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The Prayer Plant Is an Easy to Care For Unique Houseplant

If you’re on a quest to add a houseplant with striking foliage to your collection, look no further.

By: THURSD. | 14-12-2022 | 7 min read
Explained Houseplants
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With folding leaves, the prayer plant is a fascinating and distinctive houseplant to have at home. The interesting internal shapes, lines, and colors are what make the prayer plant a must-have nowadays. Plus, the prayer plant gets its name from a very interesting perspective. Here's everything you need to know about this thrilling houseplant.

The Prayer Plant in Detail

Who doesn't love the presence of beautiful green houseplants? The world is the greenest green we've ever seen and houseplants are rapidly invading every space of every home around the planet. The prayer plant is no exception. It is not the usual 'all-green' plant, but rather exuberates curious inner colors, lines, and shapes which is what actually calls the attention of many plant parents. Tropical prayer plants are some of the most beautiful house plants you can find out there.

 

Prayer plant indoor houseplant on Thursd
Photo: Feey

 

The oval-shaped, beautifully patterned foliage of the prayer plant has earned it a favored spot among houseplants. Whether you are just starting out with houseplants or are an expert grower, the prayer plant is an excellent choice. Given the right light, moisture and temperature they will thrive, but the care handles come later. It's time to dig more into the background of this magnificent houseplant. See also '15 Rare Houseplants You Will Love'.

Prayer Plant at Its Finest

The prayer plant is one of the most easily recognized tropical plants because of its exquisitely ornamental leaves. The common tricolor cultivar has velvety, deep green leaves with yellow spots running down the midrib and arcing red veins extending to the leaf borders. This plant grows slowly but finally reaches a height of up to one foot within.

 

Prayer plant physical look on Thursd
Photo: Unsplash

 

Although they can be grown inside at any time of the year and are quite popular as houseplants, they are not always simple to maintain in terms of long-term growth, but it's important to differentiate that they are indeed easy-to-care-for houseplants. Read the article 'Houseplants With the Most Unique Leaves', to see what other plants subdue such rare but beautiful leaves.

History of the Prayer Plant

The prayer plant, scientifically known as Maranta leuconeura, is a perennial flowering plant species that is a member of the Marantaceae botanical family and is indigenous to tropical South America, the West Indies, Asia, and Africa. The broad, oval, variegated leaves of this tropical plant are quite lovely and attractive, but what makes them truly unique is what lies beneath.

 

Origin of the prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: Gardener's Path

 

The prayer plant, often nicknamed the 'obedience plant' or 'praying hands', gets its name from the peculiar behavior of elevating the leaves to an upright position at night, resembling the way young children join their hands in prayer. The leaves fold like hands during prayer. They reopen in the early morning light, perhaps with a subtle rustle.

How Should You Care for a Prayer Plant?

Low-growing, spreading prayer plants do best in greenhouse-like circumstances, which include warm, wet, soft airflow and lots of fertilizer. The plant may collapse or die from root rot in poorly drained soil. Similar to how plants can become washed out and get brown patches on their leaves from too much sun exposure. These are the specific care handles you should follow to have your prayer plant giving you its best every single day!

Light Requirements

Your prayer plant should be hung or placed close to a window so it may get some filtered light. Never place your plant in direct sunlight as this may cause the leaves to burn, develop spots or blotches, or lose color intensity. In general, prayer plants can tolerate locations with less light. During the winter, when the plants become dormant (and occasionally fully die back), give them intense light to keep them growing.

 

Light requirements for the prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: Paisley Plants

 

Water Requirements

Water your prayer plant frequently throughout the growing season, especially when the top layer becomes dry, and never let the potting soil get entirely dry. Due to their vulnerability to drought, these plants cannot be left unwatered for an extended period of time.

However, avoid letting water sit directly on the leaves or allowing the plant to become wet to prevent fungal issues. Use water that is at least room temperature, if not slightly warm, while watering your prayer plant. Both insufficient water and overwatering your plant can result in the leaves becoming yellow and dropping.

Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperature range for prayer plants is between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius. Lower temperatures for an extended period of time can harm the leaves and make them fall off the plant. Additionally, prayer plants do best in an area that is quite humid. You can put a tiny humidifier nearby or set the plant on a tray that has water and small stones in it to boost the humidity that is available to it. You can also often spritz the leaves with warm or room-temperature water.

 

Perfect temperature and humidity levels for the prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: The Contented Plant

 

How to Fertilize Your Prayer Plant

From early spring through fall, fertilize your prayer plant every two weeks (cutting back to once a month in winter) using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Your plant will grow slowly or not at all if you apply too little fertilizer. But too much fertilizer can damage the plant's roots, turning its leaves brown and possibly killing it.

Most Popular Types of Prayer Plants

Although there are several different types of prayer plants, the tricolor variety that is sold at many garden centers is by far the most popular. It is typical for prayer plants and calathea plants to be misidentified because they are so closely related to one another. The following species are the most prevalent ones in the Maranta genus:

1. Maranta Leuconeura Erythrophylla

The most popular type of this tricolored prayer plant, often known as the herringbone plant, has striking red veins.

 

Maranta Leuconeura Erythrophylla prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: The Healthy Houseplant

 

2. Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana

This type of prayer plant has plain green leaves with two rows of darker splotches. It is also referred to as Rabbit's Tracks.

 

Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: Steve's Leaves

 

3. Maranta Leuconeura Massangeana

This variation has white leaf veins, a midrib covered with silvery spots, and a darker leaf background.

 

Maranta Leuconeura Massangeana prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: Green Amigos

 

Propagation of the Prayer Plant

Propagating prayer plants is a surprisingly easy way to increase your collection and make use of larger mother plants. The most common (and easiest) way to propagate prayer plants is to divide the plant while repotting. Here are some great tips to successfully propagate your prayer plant:

 

Propagation of the prayer plant on Thursd
Photo: Brittany Goldwyn

 

A Houseplant That Is Safe for Children and Pets

What is better than having your favorite houseplant around your house, plus the fact it is completely non-toxic for both children and your beloved pets? One more reason why it's considered one of the best houseplants to have at home.

Common Pests Found in the Prayer Plant

Like many other houseplants, prayer plants can be prone to spider mites and mealybugs. If you notice signs of infestation, such as a white powdery substance on the leaves or browning of the foliage, you can treat your plant with a natural insecticide such as neem oil.

Fun Fact About The Prayer Plant

When, why, and how do prayer plants move and 'pray'? Prayer Plant leaves constantly move during the day, but most dramatically when they shift up in a vertical “praying hand” position in the evening. The motion comes from the movement of liquid in special cells at the base of each leaf. Prayer Plants move in reaction to the amount of light in their environment, but no one is 100% sure why they evolved to move this way.

 

 

Marantas and their relatives display nyctinastic movement sometimes called sleeping movement in response to light levels. These movements function on a 24-hour clock and occur in all the leaves regardless of their size or age. The mechanism behind nyctinasty in the prayer plant is called the pulvinus. Pulvini are located at the base of leaves and are joint-like collections of cells. These cells either swell or contract depending on the amount of liquid present in each. As the size of those cells changes, it creates pressure that results in leaf movement. You can detailedly know more about this houseplants movements here.

 

Prayer plant closeup on Thursd
Photo: Unsplash

 

Had you ever heard about the prayer plant before? You've now got more than enough reasons to make it part of your houseplant collection.

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