Plant-o-pedia: Prayer Plant
The Prayer Plant has been a popular houseplant for decades and with its vibrant, patterned foliage it’s not hard to see why. With flashes of neon green, deep purples, bright pinks, and more, these striking leaves are sure to grab some attention, but once day turns into night, the real show begins. Prayer Plants, like many plants in the Marantaceae family, fold up their leaves at night and if you’re paying attention, you might be able to see it happen! If you want to see the whole process, our friend Darryl, at Houseplant Journal has some great time lapse videos of his Prayer Plants in action.
Prayer Plants can be a bit tricky to keep happy. They do best with some humidity, so keep this in mind as you choose a spot for yours. A bathroom with fairly bright indirect light can be a perfect fit as the steam from the shower or bath will add humidity to the air. No window in your bathroom? Not to worry- Prayer Plants can be placed anywhere with bright to medium indirect light, you may just need to boost the humidity around them by keeping them in a grouping of plants, running a humidifier, using a humidity tray (tray with pebbles and water that sits under the plant), or misting the leaves. If your plant seems to be getting the perfect amount of water and light, but the leaves are turning brown in spots/along the edges, chances are you need to give it some more humidity. The extra effort is well worth the payoff this beautiful and active plant provides.
GET THE GREEN: Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura; ‘Kim’ and ‘Marisela’ pictured, but there are numerous species/cultivars)
WATER: Plant in pot with good drainage. Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Water just before the surface of the soil dries out. Prayer Plants do not like to dry out completely and leaves may turn brown along edges and in spots, if allowed to get too dry between watering. In winter months, this plant may go through a dormancy period where you’ll see little to no growth. This is normal. During this time simply allow the soil to dry out a bit more than in the warmer growing season.
SUNLIGHT: Bright to medium indirect light. Protect from direct sun. If parts of the leaves turn brown and crispy, it may be getting too much light, though this is also a sign of not enough water or humidity, so rule that out first before moving the plant.
PLACEMENT: The Prayer Plant will branch out a bit, so it looks great as a hanging plant, or sitting on a shelf where it has some room to spread. This plant doesn’t get overly large though, so it’s perfect for a plant grouping. Because this plant likes humidity, a bathroom with good indirect light is a great home for it.
EXTRA CREDIT: Extra humidity is needed to keep leaves looking their best. Keeping this plant in a grouping of other plants can help, as will a humidifier or misting the leaves. Prayer Plants fold their leaves at night so keep an eye on them at dusk and you might get to witness their little bedtime dance!
WORD OF CAUTION: According to the ASPCA, Prayer Plants are non-toxic to cats and dogs. Yay!
In the LA area and want to learn more about caring for all of your houseplants? Come to Danae’s Houseplant 101 workshop, this Saturday from 2-5pm at The Line Hotel. Full details and registration here.