Prayer plants are some of the most popular and iconic tropical houseplants. These plants are visually dramatic and active, especially when curling their leaves at night or unfurling them in the morning. But Maranta plants don’t just look great – in this article, we’ll explore 12 amazing uses and benefits of prayer plants backed by leading research studies.
- About Prayer Plants
- 12 Uses and Benefits of Prayer Plants
- 1. Prayer Plants Can Help Purify the Air
- 2. Prayer Plants Are Beautiful, Active Plants
- 3. Prayer Plants Are Compact Houseplants
- 4. Prayer Plants Can Tolerate a Range of Light Conditions
- 5. Prayer Plants Symbolize Gratitude
- 6. Prayer Plants May Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- 7. Prayer Plants Could Help Boost Productivity and Focus
- 8. Prayer Plants Could Help Improve Our Sleep
- 9. Prayer Plants Have Feng Shui Benefits
- 10. Prayer Plants Are Non-Toxic to Humans and Pets
- 11. Prayer Plants Can Act As Natural Soundproofing
- 12. Prayer Plants Can Help Increase Humidity
- Prayer Plant Benefits – Wrapping Up
About Prayer Plants
Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) belong to the Maranta genus, which is part of the arrowroot family (Marantaceae). The Maranta genus contains approximately 50 recognized species and is named after Bartolomeo Maranta, a 16th Century Italian botanist. Prayer plants are native to tropical rainforests in Brazil.
Prayer plants have oval-shaped green leaves decorated with colorful patterns or spots. These leaves fold together like hands in prayer at night before unfurling again in the morning. So it’s no surprise that this species became known as the prayer plant.
12 Uses and Benefits of Prayer Plants
1. Prayer Plants Can Help Purify the Air
Ever since NASA’s 1989 Clean Air Study, we’ve known that houseplants can help purify the air in our homes. And prayer plants are no exception. Like many houseplants, prayer plants can remove potentially harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air.
VOCs are produced by a range of household products, including cleaning products, carpets, adhesives, and paint. Common VOCs include benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene. These compounds can pose several health risks and may even increase the risk of developing cancer.
VOCs can also exacerbate allergies such as asthma, so prayer plants could also be good for your health.
2. Prayer Plants Are Beautiful, Active Plants
Prayer plants are highly prized for their gorgeous green oval-shaped leaves. Each leaf can grow up to 5 inches long and boasts vibrant patterns and spots.
Prayer plants are also very active and eagerly lean toward available light sources. Prayer plants are famous for their leaves, which fold up at night and resemble hands joined together in prayer. In the morning, these glorious leaves unfurl with a rustle to reveal dramatic patterns on the leaves.
3. Prayer Plants Are Compact Houseplants
Prayer plants are compact and manageable houseplants that won’t overwhelm your space. They typically grow up to approximately 12 inches tall and wide. This makes it easy to place a prayer plant in almost any room within your home.
However, prayer plants need the right conditions to grow at their best. Although a prayer plant might be pretty low-maintenance, it does require warm temperatures and moderate humidity. Provide temperatures ranging from 60 to 80ºF (15.5 to 26.5ºC) and humidity levels between 50 and 60%. Ensure you’re potting these plants in a well-draining soil mix for optimal care, and keep an eye out for common prayer plant pests and diseases.
4. Prayer Plants Can Tolerate a Range of Light Conditions
Prayer plants can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, making them adaptable enough for any room in your home. They do best when given approximately 6 to 8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. However, you can also provide filtered light using blinds or curtains.
Prayer plants can also tolerate low-light conditions but cannot handle bright, direct sunlight. Intense sunlight can cause the color of the leaves to fade (or turn yellow) and may even burn the foliage. Position your prayer plant approximately 3 feet away from an east or southeast-facing window to provide the right amount of sunlight.
