Prayer plant, also known by its scientific name, Maranta leuconeura, is native to tropical areas of Central and South America. Prayer plant gains its common name from its leaves, which fold in at night, similar to praying hands. Hardy in zones 10 through 11 only, the plant cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Gardeners in the United States usually grow prayer plant indoors in containers, as it adapts well to typical household conditions. Most valued for its attractive, patterned foliage, prayer plant also produces small, white, inconspicuous flowers in spring if provided with the proper care.
Keep prayer plant in a location that receives four to six hours of filtered sunlight each day. Maintain a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees F during the day and 60 to 65 degrees F at night, using a thermometer to monitor the temperature if necessary.
Mist twice each day with a spray bottle to increase the humidity of the air surrounding the prayer plant. Fill the bottle with lukewarm water to reduce shock. Increase misting to three times per day during winter, when the air is drier.
Water the prayer plant once every five days during the spring and summer. Reduce to once every week during fall and winter, when active growth has ceased. Do not splash water on the foliage of the plant, as this will increase the risk of disease.
Feed once every two to three weeks from May until September using a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water before applying to minimize the chance of root burn. Read the manufacturer's directions for proper dosage information.
Re-pot in February or March once every two to three years to provide a fresh growing medium and allow room for the plant to grow. Increase the size of the container by about 3 inches each time. Use one part well-drained potting soil and one part organic compost for the best results.