Have an existing prayer plant that you want to cultivate further? Read on to know a couple of ways on how to propagate prayer plants!
Prayer plants have these beautiful flat and wide oval leaves with different shades of green. They are also known as Maranta, from the Italian botanist and physician Bartolomeo Maranta.
Why is called prayer plant though? It’s because this plant’s leaves fold together like a prayer at night, making circadian rhythms. The leaves then open straight and downward again during the day.
Marantas are great houseplants. There are different varieties of it and are quite trouble-free to grow. This is one of the factors why many previous owners and gardeners want to propagate their own prayer plants.
Before I start diving on prayer plant propagation methods, here are a few quick facts about them.
- Common Name: Maranta, Prayer plant
- Scientific Name: Maranta leuconeura
- Native Location: Central and South America especially in Brazillian tropical forests, West Indies
- Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
- Watering Needs: Average
- Mature Size: up to 12 inches tall while 6-inch tall leaves
- Sun or Shade needs: Bright, indirect sunlight
- Humidity: High
- Temperature: 60 to 80 degrees F
- Soil Type: Well-draining and rich
- Soil pH: Acidic
- Bloom Time: May to July
- Hardiness Zones: 11 to 12
4 Basic Ways of Propagating Prayer Plant
Don’t be intimidated if you’re planning to expand your plant collection for the first time, propagating prayer plants is relatively easy after all!
The best time to propagate your prayer plant is during spring. During this season, the young cuttings you take from the mother plant are eager to root.
However, they are also at a greater risk of drying out if you don’t know how to proper care for them. You should also have a healthy plant that you will use for propagating.
Propagating Prayer Plant from stem cuttings
The first method is the most popular and frankly the easiest method by far. Start by observing the stem of your prayer plant. You will find the leaf nodes over the surface of the stem.
Before making a cut, make sure to choose a strong and healthy stem; do the cut just under the leaf nodes using sterilized pruning shears.
To let the roots develop, make sure that the entire node from your cut is in one piece.
Keep your prayer plant cuttings about ten centimetres long with 3 to 4 leaves in it. You can root the cuttings directly in soil on a pot that measures about 2-3 inches. After a month, your cutting will start rooting. You can now move them in a standard soil and pot.
Most gardeners dip the cuttings first in the combination of water and rooting hormone powder. When the roots are about an inch long, that’s when they are planted in a moist potting medium.
When rooting your cuttings, place them in an area with low light to make the roots develop faster. You can move them to a brighter location once they have fully adapted.
Propagating through root division
Root divisions are usually done when repotting the prayer plant. With this method, you need to shake off any clinging soil in the roots.
Split the plant into a couple of portions. Be careful in doing so since the root system of your prayer plant is a little delicate. You need to be cautious and gentle when prying them apart.
You can use your hands or a small knife when you’re dividing the plant. To help minimize shock from your plant, you can cut them back slightly right before you place them in a new pot.
Remember to do this method as fast as possible so the roots won’t dry out.
What about slip propagation?
This type of propagation can also be considered under the propagation from cuttings. However, it also closely resembles the root division.
Basically, it’s not much different from the two. Using this method, you will need plant slips.
You can get the slips if you have a healthy prayer plant with lots of vigorous stems. Before you start dividing these slips, have clean pots and fresh potting soil ready.
Take out the prayer plant from its pot then softly remove the excess soil on the roots until the root system is exposed.
Using your fingertips, gently comb the different clusters of stem and roots separately into strands. You now have the plant slips.
You can then proceed to plant these slips in other pots just as deep as they were planted previously.
Propagating from seed
Propagating prayer plants from seed is a really rare method. It’s because it can be quite a drag to do this, not to mention that it can be a challenge to even find maranta seeds.
Another thing is that you can’t get the seeds that you need from your existing prayer plant especially if you’re growing them indoors.
Why? There is a low chance for your prayer plant to make blooms indoors. No flowers mean there are no seeds to propagate.
If you ever get the chance to have a seed, you just need to plant them in a moist potting medium. The perfect temperature for your prayer plant seed to germinate is in about 55 to 65 degrees F.
Make sure to put a plastic bag cover over your germinating plant to maintain the moisture.
Again, you can first place your new plant in an area with less humidity. As they grow, you can slowly expose them to their natural or normal growing conditions.
This way, you can let your prayer plants become accustomed to their environment at their own time.
Your prayer plants love bright, indirect sunlight and will need a well-drained soil to thrive. As for the humidity, you might want to keep it high for your prayer plants.
Remember to keep your soil constantly soil moist and of course not soaked. With this, your new plant’s survival is guaranteed.
Personally, I place my prayer plant cuttings in a combination of perlite and moist peat. I found that the cuttings grow well with it.
The perlite helps in improving drainage and ventilation. Put your new cuttings in a sunny area, you can use a plastic with small holes in it for ventilation to cover the medium. This can help in retaining the moisture level that your new cutting needs.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.