How to Revive a Prayer Plant

In this article, we would discuss everything you need to know about how to revive a prayer plant.

Also important is a rundown of the factors responsible for this dire situation and the simple measures you can take to prevent it from happening again.

For ornamental houseplants like the prayer plant, the worst-case scenario is seeing them failing or dying despite your best efforts.

To be clear, most plants die due to extreme neglect; but they can also look sickly when you seem to be doing everything right.

Though prayer plants, also known as maranta prayer plants, are among the easiest houseplants to care for, a similar fate can occur to them.

When this happens, the focus should be on how to revive the prayer plant as soon as possible.

The difficulty level, in terms of saving the plant, often depends on how soon you catch the problem and take action.

How to Revive a Prayer Plant

Often cultivated indoors because it is hardy in only zones 11 and 12, the prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), comes with oval-shaped, variegated leaves.

The leaves fold close in the absence of light like two hands coming together in prayer helping to conserve moisture and providing protection.

The leaves open up again in the presence of light to reveal the startling neon-colored veins.

The veins radiate outwards towards the edge of each leave from the central leaf vein of similar color.

While prayer plants are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance, they are also susceptible to various kinds of problems when neglected for too long.

The result of this neglect is a dying prayer plant with numerous symptoms such as wilting leaves, leaf discoloration, drooping, root rot, and much more.

And sometimes, these problems crop up no matter how diligent your maranta prayer plant care routine is. This makes knowing how to revive a prayer plant a useful plant parenting skill to have.

But to successfully save a dying prayer plant, it’s essential to know the underlying cause(s) of the problem. An accurate diagnosis makes it easier to apply the right solution and take action to prevent a recurrence.

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Causes and Symptoms of Prayer Plant Problems

Improper watering

Improperly watering a prayer plant is one of the major causes of problems linked to the plant. When it comes to water issues, there are mainly three aspects to consider. These are:

Underwatered prayer plant – Prayer plants love soil moist soil.  Dry soil, often due to inadequate watering for too long, leads to wilting, dry crispy leaves, curling leaves in the daytime, and eventually death.

Overwatered prayer plant – Too much watering of the soil triggers a series of unfortunate events that would eventually cause prayer plant fatality.

It starts with the soil becoming soggy; this creates the perfect environment for harmful soil fungi and bacteria to thrive; finally, the activities of these microorganisms in the soil lead to root rot, a deadly plant disease.

Some of the symptoms of overwatering include drooping leaves and stems, root rot, yellow leaves, and even leaf loss.

Water quality – Prayer plants react to prolong the use of tap water by developing brown leaves. This is the result of fluoride salts buildup in the soil, a consequence of the presence of fluorine in treated tap water.

When the salts become too much, it can disrupt the transport of essential nutrients to the leaves. The plant would eventually die if the situation remains unchanged.

Light exposure

Many newbie gardeners find it weird that prayer plants hate it when exposed to full sunlight for long. As tropical plants, it seems logical that they would thrive in the full blast of the sun.

The reality is, that the plants thrive best in the shade which is provided by tall trees in the forests. Loss of leaf variegation, wilting plant, and dry sunburn leaves are some of the typical symptoms of over-exposure to sunlight.

On the other hand, they’d also fare poorly in insufficient lighting or dark areas. Here, the major symptoms include slightly curling leaves at the edges and leggy plant growth.

Low Humidity

Prayer plats are happiest when exposed to medium to high humidity environments. Dry air or humidity levels below 40% can lead to a host of problems such as wilting, with leaves that appear dry and appear poised to fall off at any moment

Pests Infestations

Pest attacks are things to watch out for too even though they are not as common as problems linked to water. The major culprits are mites and mealybugs.

Mites are easily recognizable as tiny blackish spots on the surface of the leaves. The symptoms of spider mites infestation include brownish or yellowish spots and whitish web-like substances on the leaves.

Mealybugs infestation produces symptoms such as curly leaves. A sticky, clear substance on the surface of affected leaves and stems is also a sign of mealybug infestation.


