How to Propagate Prayer Plants (Maranta)

Prayer Plants are beautiful houseplants known for their moving leaves that mimic a praying pose. In fact, this is where they get their name. So, if you happen to own one of these plants, it is a good idea to propagate them at some time during their lives.

How do you propagate Prayer Plants? Prayer Plants can be propagated by stem cuttings, seed or division. For home growers stem cuttings are the most popular method.

And it allows you to do so via water propagation, in soil, in sphagnum moss or even LECA (clay balls).

Because there are many different ways to propagate prayer plants, it is a good idea to try each of the methods to get an idea of which one you prefer doing. In this article, I’ll explain each in detail.

How to Propagate Prayer Plants

When propagating prayer plants, it is important to specify which kind of prayer plant.

The reason this is important is because prayer plants are a group of different plant genera. They are all grouped together because their leaves all feature the motion of opening in the daytime and closing in the nighttime. And in the process look like they are in a praying pose.

Therefore, when propagating prayer plants it is important to separate the plants, usually by their genus.

For example, Maranta are what you would call the “true” prayer plants. These are all propagated the same way.

You can propagate them by:

  • Cuttings rooted in water (water propagation)
  • Cuttings rooted in soil (soil propagation)
  • Growing from seed (seed propagation)
  • By root division

On the other hand, you have other genera that are considered prayer plants as well. These include Calathea and Stromanthe.

Both take more work at least initially because you cannot propagate them from stem cuttings. Instead, the best way to grow new Calathea and Stromanthe plants is by root division.

In this article, I will focus on Maranta Prayer Plant propagation only.

Here’s how to do it step by step.

 

How to Propagate Prayer Plants from Stem Cuttings (Marantas)

Stem cuttings is the easiest way to propagate Maranta Prayer Plants. All you need to do is take healthy stem cuttings.

You can take one or more depending on how many plants you want to grow or you’re just starting out and learning, so you have a couple or so for backup.

The best things about propagating Prayer Plants from stem cuttings is that it is easy to do, they root quickly, and it has a high success rate.

Also, you have many different options on how to root the stem cuttings. You can root stem cuttings in:

  • Water
  • Soil
  • Sphagnum moss
  • LECA

Below, I’ll go through each of the methods step by step.

 

Propagating Maranta Prayer Plant in Water

Propagating Maranta Prayer Plants in water is the most popular way of doing things for home growers. That’s because it is straightforward and easy.

Just as importantly, you’ll be able to see the roots as they grow through the glass. This lets you know if there is something wrong early. Or if you need to modify anything.

To begin, here are the tools you’ll need:

  • A healthy Maranta Prayer Plant (never propagate your plant when it is sick or stressed)
  • A cutting tool (you can use scissors, pruning shears or a knife)
  • Glass container
  • Water
  • Plastic bag

 

Take a Stem Cutting

Begin by taking a stem cutting.

Choose a healthy stem with at least a few leaves on it. You’ll want to get a cutting that is about 4 to 6 inches long. This will make it easier to put it in water.

Avoid very short or very long cuttings.

The most important thing when taking Maranta Stem cuttings it to make sure that the cutting has at least one node. If you can get a cutting with 2 or 3 nodes, that will work well too.

Nodes are the small bumps in the stems where new leaves grow. During propagation, these are where roots will emerge from.

As such, it is vital to have at least one node for each cutting you want to propagate.

Cuttings with no nodes will never grow into new plants. So, they’re a waste of time

To make the stem cutting, cut about an inch below the node. This way you include the node with the cutting. Ideally, you want to make a clean 45-degree angle cut.

The angle will increase the surface area of the cut end of the stem.

 

Apply Rooting Hormone

This step is optional but I’ll include it anyway.

Rooting hormone is made from one or more of the plant’s natural growth hormones. You can find it in stores in various forms.

The goal of rooting hormone is to help the cutting root faster. I’ve found that this helps and also sems to increase the propagate success rates (at least according to my experiments).

That said, even without rooting hormone, stem cuttings tend to yield high propagation success.

