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How Much & How Often to Water Prayer Plant: Care, Signs, & FAQ

The prayer plant, also called Maranta Leuconeura1, resembles Calathea, but the two are different, especially in their care needs. For instance, it’s more challenging to take care of Calathea compared to the Maranta. Thus, the maranta could be an excellent alternative to the Calathea if you want a simpler and low-maintenance plant.

The plant derives its name, “prayer plant,” from folding its leaves during the night. It’s characterized by longer vines and beautiful leaves. The prayer plant is thirsty by nature2, just like most trailing plants such as Pothos and Philodendron. It has to work harder to get sufficient water for the elongating vines. However, keep the plant in moist but not soggy conditions.

Are you a houseplant beginner looking for tips on taking care of and watering the Maranta plant? You’re in the right place, and this guide is for you!

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Watering Frequency for the Maranta Plant

Prayer plants react fast to dry conditions and water shortage affects them significantly. However, the plant is also vulnerable to damage if you overwater it. Maintaining a consistent watering schedule and checking it often to ensure it’s growing in optimum conditions is advisable.

So, how frequently should you water the plant to keep it healthy? The thirsty Maranta plant must be watered at least once every 2 weeks. However, it’s important to check the soil moisture every 4–5 days using your finger or moisture meter. We’ve already mentioned Maranta loves moist soil, and it’s more likely to dry before the end of the second week after watering. But avoid watering it no matter how much you love to take care of your plant in between unless it’s evident that the soil is dry.

Maranta Plant
Photo Credit By: JumpStory

Bottom vs. Top Watering

Top watering is a common method that people use when watering potted plants. It involves pouring water onto the soil surface, and water seeps into the soil for the roots to absorb.

Bottom watering, on the other hand, entails placing a potted plant into a water bath and allowing the soil to absorb the water slowly. The absorption process may last for approximately 30 minutes, depending on the following factors:

  • Size of the pot
  • The condition of the soil (dry soils take more time)
  • Number of drainage holes drilled on the pot

Bottom watering has numerous benefits, including:

  • There are slim chances of overwatering the plant
  • It requires less effort
  • The process facilitates even distribution of water and moisture

Which Water Is Suitable for Maranta Plants?

The prayer plant is often sensitive to hard tap water. It’s important to leave the water out overnight or filter it before using it to water the prayer plant. Use tepid water or rainwater, which is free from chemicals.

Signs You’re Under-Watering Your Prayer Plant

1. Yellow Leaves

Two things lead to the yellowing of the Maranta plant’s leaves. The first cause is that you may be exposing the plant to direct sunlight, causing the leaf to drain water or the yellowing may indicate burnt marks. You can overcome this problem by keeping the plant away from direct sunlight and maintaining optimal conditions such as sufficient watering.

The yellowing of leaves may also indicate that the leaf is aging. There’s nothing much you can do when leaves turn yellow in this instance. The good news is that new leaves continue growing to replace the aging ones.

Maranta Plant
Photo Credit By: JumpStory

2. Drooping Leaves

A drooping may signify two things: the plant is getting insufficient water or a heavy stem. Water the plant if you notice it’s drooping and the soil is dry and your prayer will become healthy again. On the other hand, a long stem means that your stems or leaves may be too heavy to grow vertically.

Most pictures you may have come across show the Maranta plant growing vertically. However, if the plant grows horizontally, propagate the plant often to maintain the stem size to grow upward.

3. Brown Leaf Tips

You might notice the appearance of brown tips on your Maranta. There could be several reasons for brown leaves and ways to deal with them.

The first thing to review is your watering habits. For instance, you’re overwatering the plant if you never allow the soil to dry. However, dry soil within 1–3 days after watering means you’re under-watering your plant. Regulate your watering habits.

The second thing is checking your plant’s exposure to sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight leaves burn marks on the Maranta. Move the plant to a slightly dark place if it’s receiving direct or too much sunlight.

