The ever-popular Prayer Plant, scientifically known as the Maranta leuconeura, can go from looking happy and healthy to looking droopy and sad in no time. But why in the world does this happen? These Brazillian natives thrive in humid, moist conditions with plenty of rainfall and sun. While it may be challenging to mimic their natural environment indoors, doing so can go a long way towards perking up your otherwise droopy Prayer Plant.
Droopy Prayer Plants are often caused by a combination of low humidity, too dry or too wet soil, or too much sunlight. Any one of these variables can result in a Prayer Plant that looks wilted, shriveled, and sad. Because they are tropical plants, Prayer Plants prefer humid conditions, evenly moist soil, and bright, indirect sunlight.
If you have a droopy prayer plant, don’t worry. This article will discuss the most common causes of unhappy Marantas and what you can do to address them. Many of the problems that can cause a Prayer Plant to droop are easily fixed and little to no supplies.
The Top Reasons Why Prayer Plants Droop, Wilt, and Look Sad
Like other houseplants, Marantas will start to look under the weather if their needs aren’t being met. Sometimes this is simple to solve, like adjusting sunlight or water, while other issues are a bit more complicated.
But diagnosing your Prayer Plant’s problems isn’t difficult. This article will help you identify the most common issues and guide you through the steps you need to take to perk your plant back up. Humidity and water problems are arguably the biggest causes of a droopy plant, so keep reading to find out what you can do to help your Prayer Plant thrive.
Reason 1: Your Prayer Plant Doesn’t Have Enough Humidity
Prayer Plants require a lot of humidity. They’re natives of Brazil, where they creep along the forest floor, and they prefer conditions that are moist, warm, and humid. One of the most common reasons that a Prayer Plant is floppy or drooping is that it doesn’t have enough humidity. This can be a big problem for those of us living in the desert or other arid regions where humidity is scarce.
Before you stop what you’re doing right now and immediately add more humidity to your Prayer Plant, read all the way through this article. Cross off any other potential problems, like light or watering issues, before diagnosing humidity as the source of your floppy Prayer Plant. If, after that, you’re confident that your Prayer Plant does need more humidity, there are a few easy steps you can take.
First, make a small investment to purchase a hygrometer (like this one). These devices measure the relative humidity of a room and display it, along with the temperature, on a small screen similar to a thermostat. While there isn’t a magic percentage, keeping a Prayer Plant around or above 50% humidity is a good goal.
Then use your hygrometer to find rooms in your home with higher humidity levels (start with bathrooms, kitchens, and well-lit basements) and relocate your plant to a new, more humid spot. Once your plant has been relocated to an area with more humidity, it will start to perk back up.
If you have an extremely dry home, or live in an area with very low humidity, consider purchasing a humidifier. Humidifiers come in various sizes, designs, and price points and are hands-down the best way to raise the humidity levels around your houseplants. If you want to read more about the humidifiers I use and love, check out this article.
Reason 2: Your Prayer Plant Doesn’t Have Enough Water
A dry Prayer Plant is a sad, droopy Prayer Plant. Because these are tropical plants, they require evenly moist soil. If they’re allowed to dry out too much, the plant will become stressed and may droop, wilt, or shrivel. But there’s good news! Usually, a quick drink of water is all your plant will need to stand up tall again.
If you think underwatering is your issue, test the soil by inserting your finger and feeling for moisture. If the first inch or so of soil is dry, it’s time to water your Prayer Plant. If it’s bone dry all the way through, you’ve gone too long between waterings.
If regularly watering your plants is something you struggle with, make an effort to test the soil often. Testing your Prayer Plant’s soil will help you learn its schedule and develop good watering habits. If you don’t feel comfortable relying on your finger alone to determine if your Prayer Plant is dry, a moisture meter is another good investment to make for the health of your plants.
When it is time to water your Prayer Plant, water it thoroughly until about 25% of what you put in runs out through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Don’t allow it to sit in standing water, though. This will lead to soggy roots and encourage root rot – which is the next most common cause of droopy houseplants.
Reason 3: Your Prayer Plant Has Too Much Water
Strange as it may seem, the same output can come from the exact opposite input. Just like underwatering your plants can cause them to droop, overwatering will have the same effect.
This happens because overwatering damages the root system of your plant. When roots are damaged, they cannot function properly, meaning that they cannot absorb and send out water to the rest of the plant. The result of this looks identical to underwatering.
To tell which watering issue is causing your problem, check the soil. Insert your finger into the top inch of soil and see if it’s wet or damp. If so, overwatering is more likely the cause. If the soil is bone dry, underwatering is more likely. Also, if you add more water to your plant and it runs straight through the soil and out the bottom very quickly, it is more likely that you’ve underwatered your Prayer Plant.
Unfortunately, overwatering is much harder to remedy than underwatering. If your plant is drooping because it has been too wet for too long, there is a strong possibility that the roots have begun to rot and will need to be pruned back before it will get better.
To remedy this, remove your plant from its container and let it dry out on a baking sheet. This will speed up the drying process and allow you to get back to usual (with adjusted watering habits) more quickly. If you find your plant has root rot, prune any root that is not white, crisp, and healthy before repotting in new soil in a new container.
Reason 4: Your Prayer Plant Is Getting Too Much Harsh Sunlight
Prayer Plants can be fussy when it comes to how much sun they need. The official rule of thumb is that a Maranta should never be in direct sun but should be exposed to bright, indirect light for six or more hours each day.
If your Prayer Plant is droopy, wilted, or has brown leaves, try monitoring how much sun it gets. While it won’t instantly roll up and die with exposure to direct sun, too harsh or too much exposure to light will cause your plant to fade and wilt. If this happens, the leaves will lose the colorful patterns and turn brown at the tips.
If you suspect that too much sun is what’s bothering your Prayer Plant, move it further from the window or place it in an area where the light is filtered (like through a sheer curtain). After moving your plant, continue to provide it its usual care and see if it improves.
You should know that a Prayer Plant that isn’t getting enough sun will also suffer, but it usually won’t look wilted. Prayer Plants that need more light will fail to put out new growth regularly and may look discolored. If you suspect this is the problem, try gradually introducing it to more indirect sunlight.
Reason 5: You’re Using Tap Water to Water Your Prayer Plant
This isn’t something that many people think of when they notice their plant is drooping, but the type of water you use on your plants can have an impact. Tap water is often hard water and results in a buildup of excess minerals in your plant’s pot. This can burn the roots, similar to over-fertilizing, and prevent them from absorbing water and nutrients.
Hard water has high levels of dissolved solids, like calcium and magnesium, and is a common issue for anyone using municipal water and individuals using wells in some regions. One of the first indications that your plant is suffering from hard water is a white powder along the pot’s rim. This is actually a buildup of calcium!
The easiest way to address this is to collect rainwater for your plants. This is best done by setting out a clean bucket or container anywhere that water drains from a roof. You may notice plant matter, roofing material, and other debris in the container. This isn’t an issue: just let the water settle, and the debris can be strained out.
Alternatively, distilled water can be used to water a Prayer Plant. While not as great as rainwater, distilled is a better option than tap water. Also, to mimic the distillation process at home, fill up your watering can and leave it out on the counter for 24 hours. In this time, many of the harsh chemicals in the tap water will evaporate out and leave you with cleaner water to use on your Prayer Plants.
Keeping Your Plant Healthy in the Future
The easiest way to keep your Prayer Plant from looking sad is to give it the care it needs. This is easier said than done, however. Prayer Plants are often considered finicky plants, which makes new plant owners wary of keeping them.
Prayer Plants are tropical plants, so a lot of their care is similar to other tropicals. When it comes to sunlight, they can tolerate a range of conditions, but the general consensus is that Prayer Plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. However, there are examples of these plants surviving in more or less sunlight.
For water, Prayer Plants like to be moist. They should not be allowed to completely dry out between waterings. This is stressful for the plant and can result in a reduction in its overall growth. As a general rule, water a Prayer Plant when the top inch of soil is dry. When watering, water thoroughly and pour out any excess that accumulates in its tray.
Humidity is one of the most critical components of Prayer Plant care. Many of the issues that Prayer Plants face stem from not having enough humidity. That’s why these plants thrive in well-lit bathrooms and kitchens.
Now that you know the most common causes for droopy Marantas, it’s time to investigate! Start by checking the soil for under or overwatering and then move on to adjusting humidity levels, water type, and sunlight. With a bit of detective work on your part, you’ll soon be on your way to giving your Prayer Plant what it needs to thrive.