Monday, September 10, 2012

Prayer Plant

Prayer plant  'Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana'

praying at night

The prayer plant is botanically known as a Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana. This soft and flowing plant would be quite happy to live with you for many years. Just don't get fooled. They do, from time to time, appear as if they are dying! This happens in the winter and it just means that they are taking a rest. It will be born again anew. Before spring, you should start to see new growth sprouting up from the soil line. Then you can remove the old leaf clusters.  If you would like to, it is a good time to divide the plant into two plants and pass on the new plant to someone that would appreciate it.

When the darkness of night comes its leaves fold up like hands in prayer, for you. That is how it got its name. It is a wonder! It will even bloom occasionally with small white flowers, striped purple in a raceme. A raceme is the prayer plant's flower stem and it does look a bit different from most other flower stems. 

Someone gave this plant to me many years ago when it was not doing well and they just did not want it anymore.  It recovered quickly and has graced my dining room ever since. This old perennial favorite had been available on the market for many, many years. Its handsome leaves and graceful flow are a lively addition to any home. This Brazilian native is an easy plant to keep.

Care Instructions---
  • Bright indirect light or some direct sun. Full afternoon sun is too much. Full morning sun or some late afternoon would be great.
  • Water thoroughly when the top of the soil is quite dry. A plant in an 8"(20 cm) diameter pot will use about 1 quart of water when necessary.
  • A prayer plant in a 6" (10 com) diameter pot will use about 1 pint or almost 1/2 liter of water, when necessary
  • It's best to water plants by checking the dryness of the soil rather than by a set time such as once a week.
  • They do appreciate some humidity so you may want to mist them daily with water although they adapt well to most home environments.
  •  Fertilize regularly except when it is in resting mode.  
**See some short clips from my 90's TV series on YouTube:



  1. Can you show me a picture of the prayer plant when its leaves are folded up at night?
    Thank you!

    1. Good idea! Photography needs light so I had to be quick. Here are two examples.