Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) possess the remarkable ability to fold their leaves in at night or in response to darkness, which gives them an appearance similar to praying hands. Light causes the leaves to resume their normal position, which anyone can witness by turning on a lamp near the plant after dark. Popular houseplants in the United States, prayer plants adapt well to normal conditions found inside most homes, including warm temperatures and moderate light. Prayer plants produce strikingly dramatic leaves, patterned with dark green to maroon markings. If provided with proper care, the plants may also produce small white flowers in spring.
Keep prayer plants indoors in a location that receives bright, indirect light throughout the day. Maintain a constant temperature of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid cold damage, never expose the plant to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Run a humidifier near prayer plants at all times to increase the relative humidity of the air to acceptable levels. Another option is to mist prayer plants two to three times per day with a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water.
Water once every five to seven days to keep the soil consistently moist--but not wet or soggy. Reduce watering frequency to once every 10 days during winter, when the plant is dormant. Soak the soil over the roots thoroughly at each application, and then drain away any excess moisture.
Feed prayer plants once every two weeks during the spring, summer and fall months using a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Apply at the rate recommended by the manufacturer for the best results. Do not fertilize during winter, as the plants require fewer nutrients during this time.
Repot once every two to three years, during February or March, to provide additional room for growth. Increase the size of the container by 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Use fresh potting soil to ease the shock of transplanting and water immediately after repotting to help initiate new growth.