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Why is My Prayer Plant Leaves Curling? Causes & How to Fix

Prayer plants are unique in their ways. They naturally fold leaves inwards at night and unfold them just after dusk. However, sometimes the leaves will refuse to open or seem to remain praying unusually the whole day. Your prayer plants are communicating they may have issues needed to fix. If you don’t act promptly to save them in time, your plants would fail to revive.

Here is why prayer plant leaves curl inwards or outwardly plus other signs to expect. Also, get the right tips on what care and maintenance practices can fix the problem and when to do it.

Reasons For Prayer Plant Curling Leaves

The curling of prayer plant leaves is more of a problem that signifies something not working, unfavorable conditions or bad neglect.

1) Uneven Watering & Low RH

These two factors go hand in hand since they are both crucial for houseplants’ healthy growth. Prayer plants are thin-leaved houseplants. They need sufficient drinking. This doesn’t pave way for too much or infrequent watering.

During the summer, thin blade-leaved houseplants transpire a bit faster especially if you live along the tropics. As such, you may require to water them more regularly.

Prayer plants require high relative humidity (RH) and moist soil.

If you accidentally waterlog your houseplant vessel. Lack of both sufficient air and soil moisture can disrupt physiological processes. Signs to look out for include:

  • Browning leaves with spots on tips
  • Prayer Plant leaves curling up will signify Low Air Humidity

2) Unchecked Indoor Temperature

Like many other plant families, Prayer Plants will respond to drastic temperature changes. More so, when these changes happen so suddenly or unexpectedly and to the extremes.

Prayer plants of the Marantaceae family prefer tropical temperatures ranging from 65 °F to 75 °F. Levels of temperatures outside this range can cause problems. Over 75 °F and the leaves will turn dark due to the burning. And temperatures under 55 °F, the leaves will start shrinking while turning brown.

3) Direct Sunlight or Heat Radiation

Indirect but bright light is the optimum environment for prayer-plants to grow well indoors. However, exposing these herbaceous plants to direct light would stress them. The duration and intensity of light exposure can be signified by:

  • Plant leaves curling up (inwardly)
  • Faded or bleached leaves that appear scorched
  • Development of brown blotches (see picture)
Intense heat and rising temperature can cause drooping and abnormal curly leaves
Outwardly curled leaves of potted prayer plants

Ultimately, this will cause damage to larger areas of the leaves. The plant may sometimes fail to revive even with all appropriate applications of corrective measures.

4) Overfeeder Fertilizer

Prayer plants are well-adapted to neutral soils but love acidic soil pH. Regular feedings are known to benefit houseplants. However, over-fertilizing can stress them.

Often, dry, brown leaf edges are closely linked to overfeeding your houseplants with fertilizers. And this can go along with prompting leaves curling up. Other signs that your Prayer Plants have high-concentration fertilizer include:

  • Presence of a whitish crust on the potted plant’s topsoil
  • Stunted growth
  • Lower and older leaves falling off
  • Burnt leaf tips
Maranta houseplant problems
Burnt leaf tips of a Maranta plant

5) Insect Damage

After significant physical pest damage, the leaves of your houseplant will start curling. Prayer plants are prone to spider mites and mealybugs attacks. Aphids are also common.

Signs to help spot mealybugs:

  • White spots on leaves
  • Yellowing of leaves and drooping

This is how you can spot spider mites:

  • Tiny white or yellow spots
  • Web lines on the areas of leaf not exposed
  • Little tiny creatures moving about leaf surfaces

Mealybugs and spider mites are very likely to invade during the drier and less humid winter months.

Infestation is likely to occur if these pests are not controlled early. Mealybug infestation on prayer plants presents itself as a white sticky substance. After an infestation has occurred, prayer plants lose sap together with nutrients. Foliar damage occurs with every piercing and sucking of the juice. As a result, they quite lose turgidity and leaves may curl.

Prayer Plant Leaves Curling & Turning Brown

Besides Maranta leaves curling, sometimes they can turn brown or start to tan. And here is why.

Dry Soil + Deficit in Humidity

Drooping and curling in potted indoor prayer plant with dry leaftips
Droopy, curly prayer plant leaves

Underwatering is like a bad disease to unique prayer plants. Besides curling the plant leaves, they may turn brown. As highlighted earlier, low air humidity will result in dry leaf tips.