5. Prayer Plants Symbolize Gratitude
Prayer plants also have beautiful meanings and symbolism thanks to their ‘praying’ leaves. The holy, humble appearance of the folded leaves has been associated with gratitude in several cultures. This symbolism makes prayer plants an excellent gift. Giving someone a prayer plant is a touching way of saying thank you or conveying gratitude
6. Prayer Plants May Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
These days, it’s no surprise that people are feeling more stressed than ever. Thankfully, houseplants such as prayer plants may provide a natural form of stress relief.
A 2015 study found that interacting with houseplants can lower our stress levels. Two groups of 12 young men had their stress levels measured while working at a computer and repotting a houseplant. When the participants interacted with the houseplant, they felt less stressed.
Another study found that looking after a houseplant can improve our quality of life. The effect was measured in elderly residents as they began learning about and caring for a houseplant. Other researchers found that houseplants may improve heart health, reduce muscle tension, and stimulate positive electrical activity in our brains.
7. Prayer Plants Could Help Boost Productivity and Focus
Whether you use them in a home office or a workplace, prayer plants may also help boost productivity and focus. One study found that having houseplants around you could improve productivity by up to 15%.
Office workers in the Netherlands and the UK had their productivity evaluated twice. The workers were tested once with houseplants in the room and once with the plants removed. The data showed that participants were more productive and less stressed when the plants were present.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan also evaluated the effect of plants on memory. The research showed that even simply looking at photos of plants helped boost memory retention by up to 20%.
8. Prayer Plants Could Help Improve Our Sleep
Having prayer plants in your bedroom could also help us sleep better. In addition to purifying the air in our bedrooms, houseplants could have a more profound impact on our sleep patterns.
In 2019, a team of Chinese scientists studied the effects of houseplants on the sleep patterns of astronauts. The data showed that their sleep improved when participants could see or smell a plant. The participants also seemed able to regulate their central nervous systems better when they could see the plants.
9. Prayer Plants Have Feng Shui Benefits
According to feng shui, living plants such as prayer plants are strongly linked to the Wood element. Wood represents creativity, emotional support, good luck, growth, prosperity, and renewal. Using the Bagua map, you can use prayer plants and their Wood element energy to improve certain aspects of your life.
According to the Bagua map, Wood is strongest in the eastern and southeastern areas of your home. These areas govern family and prosperity, respectively. And because Wood is associated with growth and creativity, prayer plants can make excellent additions to your home office.
10. Prayer Plants Are Non-Toxic to Humans and Pets
If you have pets or small children, some houseplants can be off-limits because they may be toxic. However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists prayer plants as non-toxic. This means that prayer plants are safe to have around cats and dogs.
Prayer plants are also non-toxic to humans, making them safe for children. However, although prayer plants aren’t toxic, they may still cause mild stomach irritation if ingested. Make sure to keep prayer plants away from paws and hands wherever possible.
11. Prayer Plants Can Act As Natural Soundproofing
If you’re struggling to concentrate due to annoying ambient noise, prayer plants and other houseplants could help. Plants can absorb or weaken sound waves using their leaves or stems. This helps reduce ambient noise, although you’ll need many plants to achieve a consistent effect.
A Korean team studied how plants compared to paper-based soundproofing devices. The data showed that plants actually performed better, creating a form of natural soundproofing for your home. Sounds like an excellent excuse to create your own prayer plant jungle.
12. Prayer Plants Can Help Increase Humidity
Like prayer plants, humans need a specific humidity level to remain healthy. Prayer plants require moderate humidity levels measuring between 50 to 60%. According to Australia’s National Asthma Council, humans need between 30 and 50% humidity levels.
If interior humidity is too low, you could develop problems like dry skin or eczema or respiratory issues like asthma. Thankfully, prayer plants can naturally increase humidity by releasing excess water through their leaves. And if you use humidifiers to keep your prayer plant happy, you’ll be slightly increasing humidity throughout your home as well.
Prayer Plant Benefits – Wrapping Up
Prayer plants have a range of impressive and valuable benefits, from purifying the air to helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Having prayer plants in your home office could even make you more productive, focused, and successful. Prayer plants are relatively easy to grow and provide a dramatic and active display of color.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.