Apply rooting hormone to the cut end of the stem. This is why you cut it at a 45-degree angle so there will be more surface area for the rooting hormone.

 

Place the Stem in Water

Now it is time to place the cutting in water.

You can use any container you want. Some people use test tubes, others use mason jars.

The key is to make sure that the cutting is partially submerged (with the nodes underwater) while the top part with leaves is above water.

Also, make sure the container you use will be able to hold the stem cuttings and not just let then slide in and sink into the liquid.

I like to use some kind of glass container for water propagation as this will let you see the roots as they grow. However, this is optional as any container will work.

Once you have the container, remove any leaves at the bottom of the stem.

You don’t want any leaves submerged into the water. But leave a few leaves on top above the liquid as they will assist with photosynthesis.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the nodes are submerged in water. They need to be in order to root.

 

Cover the Cutting with a Plastic Bag

Once you have the cutting in the water, you’re almost done.

To speed up the growth (and improve propagation success), you can cove the plant with a plastic bag.

Depending on how big your jar is, you may get a small or bigger bag.

The purpose of the plastic bag is to act like a mini greenhouse. Primarily, it is to increase humidity by trapping the moisture that evaporates.

Maranta like humid conditions and this especially helps in the initial growth stages.

That said, the plastic bag is optional, especially if you have good humidity and a warm location in your house. Thus, you can do without the plastic bag.

 

Related

 

Wait

Now it is time to wait.

It takes about 2 to 4 weeks for your stem cutting to root. How fast it does will depend on its living conditions. The more ideal the conditions, the faster it will grow.

Thus, you want to provide it with:

  • Medium to bright, indirect light
  • Moderate to slightly warm temperature
  • Moderate to high humidity

Also, make sure to change the water,

Often, you only need to change the water about once a week. However, you’ll need to do so more often with smaller containers.

The goal is to avoid letting the water get cloudy or mucky. So, once you see some cloudiness in the liquid, change it. This will prevent pathogens from developing.

 

Move the Cutting to Soil

The waiting time above will depend on how quickly the roots grow.

And you want to wait for them to grow to at least 1-2 inches before you take them out of the water. Thus, this usually takes closer to 1 month, sometimes 3 weeks is enough if they root quickly.

You can likewise wait longer and let more roots.

I know some growers who like to leave the plant in water for a few months which is fine as well. However, I don’t like leaving it there for too long.

One year is usually excessive and that’s when root rot starts happening. Six months is likewise a long time, although there won’t be rotting symptoms yet.

That said, once the roots grow to 1 to 2 inches you can move the to soil.

To do so:

  • Prepare a small pot and fill it with potting mix.
  • Use your fingers to “drill” a small hole into the soil for the plant.
  • Then place the plant into the soil carefully.
  • Adjust the soil to keep the plant upright and stable.

Next water the soil and keep it moist. Avoid overwatering as this will cause problems.

Once again, you can cover the new plant with a plastic bag if your home does not get good humidity.

 

How to Propagate Prayer Plant Maranta in Soil

Another way to propagate your Maranta Prayer Plant stem cuttings is to do it in soil.

This is very similar to propagating in water. But the main difference is that you skip the part where you put the cuttings in water.

Instead, you directly plant the stem cuttings into potting mix.

The downside to propagating in soil is that you don’t see the plant growing as you do in water. Therefore, there’s no initial gratification or feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment.

However, its main benefit is you don’t need to root the cuttings in water then move it to soil. The transfer process can sometimes mess up a healthy rooted cutting and make the propagation process fail.

To propagate your stem cutting in soil:

  • Dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
  • Then plant the cutting into well-draining potting mix.

For the most part propagating in soil is used to grow new prayer plants. However, you can likewise use it to supplement your mother plant if you want to make it fuller.

To do so, instead of planting the cuttings into their own pot or pots, plant them into the soil of the mother plant. As they grow, they will make the original plant look bushier.

This works since the cuttings will turn out to be clones of the parent. So, it will look alike.

Once you’ve planted the cutting in soil, water the soil to keep it moist.

It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for the roots to develop.