According to the UKHouseplants, juvenile specimens that lack a sufficient rhizome system are most likely to be hard hit.

Unfriendly Compounds in Water Source

Impurities can contribute to browning in the leaves of houseplants. For instance, copper concentrations in soil can cause the bleaching of plant leaves. As a result, plant leaves can curl back.

How to Revive Prayer Plant’s Curling Leaves

Here is how you can help houseplants experiencing the above problem can revive. Here is our how-to approach.

Curative Watering & Humidifying

Throughout the dry period, continue watering regularly to maintain or help elevate relative humidity levels. One is by observing the watering routine. Water once every 1 – 2 weeks accordingly.

Prayer plant care
Watering a Maranta houseplant

Two, sprinkle your prayer plants with rainwater at room temperature. Chemically filtered or distilled water is another good option. Avoid tap water because they contain impurities like chlorine, minerals, and other salts.

Gardeners can create a more humid environment of 40 – 60 % relative humidity. Here’s how:

A Benefit your Prayer Plant by making them companions of other houseplants. Place them nearer plants such as the peace lily, corn plant, English ivy, jade plant, spider plant, and dwarf date palm.

B Using a fine-droplet sprayer to mist the leaves every morning only. Go for rain or distilled water at room temperature.

C Place a shallow water-filled pan with a layer of stones underneath leaves. Avoid leaves from touching the water in the pan.

D Placing your Maranta houseplants on a pebble tray. Unless you are misting, always prevent water and the leaves from making direct contact.

Feeding your Houseplant + When and How to Apply

All Prayer Plants that belong to different genera have the same fertilizer-feeding requirements. Light feeder fertilizers are recommended. Factors to consider for optimal fertilizer feeding are things like soil moisture, fertilizer ratio, and(time factor) when to apply. Apply once a month during the spring, summer, and early autumn.  

Many plant fertilizers contain essential nutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). In terms of fertilizer ratio, a more balanced N:P: K ratio is preferable. This is because Prayer Plants rarely have a dormant stage of growth.

So, fertilizers with ratios say, 10:10:10 will provide the minerals for the plants to thrive. Additionally, avoid organic fertilizers labeled fish meal or blood meal.

Where to Locate your Prayer Plants

Changes in relative humidity and light change with every season. This may call for attention. Either reposition your Prayer plants or move them to another location. The aim is to make sure your houseplants receive the indirect light required. At the same time avoid keeping the nearer heaters and air conditioners.

How to Keep Pests/Insects at Bay

You may be satisfied to have done proper watering and lighting. Always be vigilant and inspect your houseplants.

Mealybugs: Start by giving the leaves good clean water sweeping. Then apply neem oil every week to stop them from multiplying. If infestation is low, wiping the leaves with alcohol will be quite effective. Lastly, try applying a soil drench.

Spider Mites: Wipe off with a damp cloth once you notice such pest signs. High humidity is not favorable for the spider mites to thrive. You can mist your plants or turn on a humidifier, especially during the summer. Since they can crawl and move, try isolating the healthy plants. Spider mites can also be controlled by using a pesticide or neem oil.

Enhance Plant Post-curling Repair

After successful treatment or control of mealybugs and spider mites, apply an appropriate home remedy. Remove severely damaged foliage by trimming. Cut out bad injuries on leaves, and stems and throw them far away. Ensure you use sharp scissors.

Remember to repot in the spring after your Prayer Plant has grown new foliage. Be patient until it has recovered from drooping.

Sources and References

  1. Growing Indoor Plants with Success. The University of Georgia Extension. https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1318&title=Growing%20Indoor%20Plants%20with%20Success. Accessed online 30 September 2021
  2. Maranta leuconeura. University of Florida, Cooperative Extension Service. http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/shrub_fact_sheets/marleua.pdf. Accessed online 30 September 2021
  3. Prayer Plant. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/plant/prayer-plant. Accessed on 30 September 2021
  4. Houseplant Varieties for Low Light. Summer Winds Nursery. https://www.summerwindsnursery.com/ca/plants/houseplants/low-light/. Accessed on 30, Jan 2023

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