It’s confession time.
I am a renowned indoor plant killer. It’s true. Typically when I acquire a new plant, I say a little prayer, cross my fingers and hope it lives to survive my neglect.
Nothing intentional on my part. Life is busy. Kids, work, blogging…then it’s laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, emptying the dishwasher before prep work for dinner.
Then it’s onto homework, music lessons and somehow fitting in a little family fun time.
So when I recommend an indoor plant, this means the plant is foolproof. You almost can’t kill it if you try.
This sums up my feelings for my red prayer plant that I’ve kept alive and thriving for 1.5 years and counting. Time to celebrate the life of this evergreen perennial plant. (Again…thank you Cheri L. for the plants.)
Here’s why you must acquire a red plant plant to add some drama to your dwelling today!
How the red prayer plant got its name
The red prayer plant acquired its name because the leaves fold up every evening resembling hands folded in prayer.
What a sharp looking plant with alternating light and dark two-toned 6 inch green leaves. Leaves that feather in an out for a vibrant green patterned palette.
Red lines stretch across the many shades of green oozing warmth from the center of each leaf. Although I notice the red almost disappears entirely during the winter months when it doesn’t get as much sun.
But the lines come back strong in spring when sun increases. So even though the red prayer plant is tolerant of low-light conditions and will be happy almost anywhere in your home, the light increases the red lines.
Aside from its striking appearance, I like how compact the red prayer plant is. It never gets any taller than 8-12 inches, an ideal bushy plant!
There are a few varieties of Maranta but the most common one is the tricolor variation which is featured in all the pictures in this post. They are quite similar to Calathea plants in looks and care. But the other Maranta plants do not have red veins making them easier to distinguish.
Another common name for the red prayer plant is the Herringbone plant.
Lighting requirements for the red prayer plant
What can I say? My red prayer plant is content. It comes inside at the end of September and heads back outdoors on my shaded front porch when spring hits in early May. It’s a good life!
As long as its getting bright, but indirect light the red prayer plant is happy.
I’ve observed that the leaves of prayer plants tend to follow the light. Over time careful observation will reveal that the leaves fold in and get more compact at night, while they open up with the sun each day.
But never place a red prayer plant will it will receive direct sunlight all day. This is likely to scorch the leaves making them blotchy and they won’t thank you for that. Too intense sun can also cause patches that fade the color.
A windowsill is an ideal location for a red prayer plant to meet its lighting needs. Bright, indirect sun even in winter will help them maintain growth until active growth resumes in spring.
The red prayer plant also likes to chill under a curtain that can shade the plant from direct sun allowing dappled light to shine though.
Temperature & humidity requirements…
Since the red prayer plant is native to Brazil and used to a tropical climate, it does prefer high humidity.
But where I live, that’s simply not possible especially since we have a woodburning stove that makes our home extremely dry. So we run five humidifiers throughout our home not only for the plants but for ourselves.
While this helps increase the humidity in our home for the good of all, I find misting the red prayer plant once or twice a week makes the plant flourish. It also keeps the dust off the leaves!
If you don’t have a humidifier, place a bowl of water near the plant. Or, fill a tray with small stones and add water just to the level of the stones and place the pot on top of the stones.
A prayer plant prefers normal household temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything under 60 degrees and you risk damaging the leaves.
And before you bring your plants in for the winter, it’s always smart to inspect the plant for unwanted travelers like spidermites, mealybugs and aphids all of which are attracted to the red prayer plant.
Pruning & propagating the red prayer plant
After a year of proud ownership of the red prayer plant I did notice it starting to look a little scruffy with brown tinged-leaves.
So I hauled my plant outside and went to work. I cut off about 12 leaves that looked despondent and trimmed the plant back where it looked bulky.
Then I stood back and admired the result. My plant looked better. I was also pleasantly surprised at how in the coming weeks the plant grew fresher and greener leaves to replace the cut ones.
If you notice the plant getting too leggy and spindly the likely culprit is not enough light. Time for a change of scene to a brighter location!
Pruning and re-potting is also the time to consider propagating the red prayer plant. The easiest method is accomplished through division.
After taking the plant out of the pot and laying it on its side, gently pry apart the plant into 2 or 3 clumps untangling the roots as you work them apart. Each new plant must have a good chunk of root and several stems.
Pot these new smaller plants into small, shallow pots keeping them warm and moist until new growth emerges.
A second way to propagate is through stem cuttings that can be taken from spring to early summer. Snip cuttings just below the nodes as close to the bottom of the stem as possible.
Place cuttings in moist peat and perlite and cover is plastic Saran wrap to retain moisture. Place cuttings in a sunny location.
You can also try rooting stem cuttings in water. Take a broken piece of prayer plant, dip into rooting hormone (if you have any) and place in distilled or purified water.
Don’t be discouraged if your first try with cuttings fail, and try it again! Eventually, it works.
Watering requirements for this non-fussy indoor plant
Over the years, I’ve killed far more plants by overwatering them not underwatering them. Most houseplants simple do not like “wet feet” and to sit in standing water.
This is true of the red prayer plant which likes damp soil but not soggy soil. So I tend to check water levels about once a week but only water about every 10 days and this has worked like a charm for me.
I stick my finger in the soil to about an inch or two. If the soil is still moist, I wait to water. If it’s on the drier side, I water.
Overwatering tends to encourage fungal problems. It can also cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop from the plant. But underwatering can also turn the leaves yellow so you must strike a balance.
During the active growing season in spring and summer you’ll water more and less during the winter months.Don’t use super cold water, room temperature water is best and on the warm side at that!
Potting & fertilizer requirements for the red prayer plant
The red prayer plant likes rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5-6 so slightly acidic conditions are best. A peat moss potting mix will do the trick.
If you don’t have any, regular potting soil is fine and eventually you can mix in some sphagnum peat moss or perlite. Perlite is a favorite of mine and I always keep a bag on hand to increase drainage making plants happy.
Using pots with drainage holes is always a good idea. Perlite increases solid drainage as does adding rocks or gravel to the bottom of the pot.
When re-potting a plant, always start with clean, fresh and pre-packaged soil that has no bugs yet or potential weed seeds. It’s never okay to use garden soil for indoor plants.
Only re-pot if your plant becomes root-bound as that causes the plant to grow slower. The best time to re-pot is in spring right become active growth commences. Always choose a pot that is only one or two inches wider than the nursery pot or existing pot.
I like to fertilize my plant every two weeks during the winter months and more during the summer when active growth is taking place. Dilute a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer (10-10-10) to half strength.
Too little fertilizer and you won’t get results from your efforts, but too much fertilizer will either burn the roots or kill the plant entirely. If you notice leaves getting too brown, it could be that you are using too much fertilizer. It’s all about balance!
As you can see for your own eyes~ there’s no faking it! The red prayer plant is healthy and happy spiffing up my indoor space!