Prayer Plant, aka Maranta Leuconeura, attracts many people with its intricately patterned leaves and charming habit of noticeably changing position throughout the day in reaction to sunlight. Once you have successfully raised a Prayer Plant for a while, you may notice that parts of the plant are no longer as upright as when you first got it.
If your Prayer Plant is growing sideways or is about to topple over, there are several possible explanations. The most likely is that the Prayer Plant is growing in its natural spreading pattern. However, if the plant shows other symptoms like limp leaves or soft stems, it is probably a sign of a problem with watering or light.
Prayer Plants can be demanding about their care and conditions, and one way they show that something is not right is by drooping to one side of the pot. It can be alarming to see your plant growing to one side or falling over, but this article should help you determine what’s going on and help you know how to fix it.
What to Expect from a Healthy Maranta Leuconeura
Before you try to diagnose a problem in your Prayer Plant, it is important to verify that there actually is a problem. Most people purchase a Prayer Plant from a nursery that is still immature and most likely originated as a stem cutting from another plant. Marantas tend to be sold centered in the nursery pot with several stems of just a few leaves each.
However, as this plant grows, it doesn’t get much taller or grow larger leaves. Instead, once it reaches a height of about 10 inches, it spreads in a vining growth pattern. For people who own other plants in the Marantaceae family, like Calatheas and Stromanthe, this can be surprising as these plants always grow upright.
But Marantas grow multiple nodes and leaves on the same stem. Once those stems get heavy enough, they will start to spill over the sides of the pot. If the Prayer Plant otherwise looks healthy, this is simply a feature of the plant and should not cause concern.
Here are some traits of a healthy Prayer Plant:
New growth. Maranta Leuconeura puts out significant new growth during the spring and summer growing seasons, and the unfurling of a healthy new leaf is a sign that your Maranta is content.
Firm stems and deeply-colored leaves. This plant should have bold leaves that are mostly uniform (newly opened leaves will be lighter) with minimal brown or yellow spots. The stems should be firm, not limp.
Moving leaves. A healthy Maranta moves a lot throughout the day. If you have a hard time telling if your plant’s leaves are moving, try taking a photo at midday and another in the late evening to compare. You should see a significant difference in the leaf positions between the two.
Reasons Why Your Prayer Plant is Growing Sideways or Falling Over
There are three main causes for a Prayer Plant that is growing sideways or falling over. Read below to determine the cause and the solution for your specific Prayer Plant.
Legginess. Even if you haven’t heard the term “leggy” before, you can probably envision what it means. Instead of compact growth, there is a lot of stem in between the leaves, and the plant can start to look scraggly or messy.
Solution: Plants get leggy because they are not getting enough light. By growing longer stems, they try to stretch their leaves toward the light source. If this is your plant’s problem, you will probably see all the growth concentrated on the side of the pot that faces toward the window.
Move your Prayer Plant closer to the window, or provide a grow light if that isn’t an option. Marantas do not like direct light, but they are not suitable for really dark locations. Consider this a medium-light plant that likes a bright but shaded place.
If your Maranta is leggy, you can cut off the long stem and use it to propagate a new plant. This is a great way to make a pot look fuller, as you can use your cutting to fill in sparse areas in the pot.
Unbalanced growth. If your Prayer Plant is concentrating its growth in one area, it can get heavy on that side and be in danger of falling over.
Solution: This is a simple one – rotate! Plants naturally grow toward the light even if they are in a sufficiently bright spot. Since most of our plants are getting sunlight from a single window, there may be a lot more growth on one side of the pot. Rotate your plants occasionally (every few months is sufficient) to keep growth even, or turn the side with fewer leaves toward the window to balance out the plant.
Drooping stems and leaves. If your Prayer Plant’s stems or leaves are drooping, this will cause them to lose their rigidity, and parts of the plant can fall over.
Solution: Drooping stems and leaves are most often the result of overwatering (although not always). If you suspect you have given your plant too much water, hold off on watering until it has had a chance to dry out. It should return to normal if this was the issue. Cut off any parts of the plant that are discolored; they will not recover.
If you are sure that overwatering isn’t the cause, look at the possibilities of underwatering, too much direct sun, or pests. All of these could potentially cause drooping leaves in a Prayer Plant.
Should You Stake a Prayer Plant?
If your Prayer Plant is healthy but starting to grow sideways, you might be wondering if this plant likes to grow on a trellis or moss pole. A look at their natural habitat gives us a clue – they grow in clumps on the forest floor.
Staking a Maranta Leuconeura won’t damage it, but it won’t help it either. Some other house plants such as Monsteras and Epipremnum (Pothos) are naturally epiphytic, meaning they climb trees. These tend to benefit from having some support and grow larger and healthier in this condition. Marantas don’t climb and will never attach themselves to a moss pole the way climbing plants do.
That said, if you like the look of a staked Prayer Plant, you can certainly do it. Most people prefer the graceful trailing habit and leave them to grow that way, but growing Marantas on a support can also create a striking and unique plant.
For great ways to display a Prayer Plant, check out this article: Can You Hang, Vine, or Trail a Prayer Plant? Tips for Displaying Your Maranta.
Growing Healthy Prayer Plants
Marantas have a reputation for being one of the trickier plants to raise, so it is best to decide if you are willing to cater to this plant to keep it looking good. The primary considerations for Prayer Plants are water, light, and humidity.
Watering your Prayer Plant correctly is the single most important part of keeping it looking good. These plants do not like to dry out, but they are also sensitive to too much water. Their soil should be kept moist but not wet. Water when the top 1 to 2 inches feels dry, and be sure to adjust your watering schedule for the season.
Maranta Leuconeura will burn and wilt if put in direct sun, and it is also sensitive to extremes in temperature. A windowsill that faces north or east works well, or it can be in a brighter room if it is located a few feet back from the window. Be sure to keep it away from cold drafts, as those cause Prayer Plant leaves to curl in and shrivel up. Normal household temperatures work well.
Finally, Marantas like high humidity. They come from tropical rainforests where they’d be in a misty environment with regular rainfall. Indoors, you can try to increase the humidity around your Prayer Plant by using a humidifier or a pebble tray. Grouping plants together also increases the amount of moisture in the air.
Although it can seem to be a daunting plant to grow, Maranta Leuconeura is a beautiful specimen that rewards you with rapid growth and easy propagation. A Prayer Plant that is growing sideways or falling over may be exhibiting the plant’s natural growth, but it could be a reaction to imperfect conditions. Once you know the cause, you can remedy it and get your plant back to health!