Garden Guide: Prayer plants are difficult to grow in most homes
If you've walked into a nursery and seen gorgeous colorful foliage in the houseplant section, you may have been looking at a prayer plant. They are popular houseplants because they don't require a lot of light, but it is tough to meet all their growing requirements in the average house.
Some of the most common prayer plants available for homes include stromanthe, calathea, and ctenanthe. They all are happy in low-light levels but unfortunately also need a lot more humidity than most homes can provide. These plants are also not forgiving if you miss a few waterings.
Prayer plants will survive inside normal household conditions, but they typically don't thrive, especially in the winter. Usually, the leaves will crisp up because the air in our homes is much drier during the colder weather months. Out of the three prayer plants above, I find ctenanthe to be the most forgiving.
A few tips to help increase humidity:
1. Pebble trays
This is not the best method to add humidity, but some plant owners try it anyway. The idea is the tray goes underneath the plant. The pebbles keep the plant's container above the water inside the tray. The water evaporates and increases humidity. Unfortunately, the reality is this will not add a lot of humidity in most situations.
2. Mist the leaves
Misting leaves does not help improve humidity levels, but I do find that it keeps the leaves cleaner and helps keep soil moisture levels from fluctuating. This could reduce leaf crisping.
3. A humidifier
This will improve the humidity levels around your plant. It's not the prettiest looking machine, but your plant will thank you.
4. Keep plants away from heaters
This is a suggestion any plant owner can follow. We think tropical plants love high temperatures, and that is true! Unfortunately, home heating systems produce desert-like conditions that are terrible for most plants. Even cacti prefer to stay away from heaters.
Prayer plants are part of the marantaceae family, which have a fun quirk. Prayer plants have leaves that fold up at night! The process is called nycinasty. There are a lot of theories about why plants are adapted to do this, but scientists still do not know for sure. The function could help regulate moisture and temperature as well as promote stronger growth.