Pruning Prayer Plant

Prayer plants are well-loved for their gorgeous foliage and striking leaf patterns. The goal of probably every plant parent is to grow lush, vibrant greenery that will be the envy of others. Pruning your prayer plant is a great way to achieve that thick, bushy look.

Pruning your prayer plant may seem daunting, but if done correctly, it is a great tactic for encouraging more growth. Snip above a node, and you trigger a new growth point in your plant. Snip below a node, and you’re holding the beginnings of a new plant in your hand.

This article will dive into how prayer plants earned their unique nickname and how pruning can help make your plant look its best. I will also discuss some other benefits of pruning, and then I’ll offer tips on how to care for your prayer plant. Let’s get started!

What Are Prayer Plants?

Prayer plants are quirky houseplants that hail from the tropics. They are known for their stunning leaves and venation. They derive their moniker from their unique behavior toward the light — they spread their leaves toward the light source during the daytime and fold them in at night as if praying.

Prayer plants have always been unfairly accused of being divas in the plant world. People say they throw tantrums at the slightest changes in their living conditions. Although some of the rumors may be true, prayer plants are actually easy to care for as long as you provide them with an ideal environment for growth.

They don’t ask for much to be happy. They can survive in low to moderate light but, like most plants, will thrive in bright light. Protect them from direct sunlight, though, since this could burn their leaves. Prayer plants like moist soil but hate when their potting mix is soggy. Never let them dry out completely.

Benefits of Pruning Your Prayer Plant

Another way to ensure that your prayer plant is thriving and happy is to prune it. Prayer plants are generally slow growers, and pruning them is a great way to encourage faster growth. It may seem odd, but if you trim your prayer plant correctly, you will stimulate new growth from the area you’ve pruned.

Here are some other benefits that come with pruning your prayer plant:

Propagation Opportunity

Don’t just throw away those cuttings! Consider pruning sessions as opportunities for propagation. Use those cuttings to make your prayer plant lusher by planting them back in the same pot after they’ve developed roots. You can also use the cuttings to make new plants and give them as gifts to friends and family.

This is how to harvest cuttings from your prayer plant:

Materials needed:

  • Sterilized sharp scissors
  • 1 glass jar
  • Clear plastic bag
  • Sticky tape
  • Fresh water (preferably filtered or distilled)

How to propagate by stem cuttings:

  1. Look for healthy stems in your prayer plant that are leggier or bushier than others. These may often give your plant a lopsided look and are great options for propagation.
  2. Cut below a node in a stem. The node is a small bump in the stem from where new growth will emerge. Cut about an inch below the node.
  3. Collect as many stem cuttings as you need. Harvesting at least 3 stem cuttings is best because the odds of successful propagation are 50-50.
  4. Fill the glass jar with clean, room-temperature water. If you only have tap water, let it sit exposed in the pot for at least 24 hours to allow harmful chemicals and minerals to evaporate.
  5. Place your stem cutting inside the jar. Ensure no leaves are touching the water and the nodes are submerged.
  6. Cover the cuttings with a clear plastic bag. Blow some air into it so the leaves don’t touch the bag, and seal it around the jar using sticky tape. This boosts humidity inside the bag, which is optimal for growth.
  7. Place your cuttings in a well-lit area. Ensure that they won’t be exposed to harsh, direct light.
  8. Change the water every 2 days or so. Keep the water clean and clear at all times.
  9. Wait for roots to start sprouting. It will usually take a week or so before you can see signs of growth.
  10. Move your rooted cuttings into a pot with fast-draining soil or back into the original pot once the roots are about 2 inches (5.04 cm) long. This will typically take at least a month.

Eliminates Legginess

Plant parents love plants that are healthy and lush. If the leaves of your prayer plant are few and far between, it might indicate that pruning is necessary. Legginess has always been an issue since this makes a plant look sparse and unwell.

Legginess usually indicates a lack of light. Prayer plants stretch out their stems to search for a more substantial light source. In doing so, they stretch their internodes — the spaces between the nodes in the stem. This makes them look unhealthy and thin.

You can eliminate legginess from your prayer plant through pruning. Cut off those unsightly long internodes using sterilized, sharp gardening shears. Make sure to cut right above a node to trigger the plant to push out new growth.

Within a few weeks, you will notice the beginnings of fresh leaves pushing out from these activated nodes, and you can look forward to a lusher, healthier-looking prayer plant within a few months.

