How to Care for Prayer Plants Indoors?

The ‘Maranta Leuconeura’ species, also known with its common name – Prayer Plant, are known to have strikingly elegant and beautiful leaves in the plant kingdom.

The Plant is named ‘Prayer’ as the leaves stay flat during the day and close like in prayer at night.

‘Leuconeura’ means ‘white-veined.’ The beautiful foliage has elliptical leaves with dark green and light green patterns interlaced with reddish veins against the soft green background.

How to Care for Prayer Plants Indoors

Prayer plants are native to the tropical rainforest of Brazil and are commonly grown as houseplants in all parts of the world.

Advantages of Growing Prayer Plants Indoors

Prayer Plants are healthy and can live for over 30 years under the right conditions. They are beautiful houseplants and do not require much maintenance. Put them up in hanging baskets or containers.

Grow the Prayer plants for their unique behavior. The leaves are flat during the day and close up vertically at night in rhythm with the sun. This process is called ‘Nyctinasty’ and triggers by changes in sunlight.

This process helps the plant to live for many years. As the leaves fold up, it reduces the likelihood of bacterial growth by preventing water, dust from collecting on its surface.

Nyctinasty also helps the plant to retain moisture.

The Prayer Plants have variegated beautiful leaf structures, making them a delight to look at while also cleaning indoor air.

They are Hardy plants coming under USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12.

Prayer Plants are known to have some medicinal properties. A chemical known as rosmarinic acid is present in the Prayer Plant. This chemical is known to produce antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects by inhaling or absorbing through the skin.

The chemical found in the Prayer Plant is effective in reducing an anti-allergic response to pollen. It also helps in reducing symptoms of nasal congestion and atopic dermatitis.

The Different Varieties of Prayer Plants

There are many varieties of Prayer Plants, with the most common species being ‘Maranta Leuconeura.’ The tricolor of this plant makes it very attractive. It is the most classic variety of house plants.

Among the ‘Maranta Leuconeura’ species, there are few common varieties grown indoors.

Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana

The leaves are olive green and have purple markings between the veins. Its other name is ‘Rabbit’s foot.’

Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana

Maranta Leuconeura Erythroneura

The other name for this plant is ‘Red Prayer Plant.’ It has dark green leaves with purple spots and veins having a deep red color.

Maranta Leuconeura Erythroneura

Maranta Leuconeura Massangeana

This variety has dark green leaf background with silver patches along the midrib with white veins.

Care Guide for Growing Prayer Plant Indoors

Prayer Plants are low growing spreading plants that make excellent house plants. They are non-toxic to pets and can live for years with the right conditions.

Prayer Plants are slow-growing and can be grown in potted in hanging baskets. Let us look into their care requirements.

How to Water Prayer Plants?

Being tropical plants, they like the potting soil to be moist but not overly wet. Overwatering causes the prayer plant roots to rot.

Water the plant if you feel that the top inch of soil is a little dry. Prayer Plants should not be allowed to dry out completely.

This plant is sensitive to fluoride. It is better to use filtered water and avoid hard water. In case you plan to use tap water, make sure it sits for a few hours so that the chlorine and any other chemicals in it can escape.

Prayer Plants thrive in rainwater. So collect rainwater in a bucket and water them from it.

Curled yellow leaves are a sign of under-watering, and limp stems are a sign of overwatering.

Prayer plants are also sensitive to cold water. Use room temperature or slightly warm water in the morning. This way, the water will dry before the evening.

How much light should the Prayer Plant get?

Native to tropical rainforests, Prayer Plants thrive in indirect sunlight and low light conditions. Direct sun exposure can cause the leaves to burn.

An east-facing or a North window is an excellent place to set the plant by either hanging or placing on the ground.

The plant is tolerant of lower light areas but cannot survive in complete darkness. Use fluorescent bulbs if you have a dark room with no sunlight.

Prayer plants require good bright indirect light even in the dormant winter period.

Soil requirements of Prayer Plants

Prayer plants require well-drained and acidic soil.

Prayer plants grow well in a peat-based potting mix consisting of sphagnum peat moss, loam soil, and sand/vermiculite mixed in the ratio of 2:1:1.

Make sure the container also has the right amount of drainage holes so water can drain adequately from the roots and the soil.

The ideal pH is in the range of 5.5 to 6.0. Increase the acidic levels with the addition of sphagnum peat moss.

Prayer Plants have shallow roots. They do not require a deep container with too much soil. Excess soil will retain more water and cause the plant to develop root rot.

Temperature requirement of Prayer plants

Prayer Plants need the temperature in the room to be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures hotter than 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C) results in less growth. Lower temperature levels end up damaging the plant foliage.

Do Prayer Plants require humidity?

Prayer plants do need high humid environments to grow. Increase the humidity in their location with a humidifier or by placing pebbles soaked water tray below the pot. Make sure the water level does not touch the pot’s base.

Prayer Plants love misting. Use a fine water spray from time to time to shower the plant.

A bright bathroom is an ideal place to place the Prayer Plant.

Fertilizer requirements of Prayer Plants

Prayer plants respond well to any water-soluble houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Reduce the amount to half from the manufacturer’s recommended dilution rate.

An ideal fertilizer would be in the ratio of 10-10-10 or 8-8-8. Fertilize every two weeks in the growing season (spring to fall) and do not fertilize after fall in the winter dormancy period.

Pruning

Pruning the Prayer Plants two to three times a year will help them to grow well. The Prayer Plants respond to pruning with healthy growth. Use scissors or hands to snip off a few inches.

Make sure the cuts on the stems are just above leaf growth. It will help new stems and leaves to grow from the leaf nodes located below the cut.

You can also propagate the prayer plant by making a cut just below the node. Now, dip the stem of the plant in rooting hormone and place it in water to retain moisture (or place it in a mixture of peat moss and perlite)

Problems Encountered while Growing Prayer Plants

One of the common problems affecting prayer-plants is ‘Leaf Spot.’ It is caused by overwatering.

‘Leaf spot’ cannot be reversed, but they can be slowed by giving less water and letting the plant dry up a bit (not completely dry).

Overwatering also makes the Prayer Plants susceptible to root rot and plant death. Underwatering is always better than overwatering in the case of these plants.

An infested garden/outdoor soil causes the Nematodes to infest the roots. The plant wilts and fails to recover. The only way to diagnose nematodes infestation is to dig up and examine the roots.

You will find large swellings holding the larvae of nematodes. The only cure is to get rid of the plant and start with a new one.

Prayer plants are also susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs. Use an insecticidal spray like neem oil, or a combination of detergent soap+ neem oil + water to get rid of these pests.

Increasing the humidity levels also helps to get rid of spider mites.

A high PH in the soil of Prayer Plants can cause chlorosis. It is essentially an iron deficiency and can cause death if not treated.

The immediate step would be to add an iron supplement followed by the correction of pH levels. Use a pH meter to get the right balance.

Conclusion

Prayer Plants are beautiful houseplants that do not require a lot of maintenance. They are slow-growing plants that live for many years under the right conditions. Their attractive leaves curling up in the night are an absolute delight.

They can be grown on floors near indirect sunlight or hung in pots. Prayer plants are safe and non-toxic to pets. They have a chemical that helps in nasal congestion and allergies like atopic dermatitis and those caused by pollen.

You can choose from among the three common varieties of Prayer Plants. They are readily available in garden stores and nurseries.

They are hardy plants that thrive in bright indirect sunlight. They can also tolerate low light levels. Make sure to maintain a high humidity atmosphere near them. Under the right temperature, water, and pH, you can enjoy Prayer Plants for many years!

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