Meloidogyne incognita, a root-based nematode, can infect garden prayer plants cultivated in infected soil. Indoor prayer plants might become susceptible if they were originally grown outdoors in infected garden soil before being potted and moved indoors.

The major symptom is the wilting of infected plants, especially on hot days.

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Ways to Revive a Prayer Plant

Now that you can easily diagnose and recognize the different symptoms of a dying prayer plant and the causes, applying the corresponding fix or solution is the next step.

Keep in mind that in some cases, reviving your maranta plant might need multiple solutions.

That said, the first series of steps when trying to revive a prayer plant include:

  • Moving and isolating the affected plant from other plants
  • Immediately pruning all diseased leaves to prevent spreading to other plants
  • Trimming affected leaf part in mild cases

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After the above, you can start applying some of the solutions below:

The solution to prayer plant watering issues

Adopt the proper watering routine by irrigating the plant only when the top couple of inches of the soil is dry.

Simply stick a finger into the soil up to the first knuckle; if it comes up dry, the plant needs water.

The frequency can be once a week depending on the weather conditions.

Also, while watering, stop only when water starts coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot indicating that all parts of the soil have enough water.

You might want to check that the holes are not blocked.

And in terms of water quality, you need to discontinue using tap water. Stick to rainwater, distilled water, or spring water.

First though, heavily water the plant with good quality water to flush out the excess salts from the soil.

But if tap water is the only option, allow it to sit in a container for at least a day before using it to irrigate your prayer plant.

This simple trick allows most of the harmful fluorine to evaporate.

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Low Humidity solutions

This problem is easily diagnosed with a basic humidity meter you can get from any garden center. If the meter reads low humidity (below 40%), you can do any of the following:

  • Move the plant away from heat sources
  • Install a humidifier
  • Place the pot in a tray or saucer filled with water. The bottom of the pot must rest on pebbles so it doesn’t sit directly on the water.

Evaporating water would raise the humidity around the plant in due course.

  • You can also relocate the plant to your bathroom. The presence of water droplets in the air ensures the humidity is relatively high.

Place the pot close to a window so it can get adequate light and airflow.

Solution to sunlight issues

Instantly relocate the plant from its current location to an area that is bright but protected from the sun.

You could also use sunscreen if moving the plant is not an option. The sunscreen must allow some light from the sun to filter through to the plant.

Pests issues

The best way to identify these tiny pests is to observe the leaves closely through a magnifying glass.

If you spot any of them (they are typically found on the underside of leaves), use the following remedial methods to take care of the problem:

  • Spray the affected foliage with insecticidal soap
  • Spraying the leaves with neem oil is also a good way to get rid of the pests.

Keep in mind that you may have to spray the leaves multiple times over several days until all the pests are eliminated

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Examining the roots is the only way to diagnose this problem. This implies carefully uprooting the plant and looking out for relatively large swellings on the root system.

The swellings are the result of the larvae growing there.

Unfortunately, reviving a prayer plant with this problem is not possible.

The best option is to dispose of both the plant and potting soil.

Then wash the pot very well with soap and water before using it again.

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Important Prayer Plant Care Tips to Prevent Your Praying Plant From Dying

  • In winter, relocate the plant to a warmer area. This is especially vital for plants kept near windows or on window sills.,
  • Don’t place the plant close to heat sources such as heaters because of low humidity.
  • To encourage new growth and improve appearance, prune your prayer plant about twice in the growing season.
  • Cultivate the habit of removing dust from the leaves with a damp cloth. This helps with prayer plant hydration, removes pests, and improves aesthetics.
  • Use water-soluble, nitrogen-rich fertilizer about once a month in the growing season
  • Avoid watering the leaves, especially in the evening to prevent the growth of harmful fungi.

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Wrapping up

Knowing how to revive a prayer plant is a useful skill to have when growing them as houseplants.

Though they are famous for being easy to grow and require just a bit of care and maintenance to thrive, unforeseen issues or extreme neglect might lead to problems.

Not knowing how to diagnose and resolve these problems might eventually prove fatal to the plant.

Fortunately, saving a dying prayer plant doesn’t require doing too much. In most cases, observing the proper plant care routine is all that is needed.