With their distinctive striped leaves and unique habit of folding up at night, prayer plants are popular and attractive houseplants. Their botanical name is Maranta leuconeura. These tropical perennials are fairly easy to care for, and propagate well – allowing you to make more plants for free! Here’s a step-by-step guide to propagating prayer plants through division, cuttings and rhizome separation.
When to Propagate Prayer Plants
Prayer plants can be propagated during the growing season from spring to fall when soil temperatures are warm, generally above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The best times are:
- Early spring after the plant resumes growth
- Midsummer when the plant is vigorously growing
- Late summer to early fall before going dormant
- Avoid propagating in the winter when the plant is dormant.
Propagate Prayer Plants by Division
Division is the easiest method for propagating prayer plants. Here’s how:
Select a Mature, Healthy Parent Plant
Choose an established prayer plant that’s a few years old and showing vigorous growth. Pick one that is slightly rootbound.
Water the Plant Well
Water the plant thoroughly a day before you plan to divide it. This makes removal from the pot easier and reduces transplant shock.
Remove the Plant and Divide the Rootball
Turn the plant on its side and gently slide it out of its pot. Carefully tease the rootball apart with your hands, dividing it into smaller sections.
Prepare Individual Sections
Untangle and trim any long roots on each new division. Make sure each section has 3-5 healthy stems with intact roots.
Pot the Divided Sections
Plant each divided section individually into its own pot with well-draining potting soil. Water well.
Provide Ideal Conditions
Keep freshly divided plants warm, humid, and shaded for 1-2 weeks until the transplant shock passes. Then resume normal care.
Propagate Prayer Plants by Stem Cuttings
You can also propagate prayer plants from tip cuttings:
Select a Healthy Stem : Find a vigorous stem that hasn’t flowered yet, as flowering temporarily halts growth. Choose one around 4 inches long.
Snip Off the Stem : Use sterilized, sharp pruners to cut off the stem just below a leaf node. Remove the bottom 2 leaves.
Dip in Rooting Hormone : Dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone powder or gel to stimulate root growth.
Plant in Media : Plant the cutting in a small pot filled with seed starting mix. Cover with a plastic bag to create humidity.
Provide Warmth and Humidity : Place the potted cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil consistently moist. Maintain high humidity around the cutting.
Transplant when Rooted : In 4-8 weeks, the cutting should have new roots. Acclimate it slowly to lower humidity levels before fully transplanting.
Propagating by Rhizome Division
The rhizomes (underground stems) of prayer plants can also be divided:
- Turn the pot on its side, gently removing the entire plant. Shake off excess soil from the roots.
- Find the thick, knobby rhizomes amidst the roots. They look like tubers or enlarged stems.
- Carefully separate the rhizomes from each other by cutting them with a sterilized knife. Make sure each section has some roots.
- Place cut rhizome sections on a dry surface for 2-3 days until callouses form over the cuts.
- Plant each rhizome section in its own pot, covering with 1 inch of soil. Water sparingly until new growth emerges.
- Once new leaves unfurl, treat the newly potted plants like mature prayer plants. Provide good light and humidity.
With all these propagation methods, you’ll soon have an abundance of prayer plants to adorn indoors or give as gifts. Just be patient – it may take a season or two for new plants to reach full size. But propagating your own specimens is very rewarding!