Prayer plants are famed for their colorful, vibrant leaves that curl up at night and unfurl during the morning. These beneficial houseplants are pretty easy to grow at home as long as you follow some key pointers. In this article, I’ll explain when and how to water prayer plants for optimal care and plant health.
- When and How to Water Prayer Plants – The Essentials
- About Prayer Plants
- The Role of Water in Plant Health and Development
- How Do You Know When a Prayer Plant Needs Watering?
- How to Water Prayer Plants
- Signs That You Might Be Overwatering Your Prayer Plant
- Signs That You Might Be Underwatering Your Prayer Plant
- What to Do In Between Watering Cycles
- Watering Prayer Plants FAQs
- How to Water Prayer Plants – Wrapping Up
When and How to Water Prayer Plants – The Essentials
During spring and summer, water prayer plants approximately once a week or whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. Nerve plants need relatively moist soil but can dry out a little between waterings. Water less often during the winter when the prayer plant is dormant. Use filtered or distilled water for optimal care.
About Prayer Plants
Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) belong to the Maranta genus within the arrowroot family (Marantaceae). These tropical plants are native to the rainforests of Brazil, where they grow as ground cover on the forest floor.
Prayer plants have beautiful green oval-shaped leaves with vibrant patterns and spots. The leaves curl up at night, resembling someone’s hands in prayer – hence their common name. When morning comes, the leaves unfurl until they are flat.
Prayer plants are fairly compact houseplants, growing up to 12 inches tall and wide. Each leaf can be up to 5 inches long, creating a dramatic visual statement.
The Role of Water in Plant Health and Development
Like most organisms on the planet, plants wouldn’t survive without water. In fact, up to 95% of a plant’s mass is made of water, compared to 60% for the average human.
Water is a crucial component in photosynthesis when plants mix water with carbon dioxide and solar energy to produce glucose. This glucose is used as fuel to manufacture cellulose, which plants use to create new cells and tissues. Without cellulose, plants wouldn’t be able to produce leaves or stems.
Plants absorb water from the soil using their roots. As the roots absorb water, nutrients from the surrounding soil are also sucked up into the plant. Many of these nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, are crucial for producing leaves or flowers.
Seeds also need water to germinate properly. If seeds don’t get enough water from the soil, they will fail to germinate. This prevents the next generation of plants from growing.
How Do You Know When a Prayer Plant Needs Watering?
It’s always best to check whether your prayer plant needs watering before giving it a drink. This helps prevent problems like overwatering or underwatering. There are various ways to do this.
The easiest way to check whether your prayer plant needs watering is to check the soil. Dip your finger into the soil until you reach your knuckle. If the top 2 inches of soil feel dry, then it’s time to water your prayer plant. Alternatively, you could use a moisture meter.
You can also tell whether your prayer plants need watering based on how the plant looks. If the leaves or stems are drooping, the plant probably needs a drink. However, always check the soil first in case the leaves are drooping due to overwatering.
Environmental Factors That May Impact Watering Cycles
Although watering once a week is a good schedule for prayer plants, it depends on the environmental conditions around the plant.
Prayer plants require moderate humidity levels between 50 and 60%. If the air around the prayer plant is too dry, you’ll need to water more frequently. You can maintain the correct humidity level using a humidifier or a pebble tray.
Cold or dry drafts lower the humidity around your prayer plant, forcing you to water more frequently. Keep your prayer plant away from air vents, open windows, and radiators to protect it against drafts.
Prayer plants also need warm temperatures between 60 and 80ºF (15.5 to 26.5ºC). You may have to water more frequently at the higher end of this temperature range. Higher temperatures will cause prayer plants to dry out more quickly.
The type of soil you use can also affect how often you need to water your prayer plant. Prayer plants need well-draining soils that can still hold a little moisture. But if the soil drains too quickly, you’ll have to water your prayer plant more frequently.
The more bright light your prayer plant receives, the more you’ll have to water it. Prayer plants need 6 to 8 hours of bright, indirect, or filtered light during the day. If your prayer plant is growing in low-light conditions, it should need watering a little less frequently.
Seasonal Factors That May Impact Watering Cycles
How often you need to water your prayer plant also changes depending on the season. Prayer plants need to be watered approximately once a week during spring and summer. Prayer plants go dormant in the winter, so water them every 10 to 14 days.
If your region experiences a hot, dry summer, you may have to water your prayer plant more frequently. Hot, dry air also lowers humidity around the plant, forcing it to use moisture more quickly.
How to Water Prayer Plants
Always check whether your prayer plant actually needs a drink before watering. If the top 2 inches of soil still feel moist, hold off on watering for another day. This helps prevent overwatering, which causes serious problems like root rot.
Prayer plants are susceptible to tap water chemicals such as chlorine or fluoride, so never use tap water. Instead, use filtered or distilled water. Alternatively, leave some tap water to stand for 24 hours to allow any chemicals to evaporate.
You should also use lukewarm or room-temperature water on your prayer plants. Because these plants need warm conditions, cold water can shock them.
Always water the soil around the prayer plant’s main stem rather than watering from above. This prevents water from splashing onto the leaves, which can lead to problems. Once the water starts dripping out of the drainage holes of the nursery pot, stop watering.
How Much Water Does a Prayer Plant Need?
Prayer plants should only need 1 or 2 inches of water each time you give them a drink. This is usually enough to keep the soil moist without becoming waterlogged. Only water until liquid starts coming out of the drainage holes underneath the pot.
Signs That You Might Be Overwatering Your Prayer Plant
Overwatering is a significant problem for prayer plants and causes issues like root rot. Here are some signs that you might be overwatering your prayer plant:
- Drooping or wilting leaves or stems
- Yellowing foliage
- Leggy growth
- Root rot
Signs That You Might Be Underwatering Your Prayer Plant
While trying not to overwater your prayer plant, it can be easy to underwater it instead. Here are some symptoms of an underwatered prayer plant:
- Brown leaf tips or edges
- Dry soil that pulls away from the edge of the pot
- Curling or drooping leaves
What to Do In Between Watering Cycles
Use humidifiers or pebble trays to maintain moderate humidity around your prayer plant in between watering cycles. This helps preserve moisture. Keep the prayer plant away from drafts that could lower the temperature or humidity. It’s also prudent to keep an eye out for common prayer plant pests and diseases affecting plant growth.
Watering Prayer Plants FAQs:
Should You Mist a Prayer Plant?
Misting a prayer plant can help maintain the correct humidity levels. Mist the plant in conjunction with a humidifier or pebble tray.
How Often Do Prayer Plants Need Water?
During spring and summer, prayer plants usually need watering once a week. Prayer plants typically need watering every 10 to 14 days in the winter.
Can You Overwater a Prayer Plant?
It’s easy to overwater a prayer plant, so only water whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch.
What Type of Water is Best For Prayer Plants?
Lukewarm or room temperature water that’s been filtered or distilled is the best type of water for prayer plants.
How to Water Prayer Plants – Wrapping Up
Prayer plants need slightly moist soil at all times, so water them whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. Prayer plants usually need watering once a week in spring and summer. During winter, water every 10 to 14 days. Always use lukewarm or room-temperature distilled or filtered water, as prayer plants are sensitive to chemicals.
For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position prayer plants in the home for optimal care and feng shui benefits.