The prayer plant (Maranta leucoreura), a popular houseplant, produces oval leaves that measure 8 inches long by 4 inches across. The leaves have the unique characteristic of folding upward during the night so they resemble praying hands, which tends to mystify the observer with their unusual appearance. A native of the tropics of Brazil, the plant only grows in tropical regions unless grown as a houseplant.
Availablity and Varieties
Widely available from plant nurseries, home improvement stores and other gardening locations, the prayer plant comes in several varieties. The leaves appear variegated with a dark green background and light green shading. The leaves have varying red, white, bronze or purple highlights laced throughout. The leaves offer no fall color change.
Throughout the year tiny white flowers are borne on short stems. Within the small white flower petals are spots of purple. During the spring months the plant can flower profusely.
The prayer plant is often utilized as ground cover in tropical regions. It has a spreading growth habit. The plant's root system is made of rapidly spreading rhizomes. Indoors, it can be grown in hanging baskets for a cascading appearance. The plant grows between 6 inches and 2 feet in height with a width up to 4 feet, according to the University of Florida.
Light and Temperature Requirements
The plant prefers to be grown in filtered light. During the winter months avoid placing the prayer plant in a window because the cold surface will cause the edges of its leaves to turn brown. The plant tolerates normal indoor temperatures when grown as a houseplant. It tolerates temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees F well.
Moist soil conditions are required. The plant does not tolerate dry soil. Fertilize the mystify prayer plant once per week using a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half strength for best results, according to the University of Oklahoma. Re-pot only when the plant outgrows its container. It has a very shallow root system so it grows well in a shallow container. It appreciates misting with a hand-held sprayer every few days.