Care Tips for Prayer Plants

Prayer plants may be known as the divas of the plant world, but once you figure out what makes them happy, caring for them can be a breeze. It’s all a matter of being consistent and sensitive to the subtle signs they send. Your prayer plant will reward you with lush growth and gorgeous foliage.

Here are some tips on caring for your prayer plant:

Adequate Fertilization

Prayer plants do not need too much fertilizer. Frequent and intense fertilization may cause their leaves and roots to burn. Feed your prayer plant with a diluted liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season.

You can also turn to good ol’ Osmocote for help. Just sprinkle a handful into the potting mix, and the nutrients will suffice for about a month.

High Humidity

Prayer plants thrive in high humidity. After all, tropical forests are their original habitats where there are frequent rain showers. Plant lovers in dry areas like Arizona and Nevada need not fret. There are things you can do to help your prayer plant enjoy living in your home.

To mimic the high-moisture environment they prefer, consider any of these tactics:

  • Daily misting. Lightly mist your prayer plant with fresh, room-temperature water daily. Do this in the mornings so the water has enough time to evaporate.
  • Plant grouping. Place your prayer plant amid other humidity-loving plants. This effectively boosts humidity in the area.
  • Pebble tray. Place your prayer plant atop a tray filled with clean water and pebbles. Make sure the pebbles’ tops are dry so your plant isn’t sitting in water.
  • Water bowl. Place a bowl of water near your prayer plant. The water evaporating from the bowl will help boost the area’s humidity.

Proper Light

Your prayer plant can survive in an area that gets moderate light. However, if you want its colors and leaf patterns to become more vibrant, let it bask in bright light. You have to ensure that intense direct sunlight doesn’t touch its leaves because they easily burn.

If you’re in a relatively warm area all year, like in sunny California, you may bring your prayer plant indoors. It can thrive in low to moderate ambient light. Make a mental note to let it sit outdoors in bright, indirect sunlight at least once a week to get a regular dose of sunshine.

Airy and Moist Potting Mix

Prayer plants prefer moist soil. Never let your prayer plant’s potting mix go dry. Since regular watering is required, opt for an airy potting mix, preferably with elements with moisture retention properties, such as perlite, coco peat, and orchid bark.

Prayer plants don’t like sitting in soggy soil. Make sure water drains out of the pot’s drainage holes every time you water. It would also help to poke through the soil every now and then with a clean barbecue stick to create air pockets and promote better ventilation. Take care not to damage the roots, though.

Pest Control

Prayer plants are prone to mealybug, aphid, and spider mite infestations. These pests like to hide under the leaves or in the little nooks and crannies along the stem. Check your prayer plant regularly and eliminate pests as soon as you spot them.

A good option would be an organic pesticide like neem oil. Remember to spray neem oil solution in the late afternoons because exposure to light may cause leaf burn.

Fungal Infection

Too much water on the leaves and soil may lead to fungal infections. This is why you should mist in the mornings so that water won’t sit on your prayer plant’s leaves for too long. Give your plant a good drink only when the soil is halfway dry, and make sure that the soil has good drainage so it never stays soggy.

If your prayer plant acquires a fungal infection, you will notice spots on its leaves. If untreated, the leaves will soon fall off, and the plant may eventually die. Rescue your prayer plant from fungal infection with regular spraying of fungicides, such as neem oil, baking soda solution, and horticultural soap solution.

Signs That Your Prayer Plant Is Unhappy

Your prayer plant won’t hesitate to let you know it is unhappy. Take this as a positive trait since it will give you time to react and properly address the problem. Prayer plants are hardy, and given the proper care and attention, they can quickly bounce back.

Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Dry leaf tips. If your prayer plant’s leaf tips are brown, it’s a sign that it needs higher humidity.
  • Discolored leaves. Your prayer plant’s leaves will turn yellow before finally turning brown when you let the soil dry out too much.
  • Curled leaves. This is your prayer plant’s way of telling you that it’s getting too much light.
  • Leaf spots. If leaves have suddenly developed spots and regularly fall off your prayer plant, it may signify an ongoing fungal infection.

Rose Painted Prayer Plant - Calathea roseopicta - Easy House Plant - 4" Pot

Final Thoughts

Do not be intimidated by the prayer plants’ reputation of fussiness. The key is being sensitive to their needs. Be keen on reacting promptly to the subtle signs they show and provide them with the ideal conditions for growth. Pruning your prayer plant is a great way to make it lusher, more vibrant, and even more beautiful.

Snip off the stems properly so that nothing goes to waste — some cuttings can be used for planting back in the pot to create a bushier look, while others can even be used to start a whole new plant.

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