Prayer plants are popular houseplants for good reason. Their beautiful leaves catch the eye with their seemingly painted on patterns and the lemon lime prayer plant is bright and vibrant. This green variety of maranta should not be overlooked as a beginner friendly plant. It is far less fussy than it’s red veined relative and many other ‘prayer’ plant varieties. I often refer to this one as ‘the good boy’ because it just grows and grows and flowers and aside from decent quality water, it doesn’t want for much.
This green variety of maranta has flowered several times since I’ve had it (almost 2 years at the time of this post) and seeing it’s tiny, delicate flowers really spurs on the planty momentum and makes this indoor grower feel accomplished. There is little you need to do to see your plant bloom – they don’t need special fertilizer or large amounts of sun – just a bit of patience because they’ll flower in their own time and it’s not to be rushed.
Now, it will be worthwhile to note that maranta is a plant that would normally be found crawling along the forest floor. It doesn’t grow tall, but rather creeps forward into a carpet of growth. This means your plant will grow in a formation that you may not find appealing – it can end up sort of bald on top with lanky growth hanging down. The fix for this is simple. Take cuttings, root them in water (which happens easily and is an enjoyable process on it’s own) and plant them back into the bald spots.
You may see your plant sending out little runners that grow baby plants at the ends of them, similar to a spider plant. If that happens, you can leave it attached until you see it form roots and then plant it straight back into the pot. You can see one of the runners forming in the image above. It did grow a plantlet and I did plant it into the main pot where it is now filling in a bald spot.
Maranta are called Prayer Plants because they raise and lower their leaves through the day as if in prayer. Sometimes I even see them move out of the corner of my eye! If your plant stops moving, it’s time to take a good look to see if it needs water, has a pest or some other problem. Generally, they will move their leaves down in the morning to catch daylight, then fold them upwards in the evening to preserve water.
Lemon Lime Maranta Prayer Plant General Care:
Light: Generally, plants in the marantaceae or prayer plant family are best kept out of high light situations. Too much light will have prayer plants curling it’s leaves up to protect them. If you notice your plant curling up, first look for pests and then move it back a bit from the light source. Indirect or dappled light is best. Mine is approximately 20 feet from a large west window.
Water: This is where most go wrong with maranta. Most care guides say a version of this “keep moist and do not let it become dry.” but I feel that advice leads to many problems. Fungus gnats are one, but root rot and root suffocation is sure to follow. I do let my plant dry out between waterings but I do not let it sit dry for long. I find over watering can contribute to dry crispy leaves by way of root rot. If the roots are not in good condition, they cannot deliver moisture to the leaves. Do use filtered water for prayer plants because they cannot process salts and minerals in our tap water. Because of this, they store the minerals in the tips of their leaves and they will eventually brown.
Soil: I also feel that soil is a massive problem when it comes to prayer plant varieties. Greenhouses pack them with a peat heavy mix so they don’t have to water as often but continuing to use this type of soil in the home leads to disaster. Repot your plant in a well draining mix that includes perlite so roots can breathe and soil can dry between waterings. If you feel your plant is drying out too fast and requires more than once a week watering, you can always make a change to the soil or put it in a larger pot.
Humidity: Again another piece of common advice is to keep humidity high, to mist your plant, or use a pebble tray. Yes, these plants do love humidity but they can also develop fungus, mold and rot from leaves and soil staying wet. If you have your plant in a high humidity situation you must also provide great airflow so leaves and soil do not sit wet. Mine is doing well in our general household humidity of 45-55% and I do not mist it.
Fertilizer: This plant isn’t a huge feeder so an organic balanced fertilizer, diluted to half strength will be enough. Fertilize once a month during the growing season. Do take great care in fertilizing your plant as they are sensitive and can end up with burnt leaf tips. Using a soil amendment such as worm castings is a great way to go with sensitive plants instead of a water based fertilizer. It’s often enough. Prayer Plants also benefit greatly from good mycorrhizal colonies in the soil which is another reason to choose organic fertilizers.
Pruning and propagation: Prune as necessary to maintain a pleasing growth pattern. If you wish to propagate the pieces, be sure to include a node in your cutting. It’s the swollen bit between sections. Just a leaf cutting might not always work. Place your cutting in water so that the note is submerged and watch for roots to form. Plant in soil when roots are approx 2″ in length.
Pests: Maranta can be susceptible to most pests but will especially attract spider mites if they remain dry for too long or fungus gnats if constantly wet. If you need more information about spider mites you can see how I handled spider mites on my indoor hibiscus tree.
Toxicity: Most marantaceae family plants are non-toxic but as with any plant, don’t let pets or children chew on them. One never knows when there might be a reaction.