Prayer Plant

For an eye-catching plant that is sure to garner plenty of compliments, the prayer plant is a great choice. What makes this houseplant stand out is the venation pattern of the leaves. Prayer plant leaves look like latte art…or the wake of a large boat…or the pin bones of a fish. The plant is also a dynamic performer. During the day, the plant opens its leaves wide to catch as much sun as possible. During the night, the leaves fold up like they’re praying. The prayer plant is among the most popular houseplants, and it’s a well-earned distinction in our opinion.

Prayer Plant Overview

Maranta leuconeura

Indoor Size and Growth Habits: Small-to-medium size with variegated and cascading foliage that grows relatively slowly.

Light Requirements: 3-4 *

Water Frequency & Soil Moisture: 3 *

Potting Mix, Fertilizer & pH: Standard potting soil mix with slightly acidic pH between 5.5-6.5. Likes fertilizer during growing season.

Humidity & Temperature: Prefers average-to-high humidity and temperatures between 60-85 degrees.

Toxicity Level: Non-toxic

Cost: $

Placement: Light, Size, and Décor

You may not want to place a prayer plant in a south- or west-facing window with unfiltered light, but you should give the plant as much indirect light as possible. This plant is a something of a climbing or cascading plant depending on its placement. It can start out as a small houseplant, but in favorable conditions, the foliage will take off and create a full medium-sized houseplant. In terms of home decorating, this is an opportunity you should be ready for. These houseplants are often best featured on metal shelving or woodworking or a high shelf where the leaves have plenty of room to cascade down the wall. At the same time, these plants aren’t toxic so you don’t have to worry as much about leaving this plant accessible to pets and small children.

Care: Potting, Water, and Soil

So long as you don’t ignore your houseplants for weeks on end, this plant isn’t too tough to care for. Semi-regular watering in a pot with drainage holes is a good place to start. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely—but without overwatering to the point of root rot. Botanists and horticulturalists aren’t entirely sure why the plant leaves fold up at night, but the prevailing theory is that it helps reduce fungal growth.

The prayer plant prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Standard potting soil mix should be good. Some mixture of peat moss and perlite is the core ingredients in most potting mix recipes. However, you will want to monitor the soil pH, especially if you have a habit of watering plants with tap water. This houseplant prefers warmer temperatures that stay above 60 degrees, so avoid placing a prayer plant in a drafty window. To get the plant to flower, you need to provide close to ideal conditions. Prayer plants create beautiful white blossoms, but the flowers usually last only 1-2 weeks.

Pests and Other Problems

Like most houseplants, the prayer plant is susceptible to any number of pests, especially during dry, winter months when there’s protective moisture in the air. Spider mites and mealybugs tend to be the most common pests. Keep an eye out for leaf spots that could be a sign of a pest infestation. Spider mites also create webbing on the leaf plants that can help identify a problem. Too much sunlight or too much fertilizer can create “burn” spots on the leaves. Similar discoloration on the leaf tips might also be a sign the soil has become too alkaline.

Cost and Availability

Despite its popularity, this houseplant is quite affordable. That’s because the foliage grows quickly and because it’s relatively easy to sell this plant. More expensive listings are often because of the pot not the plant.

Propagation and Repotting

There are multiple methods of propagating the prayer plant. For sizable plants, you can divide the plant with soil and roots and create two or three smaller prayer plants from one large plant. It’s best to do this in spring at the beginning of the growing season. You can also take a leaf cutting just below a node. These cuttings can be placed directly in soil, or you can propagate new roots in a container of distilled water and rooting hormone, before transplanting back to potting soil. The colorful foliage can spread quickly, but the stems and roots grow more slowly. The prayer plant may not need to be repotted for several years, but it can become pot-bound and will do best with some room for growth.

Similar Types of Houseplants

There are several subtypes of the prayer plant, including plants with red, green, or black leaf features. The black prayer plant is more of a combination of dark blues and purples. Looking for other plants with dynamic, reticulate leaf veins? We recommend you check out the nerve plant, zebra plant, or croton plant. Many peperomia plants are also notable for the visual appeal of their leaves, although these plants have parallel venation.