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles