Prayer Plants, scientifically known as Maranta leuconeura, are tropical plants native to Brazil. They enjoy warm, humid environments with just enough sunlight. Because they enjoy humidity, you might be wondering if Prayer Plants can live and grow in water.
Prayer Plants can live and grow in water. However, these plants aren’t suited to aquatic environments. They will probably produce new roots and foliage, but, in the long-term, Prayer Plants will suffer if kept exclusively in water. Ideally, Prayer Plants need moist, well-draining soil to thrive.
Keeping all of this in mind, you probably have more questions about growing Prayer Plants in water, including how to do it and ensure that they get the nutrients they need. This article will cover those topics and more.
Can Prayer Plants Live in Water?
This question is a little bit difficult to answer. Yes, a Prayer Plant can live in water. However, they aren’t meant to, and they won’t be happy doing so. Prayer Plants have evolved to grow in soil, so remember that as you read on.
Many plants, including Prayer Plants, can produce roots when a cutting is put in water. This type of propagation, called water propagation, can be super successful. It’s an easy technique to master, even for beginners. But Prayer Plants, and most other water-propagated plants, are not meant to live in water for long periods of time.
All of that being said, Prayer Plants can live in water. But they won’t thrive, even if all of their needs are met. Water lacks many of the nutrients Marantas need to grow. And any nutrients it does have are used up quickly, resulting in rapid growth at first that quickly tapers off.
Pros of Planting in Water
One of the benefits of planting in water is that you can see exactly how much the plant is growing. Plants usually spend most of their energy growing new roots, so we don’t get to see all of their work. Growing a Prayer Plant in water lets us watch that process.
Planting in water can also decrease the chances of a Maranta leuconeura or any other plant getting an infection. Many common plant ailments, like root rot, are introduced in the soil. These infections can spread rapidly, often faster than the plant can show symptoms. Grown in water, a Prayer Plant probably won’t be exposed to these kinds of problems. If it is, you’ll be able to see the changes in the roots much sooner.
Then of course, there is the aesthetic benefit. Many people love the look of plants grown in glass vases or jars, and want to keep houseplants in water simply for their beauty. While some plants can thrive in this type of display, remember that it is not ideal for the Maranta.
Cons of Planting in Water
Despite there being a few benefits, there are also some problems with planting a Prayer Plant in water. It’s crucial to remember that Prayer Plants aren’t meant to grow in aquatic environments. They may root well and even develop leaves and flowers, but they won’t develop as quickly as they would in soil.
Growing plants in water can also be challenging to master. Fertilizing your plants is different in water. It can be easy to burn the roots and potentially kill your plant if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are resources that make this technique easy to learn.
Fertilizing Water Plants
If you decide that growing your Prayer Plant in water is still the right choice for you, it must get plenty of fresh nutrients (just like in soil). The best way to do this is with a hydroponic fertilizer.
Hydroponic fertilizers are similar to other fertilizers, but they are specifically designed for plants grown in water. They come in both liquid and solid forms at several different price points, but I find the type formulated for Aerogardens works well (like this one on Amazon).
Before dosing your Maranta leuconeura with any fertilizers, you’ll need to test the water to see what is currently in it. Adding nutrients to water that doesn’t need them can damage the plant’s roots. Because testing can be confusing and time-consuming, you can also drain the current water and replace it with distilled water. Distilled water doesn’t have any additives, so your plants won’t be overwhelmed when you fertilize them.
Once you’ve settled on a brand of hydroponic nutrients, you should follow the instructions on the package. Each brand and variety is different, so going by what the manufacturer recommends is the only way to ensure your plants aren’t damaged in the process.
How Often Does the Water Need to Be Changed?
How often your Prayer Plant’s water needs to be changed depends on the plant and the vessel. Water can evaporate more quickly in dry areas, requiring new water regularly. It’s also possible for residue to build up inside the container, coating the roots and making the water smell foul.
Generally, though, changing your Maranta’s water should be done every two to three weeks. This gives the plant enough time to take the nutrients it needs without running out of water. However, this is only a recommendation. Some plants may need more or fewer water changes.
If you aren’t interested in growing a productive plant in water, you can go much longer without changing the water. Just keep an eye on your Prayer Plant and make sure that its roots don’t ever end up completely dry.
For Best Results
The only way to get the best results from your Prayer Plant is to plant it in soil. There are plenty of varieties of other plants that will thrive in a hydroponic setup, such as a Devil’s Ivy or a Pothos, but Prayer Plants will not. They may do well at first, but this won’t last long.
To make your Prayer Plant happiest, give it well-draining soil that’s kept moist without being sopping wet. Prayer Plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight and a lot of humidity. Even though they can grow in water, a Maranta living in soil should never be left to sit in water.
Another Soil Alternative: LECA
A different soil-less option, called LECA, is becoming increasingly popular. LECA stands for “lightweight expanded clay aggregate,” which sounds like a lot. But it’s just an alternative growing medium made out of clay balls that hold water really well.
It’s a perfect choice for anyone that struggles with keeping plants alive. It’s a lot more forgiving than traditional soil because it holds moisture for longer and releases it as the plants need it. This means that plant owners can go for long stretches without watering, and they don’t have to be concerned about overwatering, either.
It’s also a lot less messy. The balls are easy to clean up and won’t destroy pristine carpet if they’re knocked over. The only mess comes from initially opening the bag, which is full of clay dust. This dust goes away after the balls have been soaked, though.
LECA doesn’t come with nutrients, though, so you’ll have to invest in fertilizer, usually a hydroponic one. Additionally, LECA requires special gear and can be expensive to transition to. When using LECA, your pots shouldn’t have drainage holes. You’ll also have to watch the pH levels of the water because it can impact nutrient absorption.
Hydroponic plants are a unique alternative to traditional soil-grown ones. There’s something special about being able to see the roots develop and age in a beautiful container. But it is difficult to maintain and, depending on your devotion to it, can be expensive.
If you’re interested in trying your luck growing a Maranta leuconeura in water, go for it! You can always plant it back in soil if you find that it isn’t going well. Just try to keep in mind that Prayer Plants aren’t known for being especially fond of aquatic growth. There are a lot of other plants that will do much, much better.
LECA is also a great middle-ground between soil and hydroponics. Slowly transitioning is an easy way to mitigate how expensive a complete switch can be. This also gives you a chance to learn the differences so that your plants can thrive in their new environments. There is a lot of buzz about LECA in some online houseplant communities, so there are plenty of resources to help you along.