The prayer plant ( Maranta leuconeura ) gets its nickname from the way its foliage curls at night and spreads during the day, giving the appearance of hands opening and closing while praying. In this article, we will learn how to propagate, and grow prayer plants or Maranta and its care.
The Maranta leuconeura variety has foliage of great decorative beauty that makes it one of the most beautiful plants in the natural world. The tricolor variety is the most popular among gardeners.
This variety features dark green leaves with a velvety finish. You’ll find yellow spots on the leaf veins and deep red veins that arch to the margins.
The mature prayer plant has 6-inch leaves that arise from a sturdy central stem and droop down the sides of the pot.
Most varieties never exceed 20 cm in height, but can reach girths up to double or triple the height of the plant.
These plants only last a few years and trying to maintain them for longer is a challenge, even for professional gardeners.
Where to grow prayer plants?
They do well in moist environments, such as terrariums and greenhouses. However, you can grow these plants in any room in your house if you know how to care for them.
Plants need adequate airflow to fight bacterial and fungal infections, but don’t let them near a vent. Drafts can stunt plant growth and it will have a hard time recovering.
As for the pot, it is good to use a large entry pot so as not to have to carry out transplants often, a 10-liter pot is perfect for this plant.
How to propagate a prayer plant
You may be surprised to learn that the prayer plant is easy to propagate. Popular propagation methods include rhizome division and stem cuttings to create more plants from the mother.
Propagate by root division
The most common type of propagation is division during the transplanting phase.
When transplanting, remove the roots and shake loose soil from the plant. Separate the roots until you have several separate plants.
Place the divided plants in separate pots using the potting mix described above, covering all roots well and watering with plenty of water.
Propagate by cuttings (stems)
If you want to propagate your plants with cuttings, make sure you take the cutting below the leaf node and that it is at least 10cm tall.
After taking the cutting, place it in a container upright with some water. After an hour, remove the cutting and plant it in a small container of potting mix.
Keep the soil moist with a spray bottle so as not to disturb the roots as they establish.
When the plants begin to put out new growth, send them to a larger container with the appropriate soil amendments.
Proper Light Conditions for Prayer Plant
- The prayer plant enjoys bright, indirect sunlight conditions. It is essential that you never place it in direct sunlight, or the leaves will burn and the plant will begin to wilt.
- It is also reasonably tolerant of low light conditions. If you live in a region where it is cloudy for many days of the year, these plants will continue to grow in low sunlight conditions.
- These plants go into a dormant period in winter. During this stage, you can leave the plant in a darker room to help it recover from the stress of the growing season. After a break, the plant returns to the next growing season.
Soil Type for Prayer Plant
- Prayer plant prefers light, airy soil with a slightly acidic pH. The ideal pH is between 5.5 and 6.0. Use a potting mix that includes peat moss as well as a sand or perlite mix.
- Perlite or sand provides air to the roots of the soil and improves drainage. Peat moss also provides an aerated substrate that retains moisture. Use only prepackaged soil amendments and never use soil from your garden unless you have a flowering bed.
- The use of normal garden soil causes compaction of the soil that clogs the roots, causing the appearance of root rot.
- These plants do not like to have their feet “wet”. If the roots remain in soggy soil for long periods, root rot is to be expected.
- Root rot causes foliage to wilt, and soon after, the plant will die.
- To improve soil drainage, use a pot with many holes in the bottom and fill the bottom of the container with a layer of small stones.
Prayer Plant Care
- During the spring and summer, the gardener must be sure to keep the soil moist. He waters every two or three days, depending on the weather conditions in your area. Don’t let the earth dry out. Dry soil favors the appearance of pests, which will ruin your prayer-plants.
- However, do not overwater your plants. As we have already said, over-watering can lead to root rot, which kills the prayer plant. Dig your finger a centimeter into the soil, if the fingertip feels dry, it’s time to water the plant.
- It is also essential that the gardener does not drip water onto the leaves of the prayer plant when watering it. Water on leaves can attract fungal diseases and cause leaves to wilt.
- The prayer plant goes into a dormant phase during the winter. Avoid watering it and let it rest in a darker room during the winter. The plant will come back to life when you water it in early spring.
humidity and temperature
- Prayer plants like to grow in warm climates between 15 and 26 C. When the temperature drops below 12 C overnight, damage to the leaves can result.
- If you have outdoor prayer-plants on your patio and in pots, bring them in overnight to keep them warm.
- If you live in a warmer area, you can wrap your plants in burlap at night to keep them warm.
- They require a moist environment to thrive. For this reason, they develop so well on the coasts. However, if you live in a dry region, you can simulate humid conditions by creating a microclimate around your plant.
- Place a few stones in a drip tray, then put the pot on top of the stones. Add water to the tray, but don’t let the water level reach the bottom of the pot.
- As the water evaporates from the tray, it reaches the leaves of the plant. As a result, a microclimate is created around it, providing it with the relative humidity it needs to thrive.
- Prayer plants do well if given a boost of fertilizer in early spring.
- Use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer and dilute it to half-strength. Using a full strength fertilizer can burn leaves. Use a 10-10-10 formula at half strength and feed the plant every two weeks until late summer.
- They need compost to reach their full potential as houseplants. Prayer plants that do not receive any food during the growing season experience stunted growth.
- Never fertilize your plants in winter. If you continue to feed them in the dormant period, the lifespan of the plant is reduced.
Pests and diseases that affect the prayer plant
- If you grow prayer plants outside, they are at risk for mealybug, whitefly, aphid, and spider mite infestations.
- These pests start to appear when the soil remains too dry for long periods. The insects lay eggs in the soil and hatch.
- Always check your outdoor plants for pests before bringing them indoors, or you risk infecting your other plants.