Thus, keep the plant under medium to bright, indirect light, moderate temperature and good humidity.

 

Rooting a Prayer Plant in Sphagnum Moss

Rooting your prayer plant in sphagnum moss is likewise another option. And it is just the same with propagating in soil. At least the process is.

The difference between the two is you’ll be using sphagnum moss instead of soil as the growing medium.

Therefore, take a stem cutting and dip the cut end in rooting hormone.

I like to prepare the sphagnum moss before planting the cutting. To do so, soak the sphagnum moss in water. Then squeeze out all the moisture afterwards.

You can likewise add perlite to the mix if you want to increase chunkiness and drainage. However, you can also use 100% sphagnum moss as well.

The next step is to plant the cutting into the sphagnum moss. Keep the moss moist.

Again, maintain ideal growing conditions. You can likewise cover the plant with a plastic bag if your home does not have good humidity.

 

How to Propagate Maranta in LECA

I’ve been experimenting with this method lately and have been very happy with the results.

I especially like that the roots that grow in LECA seem to be thicker and stronger compared to those that develop in water.

So I’ll explain everything from the beginning.

LECA are basically clay balls. You can get them from your local nursery.

And they are another growing medium just like soil, peat moss and perlite are. But the difference is that they are solid balls instead of the soil-like texture.

The advantage of LECA is that the clay will absorb water to give the plant moisture. But it also helps prevent overwatering because you don’t need to wet the roots when you water. The clay balls keep the roots hydrated.

Additionally, all you need to do is add more water then the liquid gets depleted.

Here’s how to propagate Maranta Prayer Plants in LECA.

  • Get a container. I like to use glass so I can see the LECA, the roots and the water.
  • Place a few LECA balls into the container. This will be the base the bottom of the cuttings.
  • Then place the cutting and add more LECA to keep the plant upright and in place.
  • Finally, add water. Water until the lower part of the stem is submerged but keep the water line just below the node. This is the key.

You don’t want the nodes to be submerged in water since the LECA will absorb the moisture and keep the cuttings hydrated. This will allow the roots to grow thicker and stronger compared to being rooted in water.

Once the roots grow to about 1 to 2 inches or longer, you can move the cutting into soil.

 

Propagating Prayer Plant from Seed

Propagating from seed is the most common way commercial operations grow new plants.

That’s because it allows them to scale the operations and produce lots of new Prayer Plants at the same time. Since the method is similar it gives them economies of scale which make it more affordable as well.

Of course, this also allows them to have more new plants to see in their stores to customers.

For home growers, propagating from seeds is not ideal because it takes more time, effort and has more problems.

You’ll need to start from the seeds, germinate them and then take care for the seedlings.

 

How to Propagate Prayer Plants by Division

Finally, there’s propagation by division.

As far as prayer plants go, propagation by division is usually done for Calatheas, Stromanthes, and Ctenanthes. These prayer plants cannot be propagated from stem or leaf cuttings.

So instead, you need to divide them.

That said, you can also divide your Maranta to propagate it.

This takes a bit more work compared to stem cuttings at least initially since you need to unpot the plant. It also requires that the mother plant is big enough since you’ll be dividing it into 2 or more small plants.

Finally, you cannot keep dividing your Prayer Plant because you’re limited by size. In contrast, you can keep taking stem cuttings and propagating them whenever you wish since the plant grows more stems quicker than its overall size does.

To propagate your Maranta Prayer Plant by Division

  • Carefully unpot the plant
  • Then brush off the excess soil to expose the roots.
  • Choose the section you want to divide. Look for parts of the roots that are connected to a clump of stems. Make sure that the section you have has enough roots. Also, there are stems growing out it that are healthy with at least a few leaves.
  • Gently separate the section from the root ball. You can use a sterilized knife to separate them if they don’t easily divide.
  • Pot up the mother plant and new plant in separate containers filled with fresh, well-draining soil.
  • Water the soil and keep it moist.

You can cover the new plant with a plastic bag to increase humidity if your home has dry air. Also, keep the plants in bright, indirect light in a warm location.

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