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Prayer plants are both beautiful and popular houseplants that are known for their colorful tropical foliage and unique patterns. They are highly sought after for their vibrantly colored foliage especially those in oranges, pinks, and greens. However beautiful they may be, they can be a bit particular when it comes to care.
The term prayer plant generally includes 5 different species of plants. They are Geoperttia, Stromanthe, Ctenanthe, Maranta, and Calathea. We do have an article specifically for Calathea and Geoperttia here because they are considered the most particular and have very similar care requirements. In this article, we will cover some essential tips on how to care specifically for Maranta Prayer Plants.
These plants are native to the tropical rainforests of South and Central America. They are bushy understory plants that survive underneath large trees and in dense tropical jungles. Foliage is dense, resources are not heavily used and the humidity is high. Because they are understory creeping plants they grow very quickly and can root easily from each node.
One of the most important things to consider when caring for prayer plants is their light requirements. These plants are not suited for direct sunlight and should be kept in a shaded area with indirect light. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves, causing them to wilt, brown, or burn. Therefore, it is recommended to place them in a spot with bright but filtered light, such as near a north or east-facing window. Using a sheer curtain on brighter-lit windows and pulling the Maranta further back can also prevent sun damage to your plant.
Proper watering is crucial for the health of prayer plants. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can quickly cause the foliage to dry out and turn brown. It is recommended to water these plants when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure that the pot has adequate drainage, and avoid letting the plant sit in standing water. Use self-watering pots if you cannot keep up with the watering. Some will say filtered water is a requirement for prayer plants. This is not the case for Maranta unless you have heavy doses of chemicals like chlorine in your water.
Prayer plants are tropical plants that require higher humidity levels to thrive. These plants prefer a humid environment of around 50% to 60%. They can handle slightly lower percentages but will have some crisping on their edges or tips. You can place your plant pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water, which can increase ambient humidity by a few percentages, or use a humidifier. Indoor greenhouses and terrariums can be very effective as well. It is important to note that growth will be slower in lower humidity as well.
These plants enjoy warm and humid conditions and should be kept in a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F. They do not enjoy the cold and are not frost-hardy plants. Therefore, it is recommended to keep them away from air conditioning vents, windows, and doors. Do not leave them outdoors or open windows when the temperatures are going to drop below 55°f.
Soil and Fertilizer
Prayer plants thrive in a well-draining but moisture-retentive soil mix. Over-fertilizing can cause fertilizer burn. Utilize perlite and an African Violet soil for water retention and low fertilizer amounts. Many standard potting mixes come with heavy doses of fertilizer that can burn your Maranta foliage. African violet mixes have much less and are very moisture retentive as well. You can also use a mix of 50 % standard potting soil with 25% horticultural charcoal and 25% fir bark to make a more chunky mix for your prayer plant. Still moisture retentive but mimicking the soil they would get in their natural tropical understory environment. Whatever mix you do use, be aware of the moisture retention, draining ability, and fertilizer amount.
Pruning and Propagation
Maranta does not require frequent pruning but may benefit from occasional trimming to remove damaged leaves. When you prune the stems, the leaves that grow from that location will be smaller before sizing back up again.
These plants can also be propagated through stem cuttings or division. So when your prune healthy stem cuttings from your Maranta(not Calathea) they can be rooted in water or any media in a propagation box. We have an article here on how to make propagation boxes. You can also divide prayer plants at the base if they have multiple shoots and grow them in separate pots in high humidity or a propagation box.
Prayer plants are beautiful houseplants that require specific care to thrive. Maranta is the easiest and most forgiving of prayer plants. They are a great beginner prayer plants for those who are trying prayer plants for the first time. By following the basics of care above, you can help ensure that you have a happy healthy, and even easy care prayer plant. With proper care, your prayer plant or can be a stress-free stunning addition to your home.