A third but less common problem is placing your water plant in an environment with low humidity. You can eliminate the problem by exposing the plant to more humid conditions.

Which Soil Retains More Water for the Prayer Plant?

One of the questions asked frequently about how to care for houseplants has to do with soil. So, which soil is the best for your Maranta?

We mentioned earlier in this guide that prayer plants do best in moist or humid soils. The next step is picking the best ingredients to improve the conditions of ordinary potting soil. Soil thickens and becomes compact with time due to frequent watering. Such soils reduce the oxygen supply to the roots of pot plants.

The good news is that you can improve the conditions of potting soil. However, you can’t add perlite to the soil because it increases the rate of draining moisture. So, how can you create soil with perfect conditions for your prayer plant?

Peat moss does the trick. Peat moss refers to dead Sphagnum moss, and you can use it for keeping the potting soil light while retaining moisture. The combination of peat moss and soil also ensures that the soil has sufficient moisture and facilitates oxygen supply to the roots. It also prevents the roots of the Maranta from rotting.

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Other Growing Conditions and Care for the Maranta

1. Sunlight

Payer plants grow in the jungle at ground level in warm, humid, and shady conditions. The plant’s natural habitat gives you a crucial clue regarding the sunlight conditions supporting its growth.

The Maranta plant thrives in bright areas shielded from direct sunlight. It’s also perfect to put your plant in selected lit spots receiving bright sunlight. The plant can’t withstand exposure to direct sunlight as the strong sun rays burn the leaves, leaving permanent burnt marks because it drains water fast.

2. Fertilizer

We’ve already discovered that the Maranta needs a lot of water because it grows quickly and has long vines. Plants that grow fast like Maranta require some fertilizer in their growing season.

The prayer plant’s growth period is spring and summer before slowing down during fall and winter. However, the plant doesn’t stop growing even during winter. You can enhance the growth rate by applying fertilizer at least once every month during summer and spring. You have several options for fertilizing your Maranta, but liquid fertilizer is the most effective method. Liquid fertilizer goes in handy with your routine of watering the plant weekly.

man holding soil
Photo Credit By: jokevanderleij8, Pixabay

3. Pest Control

Just like most houseplants, your Maranta may be vulnerable to pests such as mites, spiders, aphids, and mealybugs. Ensure that you inspect your prayer plant thoroughly before placing it indoors, especially newly bought plants. You can use mild insecticides to get rid of any pests.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Propagate My Prayer Plant?

It’s easy to propagate Maranta like the most trailing plant because it starts growing roots by itself. One approach to propagating the plant involves cutting off a part of the stem before propagating it in a water jar. The plant grows longer roots within weeks, allowing you to transfer it into the potting soil. Propagating is a DIY process that saves you the costs of purchasing more potted prayer plants.

Can I Repot My Maranta Plant?

Yes, it’s important to repot your prayer plant when the roots outgrow the current pot. It happens when you realize that the plant has stopped blooming or growing. Ensure that you use a slightly bigger pot than the current one and supply the plant water with the optimal conditions.

Follow this simple repotting procedure:
  • Get a bigger pot
  • Add potting soil to the pot
  • Remove the potted plant from the old pot gently
  • Place it in the new pot before filling it with more soil
  • Press the foil softly to eliminate air pockets as you add more soil
  • Water the plant thoroughly, and the process is complete.

Remember to water it at least once a week and add fertilizer to nourish it to continue growing.

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Learning to water your prayer plants and deal with other problems is integral to keeping them healthy. This guide has examined several aspects of caring for the prayer plant for a more rewarding experience. We have given the frequency of watering to ensure you don’t overwater or underwater the plant.

Additionally, we have seen the ideal growing conditions and care for the plant such as adding fertilizer and growing in bright indirect sunlight to prevent the leaves from burning. After reading it, we hope you’ll find it easy to tend your prayer plant.

Featured Image Credit: rigsbyphoto, Shutterstock


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