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Prayer plants

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Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is a flowering plant of the family Marantaceae, known for its large underground starchy rhizomes or tubers. It is native to the New World tropics.

The leaves of this plant tend to fold together at night, like a pair of praying hands hence the name ‘Prayer Plant’. Prayer plants are grown as houseplants for their large ornamental leaves, which are variegated in shades of green, white, and pink.

Prayer plant is a generic term that refers to members of genus Maranta, to which genus Calathea is closely-related. They’re all considered to be Prayer plants

There are around 30 Genera under the family Marantaceae. Maranta, Stromanthe, Calathea (now Geoppertia), and Ctenanthes are widely known.

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How to grow Prayer Plants?

These plants are from the rainforest. So, we need to create a rain forest environment at our home. Though it is not advisable for beginners, once we figure out how to take care of it, it is easy to maintain.

let us delve into Prayer plant requirements of water, light, humidity, soil, nutrients requirements, pests control, propagation, pruning, and much more.

Prayer plant

How much water do Prayer plants need?

Prayer plants prefer slightly moist soil. When watering, let water drain completely from the drain hole. If it is too dry, the leaves (leaf tip) will turn brown or yellow.

This plant is sensitive to high Salts, Fluoride or Chlorine. So, filter or distilled water is better. Tap water once in a while fine though.

Moisture meter is a handy tool to check the soil moisture.

 Click here for more information on a moisture meter.

How much light do Prayer plants need?

They like medium to low light and but not direct sunlight. If there is not enough lighting, the leaves are stretched, thinned. Leaves will be covered with yellow spots if it is placed under direct sunlight.

Calathea bella
Calathea bella

What temperature do Prayer plants prefer?

This plant prefers humid temperature. We can group the Prayer plants so that the high humidity is provided. But, ensure little distance is maintained so that they get air circulation.

The ideal humidity levels are between 50-60% and see that is not lower than 40%. It is better to use a Humidity meter if possible.

Mist the plants every 2-3 days if humidity level is low or use humidified (once or twice a week for about an hour). Another option is to put water in a plate/saucer with pebbles, fill the plate with water and place the pot on top of it.

If humidity is less, its leaves’ edges turn brown.

Does the pest attack Calathea plant?

The most common pest for Calathea is the spider mite. Mealybugs and scale insects can also attack calathea. Neem oil is effective against these pests. Don’t use the Neem oil too much because it can damage the leaves. Mist the plants or wipe the leaves with a wet cloth. Spider mites like dry condition.
Cleaning the leaves with a mixture of water and dish soap with a spray bottle is another alternative, this will suffocate the pests. Afterward, we can wipe the leaves. We should repeat this process every one to two weeks, just to make sure it doesn’t spread too much.

how to propagate prayer plant

There are two main ways to propagate prayer plants: by division and by stem cuttings.


Division is the easiest way to propagate prayer plants, and it is best done in the spring when the plant is actively growing.

To propagate prayer plants by division:

  • Gently remove the plant from its pot and brush away any excess soil.
  • Use a knife or gardening shears to divide the plant into two or more sections. Make sure that each section has at least one healthy root and one or two leaves.
  • Repot each section in a separate pot with fresh potting mix.
  • Water the plants well and place them in a warm, bright location.

Stem cuttings:

To propagate prayer plants by stem cuttings:

  • Cut a healthy stem from the plant, making sure to leave at least one node (A node is a small bump on the stem where new leaves and roots will grow) on the cutting.
  • Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting.
  • Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone (optional).
  • Plant the cutting in a pot with moist potting mix.
  • Water the cutting well and place it in a warm, bright location.
  • Keep the potting mix moist but not soggy.
  • Roots should form within a few weeks.
  • Once the roots are established, you can transplant the new plant into a larger pot.

No matter which method you choose, be sure to use clean and sharp the tools to avoid damaging the plant.

Here are some additional tips for propagating prayer plants:

  • Prayer plants prefer a warm, humid environment. If you live in a dry climate, you can place a plastic bag over the cutting or pot to create a humid microclimate.
  • Mist the cutting or pot regularly to keep it moist.
  • Be patient! It can take several weeks for roots to form.
  • Once the new plant has developed a good root system, you can care for it as you would any other prayer plant.

What soil is good for the Prayer plant?

Prayer plants are prone to rot. So, it is better to use a free-draining soil mix. The prayer plant likes to be kept moist. To keep the moisture in the soil, use 50 to 60% of the premium potting mix, around 40% cactus soil, and remaining perlite.

What fertilizer should I use for a Calathea plant?

Calathea does not need a whole lot of fertilizing. They will do well with a standard houseplant fertilizer. Apply fertilizer during periods of growth and flowering.

How safe is a Calathea plant?

Calathea is considered nontoxic to cats and dogs.

Why Prayer plant leaves are curling after repotting?

The possible reasons could be the new pot is too big or there is too much sunlight.
Try to give it a good soaking. If it doesn’t work, you take out the plant from the pot, snip off the roots, and put it in a jar of water for few days. When it gets substantial root growth, you can re-pot it.
You should consider repotting of prayer plant only if its roots are overcrowded. Unlike other plants, this plant can tolerate being root-bounded.