How to Care for Your Prayer Plants | The Essentials

Feb 5, 2020

Calathea, Maranta, Stromanthe and Ctenanthe are stunningly beautiful houseplants that can brighten any area of your home and even purify the air, all while providing an effortless and yet dramatic style. There are many different types of Prayer Plants in all shapes and sizes, each with its own uniquely shaped leaves and colorings, so you can likely find one, or several, that will complement your home. In order to keep these houseplants looking their best, you will need to give them the right type of care. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!  Find out how to care for your Prayer Plants so you can enjoy the vivid colors and elegant style these indoor plants have to offer.

Prayer Plant Leaf Chart

Understanding Your Prayer Plants


The hallmark of these indoor plants are the leaves which can feature different shades of greens, pinks, and purples all woven together in intricate patterns. All Prayer Plants are known for moving their leaves. This movement is subtle and barely noticeable, but if you pay attention (or use a time-lapse camera), you will see that the leaves will perk up at night and relax down during the day. This movement is driven by a circadian rhythm and allows the plants to get as much light as possible.

Prayer Plant Light Requirements

Calathea, Maranta, Stromanthe, and Ctenanthe love indirect light. Find a spot that receives dappled lighting or place your plant near an east-facing window. If you have a room that is routinely flooded with light then place your Calathea on the opposite side of the room from the windows or doors that let the light in. If you want to nudge your plant closer to south-facing windows, then add curtains that will diffuse the sunlight.

These showy indoor plants can do well in somewhat shady areas, but they still require some light. For colorful varieties that feature pinks and purples in the leaves, like Calathea Pinstripe, Calathea Rosy, and Calathea Dottie, lots of indirect sunlight is necessary if you want these colors to really come through. Sunlight pulls out the deep hues, and if the plant receives more shade than light, the colors will be somewhat muted. Prayer plants that have more pronounced white variegation will benefit from being in medium to lower light areas.

Water and Humidity Needs

Prayer Plants love humidity and will really thrive in areas with lots of ambient moisture in the air. Bathrooms and kitchens are great places for them. Increase the humidity in the vicinity of your houseplant by placing your potted Prayer Plants on a tray of pebbles and fill the tray with water. If you use a humidifier during the dry winter months, place the humidifier next to your Prayer Plant. You can also periodically mist your houseplants to give them some extra dampness, but misting is only a temporary solution and should only be applied in the morning or early afternoon because excess moisture can create mildew and mold!

These houseplants are not drought tolerant, and this group of indoor plants require regular watering. Let the surface of the soil dry out between watering. Allowing all of the soil to dry out may end up being more than this indoor plant can handle, so don’t wait too long between watering. When you water them, give the plants a nice long drink. We recommend keeping your Calathea, Maranta, Stromanthe, or Ctenanthe in a grow pot placed inside of a cover pot.  You can also use a pot with drainage holes placed on a tray so any water that flows through the pot can then provide localized humidity, and the roots will not sit in excess water.

Calathea Rosy

Upgrade Their Digs

Some plants do really well when they are root bound, or when their roots fill out and the pot they call home becomes a tight fit. Prayer Plants are not one of those plants. When they start to outgrow their pot it is time for an upgrade to a larger container. This extra space will allow your houseplant to grow, spread out and live its best life. Most Prayer Plants are not a fast growers, so you won’t have to transplant to a bigger pot often. Some of the larger varieties, like Stromanthe Sanguinea or Calathea White Star, top out at around two feet tall, so at a certain point, these plants will stop growing, maintain their size and not require a larger container.

Additional Prayer Plant Care

Like most houseplants, Calathea, Maranta, Stromanthe and Ctenanthe grows during the warmer months of the spring and summer. Growth slows down during the winter. Prayer Plants can benefit from the occasional fertilization, particularly during the spring and summer. Keep the leaves clean and remove any spent leaves. Sometimes if the plant receives too much water, or not enough water, the leaves will begin to turn brown at the tips. If this happens simply use a clean pair of scissors to trim away the dead area.

Create the Ideal Home

As with most houseplants, the key to keeping your Prayer Plants thriving is to find a spot with plenty of indirect light and to get in the habit of watering the plant when the soil dries out. Once you establish a good home and the right amount of water, you can sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of this indoor plant.

Learn more plant care tips and tricks to keep all of your plants looking healthy and lush.

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