One of the great things about Prayer Plants (Maranta leuconeura) is the excitement of seeing a new leaf unfurl. When a Prayer Plant has its needs met, it can grow new stems and leaves at an amazing pace! But sometimes, Prayer Plants seem to slow down or stop growing altogether.
Why do Prayer Plants stop growing? There are a few main problems that can cause Prayer Plants to slow or stop growing. It could be caused by insufficient sunlight, overcrowded roots, or a lack of nutrients in the soil. Slow growth could also be a natural decrease in activity related to seasonal changes.
Slow growth can be a sign of a problem with your plant, but it isn’t always. If you have a Maranta that is not growing as quickly as you expected, read through the tips below to get an idea of whether there is a problem or not – and if there is, how to fix it.
Why Prayer Plants Stop Growing
Although they don’t get very big, a healthy Prayer Plant can easily grow many new stems and leaves when given the right conditions. You might expect 1 or 2 new leaves to develop per month during the summer.
Prayer Plants might stop growing because there is something wrong with their environment, or simply due to their natural growth cycle. All plants have periods of activity and rest, so be sure you account for seasonal changes when you consider what your Prayer Plant is doing.
Usually, if there is something wrong with your Prayer Plant, it will have additional symptoms on top of slowed growth. For example, you may see wilting or changes in leaf color.
These other symptoms should help you understand what’s happening with your plant. Be sure to use all the information available to you when diagnosing a Prayer Plant that has stopped growing so you don’t treat the wrong issue.
A Quick Word on Dormancy
Some plants go completely dormant during the winter, meaning they lose their leaves and appear to be dead until new growth emerges in the spring. This adaptation is found in plants that originate from climates that have extremely hot and cold seasons. Marantas come from a tropical climate that remains mostly the same year-round, so they don’t require a dormant period.
That said, they do dramatically slow their activity in the winter. That’s mainly because they get less sunlight, so they have less energy to put towards growing. Since a Prayer Plant’s activity is reduced during darker and colder months, you should also reduce watering and forego fertilizer until spring.
If your Prayer Plant is not growing as quickly as you’d like during the spring or summer, or it suddenly stops growing altogether, the tips below can help you to figure out what it needs.
Tips for Encouraging Your Prayer Plant to Grow Faster
Tip 1: Have the Right Expectations
Depending on who you ask, some people consider Prayer Plants to be slow-growing, and others think they grow quite quickly. If you have recently added this plant to your collection, you may not know exactly what to expect. So don’t jump to conclusions about how quickly your plant should grow.
It is worthwhile to check in with local resources in your area to see how well Prayer Plants typically do in your climate. You could ask the person who sold or gave you the plant, or a local houseplant group. In general, a climate closest to Prayer Plants’ natural habitat will provide the fastest growth.
Be sure you provide the best conditions for your Prayer Plants, with sufficient light, consistent watering, and high humidity. Inspect the plant regularly for pests, including on the back sides of the leaves. Finally, give the plant a little time to adjust before you try to diagnose slow growth. It may just need a few months to acclimate to the conditions in your home.
Tip 2: Provide Your Prayer Plant Plenty of Light
All plants need light to survive and grow. While Prayer Plants don’t need a lot of bright, direct light (in fact, too much sun can burn them), their reputation as a low-light plant sometimes leads people to put these plants in a dark spot. Although they might survive for a while, Prayer Plants suffer if they don’t have enough sun. Prayer Plants require a location that gets medium or low indirect sunlight for most of the day.
If you consider a Prayer Plant’s natural habitat as a low-grower under a canopy of trees, you can get a sense of what kind of lighting works best. Dappled/filtered light or a bright area out of direct light is perfect for this plant.
Slow growth could be a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight. Look for other signs of inadequate lighting like legginess and pale leaves to confirm your diagnosis. If you do not have the right space near a window to accommodate your Prayer Plant’s lighting requirements, a grow light can supplement it.
If you are planning to move your Prayer Plant into a much brighter area or use a grow light, be sure to do it gradually. This plant dislikes change, and it needs time to adjust to different conditions.
Tip 3: Repot your Prayer Plant
Knowing when to repot your Prayer Plant can be a challenge. As I mentioned above, this plant does not adjust well to environmental changes, so you want to minimize anything that could shock the plant. Be sure that it really needs to be repotted before you take this step.
Prayer Plants need the right balance of potting mix and container size compared to the root system. If there is too much soil in an oversized pot, it will hold excess moisture and lead to overwatering or even root rot. On the other hand, if the roots are taking up most of the space in the pot, water will run right through and not have a chance to be absorbed by the soil.
You can probably expect to move your Prayer Plant to a larger pot every 2 to 3 years. Slow growth or no growth is a sign that it might be ready for repotting. Other signs include potting soil that dries out frequently and roots emerging from the drainage holes or the top of the soil. If you prefer to keep your Prayer Plant in the same container, you can prune it to keep it more compact.
Tip 4: Fertilize Your Prayer Plant
Fertilizer is often the first suggestion that comes up when researching how to get a Prayer Plant to grow. A balanced fertilizer can provide plants an extra boost of nutrients that jump-starts their growth, but it should be used cautiously.
Commercial potting soil already contains fertilizers, but they can be depleted if your plant has been in the same soil for a few years. You can use compost or chemical fertilizer to provide the macronutrients that help Prayer Plants grow.
Marantas are sensitive to over-fertilizing, so I always dilute my fertilizer to half of the manufacturer’s recommended strength. If used carefully, fertilizer can get your Prayer Plant growing again.
Prayer Plants will grow fastest during the spring and summer months if they are given the right conditions. Their growth usually slows down during the late fall and winter months, as temperatures and available sunlight decrease.
If you want to encourage your Prayer Plants to grow faster, you should make sure they have light, space to grow, and sufficient nutrients. If you can provide these basics, your Prayer Plants should be happy and healthy and reward you with plenty of new growth.