Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant

Common Name: Prayer Plant, Ten Commandments
Latin Name:  Maranta leuconeura
Family: Marantaceae
Plant Type: Perennial
Origin: Brazil
Humidity: High
Temperature: 60 – 85*F
Height: 12″
Color: Green, light green, shades of red
Insects and Diseases: Mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids

The Prayer Plant has wide oval shaped leaves are dark green with a white or light green running down the spine of the leaf. The veins that run up the leaves can be several shades of red. The underside of these beautiful leaves is red.

The Prayer Plant gets it’s name for it’s unique habit of raising their leaves to an upright position at night time. The leaves fold together like hands during prayer!

Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of the Prayer Plant and can quickly kill the plant. The plant prefers bright indirect sunlight, but is generally tolerant of lower light areas.

This plant doesn’t like to get dried out between waterings. Keep the soil evenly moist all the time, but never let the soil be soggy. The water should be a little warm or at least room temperature. Reduce watering during the winter months.

A good quality general purpose soil can be used as long as it drains well. Add some Perlite or sand and a little peat is the soil doesn’t have good drainage.

To mix your own soil use 1 part Perlite or coarse sand, 1 part garden soil and 1 part peat or humus dusted with just a little bit of lime. Rocks can be used to help with drainage and you should use a pot that has a hole in the bottom.

Prayer plants should be fed during their growing season which is from spring through fall. Feed them every two weeks with a high quality water soluble plant food.

Propagation can be done by plant division or cuttings. The plant can be divided early in the spring at the time repotting should be done. Stem cutting can be done from spring to early in the summer.Stem cuttings should be taken from just below the plants nodes that are closest to the bottom of the stems.

Place cuttings in Perlite and moist peat, the pot can be placed in a plastic bag or covered with plastic to retain moisture. Cut a few holes in the plastic for air circulation and place in a sunny location.

Pieces of the Mantra that have broken off of the plant can also be rooted, as long as there is some of the stem left. Dip the end in some rooting hormone and keep the piece in distilled water. Make sure to change the water daily and plant it in soil after the roots are at least an inch long.


If the tips of the leaves are turning brown or curling up, the plant is getting too much light. Another cause for brown tips can also be the chlorine found in tap water. Use filtered water or let water sit for 24 hours before watering the plant.

A daily misting can help provide the plant with the humidity it needs that may not be present in your home. You can also set a container of water near the plant, the evaporating water will give the plant some added humidity.

Written by Connie Corder for, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved


  1. christine
    Jan 22, 2010


    I live in Northeast Ohio and I just potted three, small prayer plants into a shallow plastic pot. The location of the pot is an East facing window. Your article mentions that direct sunlight will scorch the leaves. This window does get some direct light, but it is morning sun. What is your opinion on the location?

    Thank you.

  2. Mitch
    Mar 24, 2010

    Your plant seems to be messed up.

  3. christine
    Mar 25, 2010

    Thanks for your thoughtful and relevant response, Mitch.

  4. Rebecca
    Apr 22, 2010


    I have my plant near a north facing window where it gets lots of indirect light and it is very happy. I would recommend keeping it out of direct light. If that window is the only spot you have for it, maybe put it on the ground near the window so that it isn’t in the direct light. I find these plants to be very hardy. 🙂 Enjoy it!

  5. christine
    Apr 23, 2010

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you. Your advice is very appreciated! I was nervous putting the prayer plant where it is because the last 2 died. So far, it is doing very well, with no brown tips or wilting leaves. It is turning out to be hardy after all. Prayer plants are beautiful!

  6. CoCo
    Apr 24, 2010

    I’m not real sure about the sunlight, I’d think that it would take prolonged periods of time to really hurt the plant. One of my neighbors actually had one planted in her yard in direct sun and it did fine. Maybe she was just lucky, not sure, but it was really pretty and looked great.

  7. Hanna
    Jun 19, 2010

    I just put one outside of my house. I’m hoping it will grow out there. From the window in the house it wasn’t getting enough light and it was one-sided. It isn’t in direct sunlight and I’m hoping that it will grow full and not one-sided.

  8. christine
    Jun 20, 2010


    Your plant will grow evenly if you give it a quarter turn every time you water it (assuming that you water regularly and on roughly the same day each week). If you do that, all sides will get equal amounts of light. I have several plants that I need to rotate to maintain equal growth.

  9. Gladys
    Aug 1, 2010

    my leaves are turning brown and dont curl any morre, I use bottle water but iam skird of over watering

  10. Lisa
    Oct 16, 2010

    I have had the same prayer plant for many years. Just this summer I have noticed brown spots on the leaves (not on the tips). Would too much light cause this too? Also, do you ever seperate prayer plants?

    I would appreciate any help.

  11. toni
    Oct 28, 2010

    ive had my prayer plant for bout 6months, it was all grownin relly well in my consereotory but i think i over watered it and now it wont dry out, my leaves are curled up, the tips are brown and are drooping and even the stems are drooping. I dont know what i should do with it now? any ideas?

  12. Anonymous
    Dec 19, 2010

    I’m getting white powdery stuff on my stems. help needed

  13. anthony_simms1
    Dec 11, 2011

    does anyone know where i could actually buy one of these plants ? ive been looking everywhere and i cant seem to find them

    many thanks

    • Anonymous
      Mar 6, 2012

      Home depot has them I just get one today

    • Amanda Perry
      Mar 9, 2012

      Amazon is where I hit mine 🙂

  14. kevin
    Sep 9, 2012

    hi, my name is kevin. i am living in a nurse home, call saint france. address 417 indrustrail dr oberlin la 70655 ph 337 639 2934. i am asking plesae for a little help like a donation of a pray plant for me. this will be really niece to have one in my room. kevin gatte, i hope somebody out there can help me.

  15. Linda
    Oct 9, 2012

    Just received a prayer plant as a house warming gift, but after waiting for evening all day, it never closed or “prayed”… What happened? Do you think it’s because it has to adjust to it’s new enviroment? I also put it in my indoor glass “hot house” across from my window, in a bright room, out of direct sun light. Mine also is growing uneven, meaning one side is fuller/higher than the other side… Need a village to help me raise my prayer plant

  16. jessica
    Jun 5, 2013

    Im wanting to make another prayer plant and im not sure how to cut the leaves. I need a little better example. I think i understand how to do it just trying to make sure in a better way to cut it.

  17. Rosemerry
    Aug 27, 2013

    Can you use a self watering pot for this plant? By self watering, I mean that there is water in The bottom of the pot and then the part that the plant is in sits in the water and is absorbed by the inner part of the pot. I use this type of pot for African violet plants and it works very well for them. Thx.

  18. Annette
    Jan 17, 2014

    I’ve had my plant for years maybe40 years. Each year it has make rizomes and comes up again. It also produces seeds. But this year when it is dying back it looks terminal. I don’t see any spures or spikes of a new plant coming up. Is it too old? or is it just slow. I think it may have been a bit too dry I am using VF 11 trying to revive it. What do you think is it just old?

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