Complete Prayer Plant Care and Growing Guide

Published February 10, 2021
Prayer plant on table

The prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is a popular houseplant. It is called a prayer plant because the prayer plant's flat leaves fold upward at night and resemble praying hands.

Prayer Plant Description

The prayer plant leaves are typically oval and wide. There are several popular varieties that have distinct appearances, often very opposite from each other.

Can You Hang a Prayer Plant?

You can grow a prayer plant in a hanging basket. It is a perennial that's evergreen and a slow-grower. These attributes make it a great plant for a hanging basket without any danger of it outgrowing the basket and needing to be repotted.

Prayer Plant Varieties

There are over 40 prayer plant species. However, there four popular houseplant choices.

Red Prayer Plant

The red prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) will grow to around 8" tall and is the most common of the prayer plant varieties. It is the plant most people think of when hearing the name prayer plant. Because of its leaf pattern, it is sometimes called the herringbone plant. The leaves are a dark green with red veins that arch from the spine to the outer edges of the leaves. A white or light green dappled pattern travels the center of the leaf spine. The underside of the leaves is a velvety, vibrant magenta with light red veins.

Red Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant Flower

Most prayer plants produce flowers, albeit usually very small or tiny blooms. When the red prayer plant flowers, it produces small pale lavender blossoms.

Pinstripe Prayer Plant

The pinstripe prayer plant (Calathea Ornata or Pinstripe Calathea) features dark green leaves that have white stripes. The stripes radiate from the dark green leaf spine and resemble long brush strokes that create stripes.

Pinstripe Prayer Plant

Black Prayer Plant

The black prayer plant, (Maranta leuconeura) has a silver/blue leaf that features purple splotches along the spine that often fade into the medium green colored edges. When the black prayer plant blooms, it produces tiny white flowers. This plant will grow up to 11" tall.

Black Prayer Plant

Green Prayer Plant

The green prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura 'Kerchoveana') is another common favorite houseplant. With light green leaves, there are darker green splotches that resemble dabs of a paint brush a couple of inches from the center and follow the length of the leaf spine. The green splotches are often a deep purple color. These splotches are often referred to as animal tracks, giving this variety the nickname, rabbit track plant.

Green Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant Care

Taking care of prayer plants is easy since all of the Maranta leuconeura species have the same requirements. The prayer plant's native environment is the rainforest, and these plants thrive best in a humid environment. You can place a potted prayer plant on a porch, deck, or patio. If you live in Zones 11 and 12, your environment is conducive to planting prayer plants in your yard or garden.

Prayer Plant Light Requirements

A prayer plant is an excellent houseplant since it is adaptable to low light or bright indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.

Water Requirements for Prayer Plants

You will discover that your prayer plant requires frequent watering. The rule is to never allow the soil to become dry. You need to make sure the soil is always moist. However, you want to avoid over watering. An important point that should be observed is to never water your prayer plant with cold tap water. You should use water that is room temperature. More importantly, you don't want to use water with fluoride since the prayer plant cannot tolerate it. You should mist the plant daily. You can set up a humidity tray of gravel and water and set the potted plant on top of the gravel to mimic a humid environment.

Prayer Plant

Ideal Temperature for Best Prayer Plant Health

Your prayer plant prefers a warm climate. For the best results, you should keep your plant in temperatures between 65°F to 70°F. If the temperature gets below 55°F, your plant could be damaged.

When to Repot You Prayer Plant

The slow growing prayer plant doesn't require frequent repotting. However, if your prayer plant needs repotting, you can follow the general container rules of selecting a new pot that is 2" wider in diameter. You'll need potting soil that is a mix of loam, peat moss and sand for ample drainage. You'll add new soil to the new pot, remove the plant from the old pot, center it, and tamp down new soil around the plant.

Prayer Plant Propagation

Propagating a prayer plant is easy. You will cut a leaf just below the leaf node. For best results, you can dip the cut end of the leaf stem in a rooting hormone. You can either root it in water or plant it directly into the new pot. If you opt for the latter, be sure to water it generously. If you choose the water method, your plant is ready for transplanting in soil as soon as the roots are about an inch long.

Is the Prayer Plant Toxic?

The prayer plant is not toxic to humans or animals. You can use this plant safely in your home.

Pests of the Prayer Plant

The prayer plant is susceptible to pests like other plants. Spider mites are the greatest threat to your prayer plant. You can keep the threat of spider mites at bay by misting your plant and wiping the leaves on the top and underside with a moist cloth. The sure sign of a spider mite infestation is tiny black dots on the leaves. As long as your plant is in a high humidity environment, spider mites shouldn't be a problem.

Prayer Plant Care for Your Household Plants

The maintenance and care of prayer plants is no more than other houseplants. The prayer plant will give you many years of beauty and joy.

Complete Prayer Plant Care and Growing Guide