Prayer Flower Care Guide

Houseplants that are easy to care for can look boring to those who prefer unusual shapes and fun colours, as they are almost all green and more or less alike to the untrained eye; but the Tricolour Marantha or Prayer Flower is here to overturn all these prejudices: it combines two shades of green with pink lines on each leaf, while the stems and undersides share a lovely shade of magenta. As if that weren't enough, it moves every night, closing itself, as if it were praying.

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If you've already fallen head over heels in love with the look of this pretty plant and want to add it to your collection, it's important that you learn everything you need to know so that you can give it a decent home, one that guarantees its survival and offers it everything it needs to grow to its full potential. Don't worry, this Prayer Flower care guide outlines everything you need to know to become a responsible parent.

Interesting Prayer Flower facts

  • Its scientific name is Maranta Leuconeura or Maranta Tricolor. It honours an Italian physicist and botanist named Bartolomeo Maranta who lived in the 16th century and who classified these plants.
  • The Prayer Flower is a second cousin of the Calatheas, other beautifully coloured and beautiful houseplants.
  • It is native to the rainforests of Brazil, so keep this in mind when looking for a place to put it.
  • You can put it in a hanging pot, as the shape of its leaves and stems allows you to create quite interesting ornamental compositions. If you want to leave it on the ground or on a table, you will need a stake to make it grow upwards. The advantage is that you can give it any shape and height you want.
  • The prayer flower closes its leaves at night. This behaviour is called Nictinastia and occurs as a response to the absence of light. The purpose of this is to prevent heat loss during the cooler hours, it conserves moisture, prevents raindrops or dew from falling on the leaves, preventing bacterial growth, and forces them to run down to the roots.
  • In some countries, these plants are used to decorate places where people who have died are honoured, as they symbolise prayers for their souls.
  • This plant is not only beautiful and lovely, but it is also non-toxic to your pets. You can keep it freely, even if your furry friend thinks it's a good idea to chew on it from time to time.
  • There are many varieties of this plant, so you shouldn't be surprised to find very similar plants with other colours, spots and patterns, including one called the Black Prayer Plant, perfect for those with darker tastes. Collecting them all can be a nice project.

Care of the Maranta tricolor

Temperature

The maranta is a tropical being, it comes from warm and humid spaces, so it should live in places where it can get a temperature between 18 to 30°C. Frosts are very bad for it, so make sure that the temperature in its new home never drops below 15°C because it could die. Again, pay attention to the leaves. If the temperature is too cold, the leaves will shrink and turn brown, but if it is in a very warm place then they will turn dark brown, as they will burn.

Humidity

In its natural habitat, the Prayer Flower is close to the ground, surrounded by vegetation. This creates a humid environment, perfect for its leaves to stay shiny and soft. We need to replicate this level of humidity at home and we have a few options. The first is to group it with other plants, this has two advantages: it is simple and it brings happiness to the plants and to you. We all know that the more greenery you have in your life the better; plants have been proven to positively influence your mood.

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Another way to maintain humidity is to spray it with a sprinkler, especially in the summer months as the heat evaporates moisture faster. If you do this, be careful not to spray succulents and not to do it in full sun, as it can damage the leaves. Another trick is to place saucers with water on the radiator in winter or place the pot on a tray with pebbles and water, so that it does not touch the roots.

Lighting

The Prayer Flower requires a lot of light, but never direct light. Its species was born sheltered by the canopy of the tallest trees, so it is not used to feeling the direct kiss of the sun's rays. Place it in a shady but well-lit spot where it will not receive direct sunlight as it can burn its leaves. If you notice that your Marantha does not open its leaves fully during the day, it is lacking light.

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Watering

Marantas tricolor require abundant and generous watering, especially in spring and summer. Please note that abundant watering never means waterlogging the substrate, but keeping it at the correct moisture levels. While you get the hang of it, my recommendation is to always touch the substrate: put your fingers in it. It should feel moist, if it sticks to your fingers there is no need to water. If it feels a bit drier and looser, it needs water.

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In winter it will need less water, still pay attention to the leaves; if they have yellow spots, are curly and drooping, it is lacking water. If the stems are yellowish and drooping, as if forcing, it has too much.

Substrate

The prayer flower is not very picky about the substrate, so a universal one that retains some water and drains well will suffice. Remember to put some pebbles in the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage. It doesn't need much fertiliser either, so you can use a balanced fertiliser every two weeks during spring and summer, which are the growing seasons.

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The pot can be wider than it is tall, as maranta roots do not require too much space. You can transplant in spring if you want to give it room to grow, but don't overdo it with the size because if it is too big, it can accumulate too much moisture and rot the roots.

About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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