The origin of this rhizomatous perennial plant with persistent foliage is in the tropical zone of Latin America and the Antilles. It is also called the praying or sleeping plant, because of its leaves that spread out during the day and stand upright at night.
The success of this indoor plant is due to its particularly ornamental foliage, as one could believe that each leaf has been painted by hand: dark green, light green with silver or pink lines fanning out from the central vein. There are 5 to 6 leaves of 8 to 12 cm long, elliptical with a blunt tip, which develop annually on each plant.
Why do prayer plants move?
If their stems remain short, their petioles are long and stiff, they carry a broad, oval to elongated blade, sometimes harmoniously spotted. A small bulge at the base of the petiole allows the leaf to bend or stand up, as in calatheas, but even more obviously. This is what gave the name of prayer plant or sleeper to the prayer plant zebrina.
This type of movement is caused by a hinge-like structure at the base of the leaf. Called pulvinus, it is filled with water during the day, but drains at night, so that the lack of turgidity of this organ causes the leaf to fold.
Scientists don’t yet know why the plants do this, but perhaps it helps reduce sweating while the leaf is “asleep.”
Why is the prayer plant called like that?
The maranta (prayer plant) is named after Bartolomeo Maranta (1500-1571), an Italian physician, botanist and professor of comparative literature.
One of its nicknames is “plant of the ten commandments”, which evokes the ten dark green spots on the leaf of the Kerchoveana. But its most beautiful name is undoubtedly the “prayer plant”, because of its leaves which start to move in the evening, when the night falls, by straightening.
They close by themselves, like hands at the time of the prayer. A beautiful moment to reflect and express gratitude for the day before going to sleep!
Why won’t my prayer plant stand up?
The reason why the prayer plant stands up at night is that it (normally) gets waterlogged during the day and drains at night. We understand that if the plant has not accumulated enough water during the day, it will be complicated for it to stand up since it will have nothing to drain.
The most logical reason would be to check its water supply during the day, the prayer plant appreciates copious and regular waterings (2 to 3 times/week) during the beautiful season, with water at room temperature and if possible not calcareous (rain water or softened).
The soil must be kept slightly humid at all times. A substrate that is too dry will cause the leaves to sag and turn yellow. A too wet substrate causes brown spots on the leaves and can even rot the roots.
Increase the humidity by placing the pot on a tray of moistened clay balls. Follow up with daily sprays of the leaves to keep them fresh and shiny and to keep them dust-free. A plant that suffers from drought can be recognized by the browned edges of its leaves.
From October onwards, reduce watering to once a week and stop spraying unless the central heating system dries out the air in the room.
Why do Prayer plants curl up?
Prayer plant leaves that curl up are the result of an atmosphere that is too cold in 90% of cases. It is important to check the room temperature.
Native to the rainforests, it likes warmth, humidity and a subdued light exposure without direct sun growing in the shelter of large trees in the wild. The ideal temperature of culture is between 64°F to 72°F.