The lemon lime prayer plant is famous for its unique leaf design incorporating lemon-colored stripes on the deep green surface projecting outwards in gentle arcs from the leaf’s central vein to the edges. Each leaf also folds close at night like two hands coming together in prayer.
If you’ve just added this plant to your bucket list of houseplants to cultivate, you are in for a delightful ride.
Like most popular houseplants, it is very easy to grow and except for some routine stuff, you don’t have to do much in terms of care and maintenance.
Everything you need to know about growing lemon lime prayer plant is covered in this article.
This includes the occasional quirks and problems unique to the plant that you might have to deal with and how to propagate the plant.
Lemon Lime Prayer Plant: Care Guide
The lemon lime prayer plant, also known as the maranta prayer plant, belongs to the Marantaceae group of flowering plants with origins in the tropical forests of Brazil.
Hardy in zones 11 -12, they can thrive both outdoors and indoors sprouting oval-shaped, deep green leaves with the signature neon-colored veins shooting out from similarly-colored rib-like veins to the leaf’s edge.
Indoors, the plant grows low on fleshy, leggy stems spreading out to about 3 feet making them great options for shelves or hanging baskets.
Each leaf can grow up to 5 inches long and responds to the presence or absence of light by opening or folding respectively.
This phenomenon is known as nyctinasty, an instinctive trait to protect the leaf and conserve moisture at night.
In the subsequent sections below, we would be discussing all the critical lemon lime prayer plant growing conditions, how to propagate them, some common problems, and care tips.
Lemon lime Prayer Plant Growing Conditions
The ideal soil for growth should be well-draining and loose to allow the roots to breathe.
Any standard, light peat mix that would be perfect. If you are not satisfied with the drainage though, you can amend the soil with perlite.
You could also start from scratch and make your own potting soil using equal amounts of perlite, peat moss, and potting soil bought from a garden center.
The plants thrive best in slightly acidic soil. So it’s vital that you test the soil to ensure the pH is between 5 and 6 when transplanting or propagating them.
Marantas are happiest in ambient light conditions. The best location for them is anywhere that is bright.
If you can read effortlessly in any area without extra light or without straining to see the words, the lighting is good enough for the plants to grow.
And if the location is exposed to a few hours of direct early morning sunshine, that would be peachy!
Avoid leaving them where they are exposed to the full glare of the midday sun.
This damages the plant by causing sunburns on the leaves and effectively compromising the green beauty of the affected leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
Another vital piece of the maranta prayer plant cultivation puzzle to get right is the humidity.
The native rainforest marantas love it when the humidity is high. The least humidity should be in the 45 – 55 % range.
In very humid environments though, it is important to have adequate airflow to ensure the leaves and soil are not constantly wet.
If the humidity is too low, consider placing the plant in a ‘humidity tray’.
This is a saucer or tray filled with water. The plant’s pot should rest on rocks or pebbles to prevent direct contact with the water.
Using a humidifier is also another great option when it comes to raising the humidity.
In terms of temperature, the ideal range is between 65 -85 °F. Lower than 50 °F, the leaves experience frost damage; and at temperatures above 85 °F, the whole plant is likely to wilt from excessive loss of moisture and eventually die.
You want to make sure that indoors, the plant is not kept near heat sources, cooling vents, or air conditioners.
Lemon Lime Prayer Plant Care & Maintenance
Like all ornamental houseplants, proper watering is one of the most important routines you need to nail down to ensure a consistently healthy plant.
When it comes to watering, there are two critical issues to resolve and get right: how often to water the lemon lime prayer plant and the best time to water.
Prayer plants are susceptible to root rot so you want to be careful not to overwater the plant.
The best time to water your lemon lime prayer plants is in the morning to allow the plant to soak up enough water moisture for the production of plant energy during the day.
And how often should you water the soil? Basically, when the top one inch of the soil is dry.
You can simply stick a finger into the soil to test the moisture level. If the finger comes up dry, the soil is ready for another watering session.
