If a beginner houseplant gardener, you are probably on the lookout for the most appropriate plant to have. You want something that isn’t too much of a hassle to deal with – something that isn’t too demanding but at the same time, appealing. There are several choices you can pick to nurture your budding love for gardening, and the prayer plant probably fits the bill.
As a matter of fact, prayer plants are some of the most beautiful plants around. They add a particular kind of appeal into your living room making it quite hospitable – guests will probably want to stay longer enjoying the freshness and charm that prayer plant brings. Read on for some basics on how you can take care of the plant.
What is a Prayer Plant?
This is among the most popular houseplants with characteristic broad oval-shaped leaves covered with several shades of red-colored veins. The overall leaves are dark green and tend to take an upright position when the night falls – probably not afraid of the dark. This folding together of the leaves is like folding hands when praying.
And no, the plants are not afraid of the dark. There is one word used in the science circles to explain this behavior, and it is ‘Nyctinasty’ – yes that word.
Nyctinasty is the movement of the leaves in response to sunlight changes or even touch. It is believed that they do this to avoid cold – smart? A similar plant that reacts, the pulvini is sensitive to touch and closes its leaves when you touch them. The pulvini, however, responds to avoid being eaten by the herbivores – a survival tactic of some sort.
There are different varieties of the prayer plant, and the main difference is in the color of the leaves and shadings on the veins. You just choose the type that is pleasing to your eyes because they all require the same care.
Prayer plants are not like dracaena. They may need a little bit of more attention from you, but that shouldn’t worry you too much. With a little bit of work, you will get the hang of it.
How you grow the Prayer Plant
The best conditions for a prayer plant include a high level of humidity, well-drained, and moist soil. You should use warm water as they are a bit sensitive to cold. However, this should change during the winter dormancy by keeping the pot a little bit dryer. But not too dry.
Create favorable humid condition by keeping a bowl of water near it – remember this is only for winter when you are not watering it.
Prayer Plant Care
- Water: plants love water, and you should not keep them thirsty for long if you know what’s right for them. Keep the soil consistently moist without overdoing it, and the plant will perform relatively well. A good watering can will do the trick just ensure you are using should be at the least room temperature if not warm – the prayer plants don’t like cold baths! Reduce watering during winter.
- Light: the ideal lighting for prayer plants is indirect bright light. Avoid the temptation of keeping it in direct sunlight as that can lead to the scorching of the leaves. You can let the plant hang pretty near a window where the direct rays of the sun cannot reach it.If you notice the tips of the leaves turning brown or folding up, they are probably getting too much light, and you should move them to another spot with no direct sunlight striking the plant.This problem can also be as a result of using tap water. The chlorine in the water can easily cause the leaves to turn brown. Use distilled water instead or allow your tap water to sit for several minutes before watering.
- Soil: any regular potting soil can be used, but it has to be well-drained. If not, you can add coarse sand or perlite. And to enhance drainage, add gravel or rocks at the bottom. Make sure the pot also has a hole for drainage.
- Feeding: they should be fed after every two weeks with a highly soluble food designed for houseplants.
- Pruning: pruning encourages vigorous growth. Do it by clipping the appropriate stems, and this will lead to the growth of new shoots for a bushier appearance. Make use of sterile gardening scissors.
- Repotting: repotting is always a good idea to ensure that the plants continue doing better and making you proud. When roots outgrow the pot, they tend to grow slower than necessary.You can trim the roots, change the soil and use the same pot. Alternatively, you can get a slightly bigger pot, fill it with the right potting mix and add the plants.
- Propagation: propagating the plant is not an uphill task. Just get a stem cutting from below the leaf node, deep it in the rooting hormone and then in a glass of water. Be sure to change the water after every few days. The best cuttings are those closest to the bottom of the stem.You can use the same process with a branch that has broken off – of course, it is not waste, treat it just like a cutting and dip in the distilled water.Don’t rush to pot the cutting but wait until the roots are at least an inch long. That way, they have a better chance at life.Alternatively, you can dip the cutting directly into the soil without following all the above process. However, the soil should be moist, day in day out.
Your planting medium can as well be a mixture of perlite and peat. Make sure that they are forever moist and should be covered in plastic to keep it that way. Poke holes on the plastic to ensure adequate ventilation – after all, your mission is not to choke the plant. Finally, place the cutting somewhere with sufficient indirect sunlight.
- Dealing with Pests and Diseases: some of the pests that invade the player plant include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. In that case, it is always best to inspect all new houseplants before you welcome them into your home. Also, make it a habit of inspecting player plants when feeding or watering so that you can identify a pest problem early enough. The helminthosporium leaf spot is one of the common diseases that your prayer plant can get. You will identify it by the leave with water-soaked spots. This disease should never be ignored as it can quickly kill your houseplant in a matter of days.You can easily control helminthosporium by not making the leaves too wet and not over-watering. Neem oil will also manage any developing outbreak.