dead prayer plant

Are Prayer Plants Hard to Care For?

I have a love-hate relationship with Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura). On the one hand, they are a lot of fun to have because the leaves will curl upwards in the dark and when you turn on the lights, the leaves will come back down to a flat position. However, Prayer plants are finicky plants and they are not easy to take care of. 

Prayer Plants are Not For Beginners

If you are new to gardening, I suggest staying away from prayer plants. Prayer plants are high-maintenance plants. You need to tend to it and you can’t just leave it alone. I gave a prayer plant to my teenage daughter and it died 5 months later! Look at the sad photo of the prayer plant!

dead prayer plant
My daughter’s dead prayer plant

Prayer Plants Need Constant Humidity

The reason why it’s not easy to take care of prayer plants is that it is a tropical plant that needs constant humidity. You can’t neglect it. You have to constantly check on your prayer plant to see if it needs to be watered. The best way to tell if it’s time to water your prayer plant is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil an inch deep, if the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water it. You should check your prayer plant every few days to see if it needs to be watered. 

Feel the soil of your prayer plant
Feel the soil of your prayer plant

However, there is a fine line between constant humidity and overwatering. You can kill your prayer plant if you overwater it. The best way to know when to water your prayer plant is to feel the soil, if it’s dry, you can water it. If the soil feels moist, don’t water your prayer plant. Wait a day or two. Make sure you feel the soil before watering your prayer plant. 

Prayer Plants are Tricky to Care for During Winter

It is especially hard to get the humidity level right in the winter. The dry indoor air during the winter months can kill your prayer plant. In fact, that’s exactly what killed my daughter’s prayer plant! It was thriving and healthy when she had it in the summer but when winter came around, she did not increase watering frequency to compensate for the dry winter air.

How to Care for Prayer Plants in the Winter

You need to be extra vigilant when it comes to taking care of your prayer plant in the winter. You need to constantly feel the soil, if it’s dry you need to water it. You can also increase indoor humidity by turning on a humidifier. Mist your prayer plant frequently to increase humidity.

It’s also a good idea to move your prayer plant to your bathroom to increase humidity. However, only move your prayer plant if there is a window in your bathroom. You want to make sure your prayer plant gets enough sunlight.

Tips for Taking Care of Prayer Plants

Prayer plants are rewarding plants to care for if it’s happy and healthy. Remember, like all plants, there are 3 main things that it needs to thrive. You need to give it enough sunlight, you need to give it sufficient moisture and you need to make sure it is planted in a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. 

Prayer Plant Sunlight Requirement

Prayer plants can tolerate low light. You can place it in front of a north facing window and it will do well. Ideally, if you have an east facing window, that’s a good spot for your prayer plant. Although, know that sunlight is just one requirement for your prayer plant to thrive. My daughter’s prayer plant was in an east facing window and it still died, it’s because she did not provide it with sufficient humidity.

Prayer Plant Humidity and Moisture Requirement

Getting the humidity right is the trickiest part of taking care of prayer plants. It’s especially hard if you live in a place where the indoor air gets dry. I live in Connecticut, and it’s dry in the winter here. It’s challenging to get the humidity high enough for prayer plants to thrive. Remember, your prayer plant is a tropical plant! It’s happiest in a humid, warm environment which is the opposite of what my home feels like in the winter months! That’s why keeping it in your bathroom is a good idea in the winter. 

Prayer Plant
Prayer Plant

I think what makes it hard for most beginners when taking care of prayer plants is that they don’t adjust to the seasons. In the summer, you can get away with a once a week watering schedule but in the winter, when the air becomes dry, you need to increase your watering frequency. I can’t tell you how frequently to water your prayer plant because you need to adjust to your environment. The best way to tell if it’s time to water your prayer plant is to feel the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water your prayer plant. 

Prayer Plant Soil Requirement

Prayer plants should be planted in a well-draining, organic potting mix. It’s also a good idea to repot your prayer plant every year in the Spring. Repotting in fresh soil will give new life to your prayer plant. 

Taking care of your prayer plant is rewarding. It’s a lot of fun to have a prayer plant at home because it’s an interactive plant- almost like a little pet because its leaves curl up and down. Have fun with your prayer plant! Remember, your prayer plant is a humid-loving plant. Feel the soil, if it’s dry, water it!