Prayer plants naturally grow in the tropical forests of Brazil, making them accustomed to high amounts of rainfall and high humidity throughout the year. Growing them in a region with a different climate requires extra care to ensure they grow optimally. One important thing to pay attention to is their water requirements.
Prayer plants need thorough watering once a week. However, if they are grown in hot and dry conditions, you may need to water them more frequently. The soil must be constantly moist, and the room’s humidity must be at least 50%.
Many plants have specific water requirements, and they grow best when these needs are met. This article will discuss the watering needs of prayer plants and the things you need to consider to observe good watering practices.
Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) need enough water to keep the soil evenly damp or moist.
They prefer a warm and humid location, allowing them to be grown outdoors only in USDA Zone 11, which includes Florida. In USDA zones 10 or lower, you can successfully grow your prayer plants indoors in a controlled environment.
The best way to ensure that your plant is getting sufficient moisture is by following the steps below:
- Pour enough water until it drains out of the drainage holes, and a small pool builds up on the soil’s surface layer.
- Allow the water to drain out for 30 minutes to an hour before placing the pot back in its usual spot.
- Repeat the same process every time you water your prayer plant to keep it properly hydrated.
Under suitable conditions, doing this once a week should be enough to keep your prayer plants healthy. During the cold season, you need to make adjustments to your indoor conditions and watering routine to keep your tropical plants in top shape.
Prayer plants are relatively easy to grow, with the only real challenge being their water requirements. However, like with most plants, it’ll become easier once you’ve established a watering routine.
Here are some things you need to consider to ensure your prayer plants are well-watered:
- The soil quality
- The temperature
- The humidity
- The season
These factors can vary significantly from one plant parent to another. This guide will offer comprehensive information to help you evaluate how to adjust your plant’s growing conditions. Let’s discuss them in more detail below:
A good rule of thumb when growing prayer plants is to prepare a substrate that establishes a balance between drainage and water retention. It’s important to remember that as the plant gets bigger over time, these soil traits can change, requiring you to change your watering routine.
Finding the right proportion of materials can also be challenging, so you may need to add soil amendments based on the composition readily available in your garden or your gardening supplies store.
Prayer plants like deep watering, so it’s necessary for the substrate to drain the excess moisture as much as possible. As such, your prayer plant may benefit from a soil composition with equal parts of sand and loam. However, you can use other soil components, such as compost and perlite.
Since prayer plants love steadily moist soil, water retention is one of the most important soil qualities to consider. Clay has an excellent water-holding capacity, but it has very poor drainage. If your garden soil is predominantly clay, it may be best to purchase a potting mix rather than trying to amend the soil.
Maranta species prefer acidic soil with pH levels between 5.5 and 6.0. States like Oregon and North Carolina typically have acidic soil, making it easier to find a suitable substrate for growing your prayer plant.
If you live in a region with alkaline soil, you must amend your soil to help your prayer plant grow optimally.
Although you can find readily available potting mixes for Maranta species and other tropical plants, you may want to create your own mix that addresses all of your prayer plant’s needs. Here are the best components for a DIY Maranta potting mix:
- Peat moss can acidify the soil and improve water retention. You can find peat moss in many gardening supplies stores because it is a common component for potting mixes. Check the packaging to confirm if the material is acidic. Some stores sell only slightly acidic peat moss that cannot significantly lower the soil pH.
- Aim for peat moss with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Note that you can raise this to suitable levels with the other components.
- Compost can improve drainage and add essential nutrients to the plant. It also typically has a neutral pH, so it can slightly raise the pH in case your peat moss is too acidic for the prayer plant.
- Perlite is breathable and has excellent water-holding capacity. It holds approximately three times as much water as it weighs, improving your substrate’s overall water retention and soil drainage.
- Loam soil is naturally the best-growing medium for prayer plants. It has good water retention and is breathable but can become too compact over time due to regular watering.
- Sand can improve the substrate’s drainage. Although perlite can also perform the same function and can add weight to the substrate as the wind may easily blow away perlite particles.
Each component should comprise 20% of your potting mix, and you’re good to go. You can inspect your soil quality every six months and make necessary amendments for the following reasons:
- Compost loses its nutrients as the plants grow and consume them.
- The soil pH may eventually neutralize due to regular watering.
You can also re-pot your prayer plant every one to two years.
Prayer plants prefer to grow in partial shade with temperatures between 65 and 70°F (18.3-21.1°C). The low light and moderate temperature requirements can affect how often you must water your prayer-plants because they allow the soil to dry more slowly.
When growing them outdoors, be sure to keep them in partially shaded areas, such as next to the wall of your house, where they can receive shade from the roof’s eaves.
Be careful about growing the plant underneath a tree in your garden. Although the tree can provide shade and lower temperatures, it can also compete with your prayer plant for soil moisture.
Therefore, it’s best to grow prayer plants in pots where they can get sufficient moisture without competition and be easily relocated depending on the changes in environmental conditions.
Prayer plants naturally thrive in tropical rainforests with high humidity. You can replicate such conditions at home by ensuring the humidity doesn’t drop below 50%.
Here are some ways to improve the humidity for your prayer-plants:
- Switch on a humidifier during extremely dry months.
- Place your pot on a tray of wet pebbles.
- Mist your plant at least once a day.
As long as you maintain the ideal humidity levels for your prayer plants, watering them deeply once a week should be enough.
When outside temperatures drop below 55 °F (12.8 °C), it can be detrimental for prayer plants. On the other hand, temperatures over 80 °F (26.7 °C) can also be harmful to any Maranta species.
When seasonal temperatures become unsuitable for your prayer plants, it is best to move them indoors, where it’ll be easier to maintain optimum temperatures. Remember that you may need to water your plant more frequently in summer and less frequently in winter.
You must maintain a balance between temperature and humidity when keeping your plant indoors. Note that prayer plants are evergreen and need suitable conditions all year round.
Luckily, the low light, temperature, and humidity requirements of Maranta plants are also suitable for human living. The humidity level doesn’t have to be too high to cause mold problems at home. Moreover, prayer plants can improve the air quality in your house.
Low light, moderate temperatures, and high humidity altogether slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil. If the drainage of your prayer plant’s substrate diminishes over time without appropriate adjustments in the watering routine, it can be easy to overwater your plant.
Overwatering a prayer plant can cause several issues, including the following:
- Root rot. Most plants don’t like having wet feet. Although prayer plants love moist soil, they’re not exactly flood-tolerant. Too much moisture in the soil can make the roots susceptible to fungal infections.
- Leaf spots. Prayer plants can benefit a lot from daily misting, but it can be dangerous to let the water droplets sit on the leaves for too long. Such a situation will provide airborne fungi an opportunity to thrive on moist surfaces on the leaves and cause leaf spots.
Underwatering a prayer plant will result in dry leaves and stunted growth. Prayer plants need moisture to keep the leaves perky and resistant to diseases. Water is also necessary for the plant to absorb essential nutrients from the soil. When left underwater for a long time, your plant will eventually die.
Prayer plants can do well when watered once a week under ideal conditions of at least 50% humidity and environmental temperatures between 65 and 70°F (18.3-21.1°C). It is also best to ensure that your soil has good drainage and excellent water retention. Adjust your watering routine accordingly depending on the season and any changes in your soil’s qualities.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.