Home Plant guides How to care for a Maranta Leuconora (Prayer plant)

Maranta Prayer plant with flower

How to care for a Maranta Leuconora (Prayer plant)

The Maranta Leuconora, also known as the Prayer plant looks a lot like a Calathea, but isn't actually a Calathea. Calathea's are notoriously difficult plants to take care of, but the Maranta Prayer Plant on the other hand is quite easy to care for. The Maranta gets it's nickname, prayer plant, from the fact that it closes it leaves during the night.

The Maranta is a great alternative for a Calathea when you think a Calathea is too tough to take care of (we've all been there). It's not a very demanding plant and is great for those of you who like to water their plants every week. It's not the best houseplant for beginners, because it doesn't really show you what it needs through clear signs. It's not a difficult plant to take care of, but it does require a little experience.

In this plant care guide, we're going to explore these topics:

Let's dive right in and find out how to take care of this beautiful tropical plant!

Watering your Maranta

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The Maranta Leuconora is quite a thirsty plant and loves to be in moist soil. It's a thirsty plant, because it's a trailing plant, much like a Philodendron and a Pothos. Your Maranta can grow longer vines with beautiful leaves. These vines mean that the roots of your Maranta have to work hard if the vines are long. There is a lot of plant to water after all.

When you have a thirsty plant, like the Maranta, you should water it once per week. It's true the Maranta loves to be in moist soil and that the soil might dry out before the week is over. No matter how tempting it might be to water your plant before that time, it's better to wait until the week is over. By letting the soil (almost) dry out, you avoid accidentally overwatering your plant. Another benefit of letting the soil (almost) dry out is that oxygen can more easily reach the roots of your Prayer plant. If you notice that the soil dries out after a day or two, you might have to consider changing the soil. More about this later.

You should water your Maranta about once per week and allow the soil to dry out for one or two days. By letting the soil (almost) dry out, you give the plant its needed moisture, but you also avoid overwatering your plant. The dry soil helps to get oxygen to the Maranta's roots more easily, which helps to prevent root rot.

Sunlight exposure

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New leaf on a Maranta Prayer plant

A Maranta Leuconora grows in the jungle at ground level, where it's humid, warm, and shaded. Its natural habitat gives us a clue as to what kind of sunlight exposure this plant thrives in. Like its cousin, the Calathea, the Maranta does best in bright indirect sunlight. You can also put this wonderful plant in a spot that has less bright light, but not low-light. The Prayer plant thrives in this bright indirect sunlight, but can't survive in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn its leaves and this is unfortunately a permanent burn mark.

Yellow leaves

If you notice that your Maranta's leaves are turning yellow, it could mean two things. It could be that your Maranta is getting too much sunlight and you should move it to a darker location. It could also mean that the leaf is just an older leaf and it's turning yellow because of its age.

Fertilizing your Maranta

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Earlier on, we've discovered that the Maranta is a thirsty plant, because it grows quite quickly and can have long vines. Quickly-growing plants like this need quite a bit of fertilizer during their growing season. The growing season of the Maranta is the entire spring and summer. During the fall and winter, your Prayer plant won't grow as much any more. However, it often won't stop growing all the way, it'll just go much more slowly.

You can help your Maranta grow properly by fertilizing it once per month during the spring and summer. There are many ways to fertilize your Prayer plant, but the easiest might be to use a liquid fertilizer. This is the easiest way to fertilize your Maranta, because it needs to be watered weekly any way.

If you want to find more ways to fertilize your plants, have a look at "What is the best type of fertilizer for houseplants?".

Soil for a Prayer plant

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The Maranta Prayer plant loves to be in moist soil, like we discovered earlier on in this plant care guide. Now that we know that, we can pick some ingredients to improve normal potting soil. When you water soil often, it tends to compact and thicken up. We need to avoid this, because this prevents oxygen to reach your plant's roots. However, we can't add things like perlite to your potting soil, because this would drain the moisture away too quickly.

So how can we make the perfect soil for this plant? Peat moss! Peat moss is dead and decayed Sphagnum moss and it's great at retaining moisture while keeping the soil light. This combination will make sure enough moisture stays in the soil, but your plant's roots also gets enough oxygen. It helps your plant stay moist, but also reduces the risk of getting root rot on your plant.

Toxicity

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If you have small children or pets, you're in luck: the Maranta Leuconora is non-toxic. Most tropical plants from the jungle are toxic, but luckily this plant is an exception. It might still be a good idea to keep your Maranta away from your pets, in case they like to chew on your plants.

If you pets chew on this plant, your plant will start to leak moisture from it's stems. Since your Maranta is a thirsty plant, this leaking won't stop very quickly and take a long time to heal. By putting your plant where your children and/or pets can't reach it, you're protecting your plant.

Propagating your Maranta

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Maranta prayer plant air roots

A lot of trailing plants are easy to propagate, because they start to grow air roots by themselves. The Maranta is no different. In the picture above, you can see new parts of stems come out of the old part of the stems.

When you want to propagate a Maranta, you can simply cut off part of the stem and propagate it in a jar with water. In a few short weeks, your Maranta cutting should have grown longer roots. Now you can pot it in some soil, or Leca, and you'll have successfully propagated the Prayer plant.

Brown leaves on your Prayer plant

At some point in your plant journey, you might see brown tips on your Maranta Prayer plant. This could be due to several reasons.

The first thing you should look at is your watering habits. If you never let the soil dry out, you might be overwatering your Maranta. If the soil of your Prayer plant dries out in 1 to 3 days, you might be underwatering your plant/

The second thing to check is the sunlight exposure. If your Maranta is getting too much (direct) sunlight, it will become too warm and dry out (burn marks). If you think your Maranta might be getting too much (direct) sunlight, move it to a slightly darker place.

A less common issue is that the environment for your plant might be too dry for your Maranta. Dry as in very low humidity. The Prayer plant is a tropical plant which needs quite a lot of humidity. If you're sure you're watering your Maranta properly and it's getting the right amount of sunlight, it might just need humidity. There are a few great ways to raise the humidity of your plant, which you can read more about at "10 ways to raise the humidity in your house".

Drooping leaves on your Maranta

Maranta prayer plant leaf

Drooping leaves on your Prayer plant could be one of two things: your plant is too dry, or its stems are heavy. If the soil is dry and your Prayer plant is drooping, water it and see your plant turn back to its normal self. If the stems on your Maranta are quite long, it could just be that the stem and leaves are too heavy to grow upwards.

If you look at pictures of a Maranta on the internet, you might notice how they're often growing upwards. Your own Maranta might grow horizontally, like mine. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact, this is natural. The Prayer plant is a trailing plant and has heavy stems and leaves. This weight means that you plant grows horizontally.

If you want it to grow upwards, you'll have to propagate your plant more often, to keep the stems from becoming too long. Just know there is nothing wrong with your plant and it naturally grows horizontally.

Conclusion

The Maranta Leuconora, also known as the Prayer plant, is a tropical plant that's closely related to a Calathea. Unlike the notoriously difficult Calathea, the Maranta is actually quite easy to take care of. It's important to water your Maranta every week, to make sure it's not in dry soil for more than a few days. Like it's natural habitat, you need to make sure that your Prayer plant is never exposed to direct sunlight. It needs bright indirect sunlight to thrive in your house. The Maranta is also perfect if you have pets and you're looking for a pet-friendly plant.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: pet-friendly

Posted on: Apr 17, 2021 Last updated on: May 2, 2021

Other common names for this plant

  • Maranta Leuconora
  • Prayer plant

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