How to Care for a Prayer Plant in the Home

Overview

Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), also known as husband and wife plant, is a popular houseplant valued for its attractive foliage and ease of care indoors. The plant produces ornamental, light green leaves with dark green markings that reach up to 5 inches in length. The plant's common name derives from its light-sensitive leaves that fold up at night, giving the appearance of praying hands. While prayer plant flowers during summer, the white blossoms are small and inconspicuous. Native to Central and South America, prayer plant requires a warm, humid environment to thrive. North American gardeners commonly grow the plant in their homes to better provide optimal growing conditions.

Step 1

Keep the prayer plant in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day, such as a west- or south-facing window. Maintain a consistent temperature of 60 to 85 degrees F at all times for optimal growth. Normal household temperatures are usually sufficient, but never expose the plant to extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Step 2

Run a humidifier near the prayer plant at all times to increase the relative humidity near the plant. Alternatively, mist the prayer plant using a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water twice per day, every day. Low humidity causes leaf tips to turn brown and may cause leaves to drop.

Step 3

Water the plant once every five days during spring, summer and fall to keep the soil consistently moist. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every seven to 10 days during winter, allowing the soil to dry slightly between applications. Apply water until it begins to drain from the bottom of the container, and then remove any excess to prevent rotting.

Step 4

Feed the prayer plant once per month during spring, summer and fall using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Ensure the soil is moist before applying to avoid burning the plant's roots. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer for proper dosage. Do not feed during winter.

Step 5

Re-pot the prayer plant during early spring once every two or three years, or whenever the plant outgrows its current container. Increase the size of the new pot by 3 to 5 inches and use a fresh, well-drained, fertile potting soil to ease transplanting and encourage new root growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Humidifier
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Fertilizer
  • Pot
  • Potting soil

References

  • Michigan State University Extension Ornamental Plants: Maranta -- Prayer Plant
  • Texas A&M University East Texas Gardening: Prayer Plant
  • "Beyond the Windowsill"; Jon Carloftis; 2007
Keywords: prayer plant, Maranta leuconeura, prayer plant care

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.