Always ensure the soil is always moist and never completely dry.
Following this strategy means you don’t have to water more than once a week.
In winter, the frequency is less since the plant doesn’t use up as much water compared to the growing season.
Once every couple of weeks or even once monthly is normal. Basically, you don’t the soil to become bone dry.
Also, avoid using tap water because of the presence of fluorides that can lead to brown spots on the leaves. Distilled or rainwater is best.
But if you are restricted to just tap water, ‘treat’ the tap water by allowing it to sit in a container for at least 24 hours before using it to water the plant.
This treatment allows most of the fluorides to evaporate from the water.
Finally, when it comes to the actual watering, don’t spray water on the leaves.
Wet leaves create a perfect environment for harmful fungi to grow on the leaves.
So point the watering can’s spout directly at the soil and keep watering until excess water starts coming out of the drainage holes.
To encourage steady growth and to improve the appearance of your prayer plant, pruning is essential.
That aside, pruning might be the best option to get rid of discolored or sickly-looking leaves and prevent the problem from spreading.
The best time to prune is in the growing season, but it can be done at any time of the year.
Propagating lemon lime prayer plant follows the standard procedure for most houseplants using stem or leaf cuttings containing at least a node.
You can root the cuttings in a jar of water before transplanting them to a pot filled with potting soil after the new roots are about a couple of inches long.
Rooting the cuttings can also take place directly in potting soil.
Keep in mind that the young cuttings tend to be slow growers so you need to be patient.
The cuttings can take up to a week or more to root under the right conditions.
If you wish to propagate your prayer plant, it’s best to do so after pruning in the growing season.
The pruned parts would provide more than enough propagation material.
Sooner or later, your lemon lime prayer plant would become pot bound with the roots outgrowing the container.
This could lead to all sorts of problems including stunted growth and leaf discoloration.
When your prayer plant becomes pot bound, you have to repot in a larger pot to save it.
To confirm, carefully remove the root ball from the pot.
If the root system is so dense it is difficult to differentiate it from the remaining soil, that is the proof you need that it has become pot bound.
Another way to confirm this is to inspect the drainage hole or holes at the bottom.
If all you see are roots with some poking out of the hole, it’s time to repot your plant.
When repotting the lemon lime prayer plant, use a similar potting soil in a pot that is a just size larger than the previous pot.
A pot that is several sizes larger might hold too much water in the soil for the roots. This could cause root rot.
Marantas are typically light feeders. A dose or two of balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, diluted to about 50% of the original strength, and applied once a month would benefit them.
The ideal fertilization period is during the growing season in spring and summer.
Lemon Lime Prayer Plant Problems
When growing a prayer plant, you want to be on the lookout for some problems.
The most common prayer plant problems are linked to the leaves.
These include brown patches on the leaves and/or leaf tips turning brown.
These are mostly due to overwatering, improper lighting, low humidity levels, and fluorides in water.
Under the right conditions, the plants are susceptible to pest attacks.
The common pests include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. This makes it important to regularly inspect the plant for signs of these pests.
The symptoms of mealybugs infestation include white sticky substances and curly leaves.
You can rid the leaves of them by cleaning the leaves with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
Lemon lime prayer plant spider mites, on the other hand, can be eliminated by cleaning the leaves with neem oil or soap solution.
You can easily spot spider mites by the grey, dusty webbings on the leaves.
Make sure you deal with spider mites immediately because they can easily get out of control and destroy the leaves.
Several factors make the lemon lime prayer plant one of the best plants for newbies to hone their houseplant parenting skills.
They are easy to grow and care for, growing effortlessly to produce uniquely-designed deep green leaves.
Literally, all aspects of houseplant care come with a gentle learning curve when talking about prayer plants cultivation.
Even the expected problems are easily avoidable; and when they crop up, are quite easy to get ahead of.
The only tough nut is root rot that you’d do well to avoid by making sure the soil is never soggy with too much water.