How To Grow Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura) In Your Garden

Named after Bartolomeo Maranta, a renowned 16th-century Italian botanist and physician, the Maranta genus hosts several low-growing variants native to Brazil. Among these, the 'Prayer Plant,' or Maranta leuconeura, stands out.

This species owes its common name to its flat leaves' peculiar behavior of folding upwards, reminiscent of praying hands, during cooler nighttime conditions.

Maranta leuconeura in a pot
Maranta leuconeura 'Kerchoveana' photograph by Maja Dumat; CC.

With its decorative foliage, the Prayer Plant distinguishes itself from other tropical varieties, adding an artistic touch to any room.

Among the species of the Prayer Plant, the tricolor variant is most sought after.

It exhibits deep green, velvety leaves highlighted with yellow down the midribs, and dramatic red veins reaching to the leaf margins. The tricolor is a slow-growing variety that can reach up to a foot in height when nurtured indoors.

Despite being a common houseplant that flourishes indoors year-round, Maranta Leuconeura can become a bit leggy and unruly over time, posing a challenge for long-term indoor keeping.

How to Grow Maranta Leuconeura

Prayer Plant leaf close up
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura 'lecconeure') image by Drew Avery; CC.

Prayer plants, being low-growing, spread out elegantly when given conditions reminiscent of a greenhouse environment.

They favor warm, moist climates and appreciate plenty of air circulation around their foliage. Moreover, they are insatiable feeders requiring regular fertilization throughout the year.

Mindful Watering and Sunlight Exposure

One must be cautious about planting Prayer plants in poorly draining soils, as this may lead to root rot.

Overexposure to sunlight, particularly direct midday sun, can cause the plant's vibrant colors to fade. This often leads to unsightly brown blotches on the foliage.

Place your Prayer plants near windows where they can bask in indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight exposure to prevent scorching the leaves. Given their preference for low light conditions, these plants are ideally suited for indoor cultivation.

Winter Care and Soil Preference

During winter, these plants may enter a dormancy phase or even die back entirely. However, providing them with adequate light during this season can prevent dormancy. Prayer plants are generally tolerant of most soil types, provided they drain well.

A standard potting mix promotes growth efficiently. In the growing season, it's crucial to water the Prayer Plant frequently — whenever the soil feels dry. Be careful not to let the soil dry out completely. Prayer plants are not drought-tolerant and will wilt if left without water for prolonged periods.

Avoid watering the leaves to prevent fungal issues. Instead, water around the base of the plant. Both under-watering and over-watering can cause the leaves to yellow and drop.

To keep your Prayer Plant nourished, fertilize every other week from early spring through fall, and then reduce it to once a month during winter.

In essence, Maranta leuconeura, with its unique aesthetics and intriguing characteristics, makes a beautiful addition to your indoor garden, offering a delightful display of nature's artistry.

As long as you follow the right care guidelines, your Prayer Plant can become a long-term, leafy companion.

Close up of  a Prayer Plant flower
Prayer Plant flower image by Andrey Zharkikh; CC.

Growing Maranta Leuconeura as a Beautiful Houseplant

The Prayer plant, is a stunning houseplant that adds natural beauty to any indoor space. To grow it successfully, choose a location with indirect light, avoiding direct sunlight and drafts. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, watering when the top inch feels dry.

Increase humidity by misting the leaves or using a humidifier. Maintain temperatures between 60°F and 80°F (15°C to 27°C) and provide good air circulation.

Fertilize monthly during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength. Prune occasionally and propagate through division. Enjoy the beauty of Maranta leuconeura in your home!

Quick Maranta leuconeura Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Maranta leuconeura

Common Name(s): Prayer Plant, Maranta Prayer Plant

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 11-12 RHS Hardiness Rating: H1C (above 5°C)

Best Used For / Garden Location: Ideal for indoor plants, tropical gardens, or greenhouse plants.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Evergreen perennial

Plant Height: 1-1.5 feet (30-45 centimeters)

Plant Spread: 1-1.5 feet (30-45 centimeters)

Blooms: Spring

Flower Details: Small, white flowers

Leaf Foliage: Dark green, ovate leaves with light green or white veins

Fruit: N/A

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Indirect light to partial shade

Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained, fertile soil

Sowing / planting: Plant young plants in spring or fall.

Germination time: N/A, propagated from cuttings or divisions.

Propagation: By division in spring or by cuttings.

Plant Care: Keep soil consistently moist. Avoid drafts and dry air.

Growing in pots and containers: Ideal for pots and containers with good drainage.

Growing as a House plant: Excellent as a houseplant. Provide humidity, indirect light, and consistent watering.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Named "Prayer Plant" because the leaves fold up at night. Non-toxic to cats and dogs.

Pests and diseases: Watch for spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: Maranta leuconeura 'Erythroneura' (Red Prayer Plant) and 'Kerchoveana' (Green Prayer Plant) are two popular cultivars.

Family: Marantaceae, the Arrowroot family.

Native: Tropical Central and South America.

References and Further Reading: Cornell University Housplant Guide (PDF); Texas A&M: Maranta leuconeura var erythroneura; University of Florida IFAS Extension – Prayer Plant PDF

Common Questions

Does Maranta Leuconeura make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Maranta Leuconeura makes a great indoor or shade garden plant due to its striking leaf patterns, and unique movement that follows the sunlight during the day.

Is Maranta Leuconeura a fragrant plant?

Maranta Leuconeura is not typically known for having a strong fragrance. Its appeal lies more in its stunning leaf patterns and movements.

What is the perfect location to grow Prayer Plant?

Prayer Plant prefers a warm, humid location with indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can fade its vibrant leaf colors. It's typically grown as an indoor plant in most places, due to its tropical origins.

Is Maranta Leuconeura invasive in the USA?

Maranta Leuconeura is not considered invasive in the USA. It's generally grown as an indoor plant and does not spread aggressively.

How do I remove Maranta Leuconeura from my garden?

To remove Maranta Leuconeura, dig up the plant, ensuring you remove all of its roots to prevent regrowth. Dispose of the plant material in a way that it can't reestablish in your garden.


Prayer Plant is apopular indoor plant with beautifully patterned leaves that fold at night. Plant in well-draining soil in indirect light. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide high humidity.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Maranta leuconeura. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Jade Plant, Weeping Fig, and Sensitive plants in the garden.

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