Yellow Leaves on Prayer Plant? Here’s the Solution (2022)

If you are a plant enthusiast, you must be a lover of houseplants, especially the prayer plant. The prayer plant is a favorite amongst people who love planting due to its gorgeous, patterned foliage. This heavy, green foliage consists of beautiful oval leaves. However, yellow leaves on prayer plants can be a cause of concern.

A lot of factors such as environmental stress, soil conditions, and diseases can cause the yellowing of the prayer plant’s deep green leaves. Keep reading to find out what you can do to save a prayer plant that is slowly turning yellow.

Types of prayer plants

Before we jump into a detailed discussion on the causes of yellow leaves on prayer plants, let’s first look at a few basic specifications of this gorgeous plant. The prayer plant gets its name because of its leaves that fold up as the sun goes down, which resembles the way we join hands for supplication.

However, during the day, the leaves lie flat. There are a few types of these prayer plants, but the most popular one is the Marantaceae, which belongs to the arrowroot family. The other varieties of the prayer plant or Maranta leuconeura include:

  • Calathea ornata genus (aka Goeppertia)
  • Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii
  • Stromanthe

All prayer plants, however, have the same specifications and need to be cared for in a similar way to prevent their leaves from turning yellow.

Prayer Plant types

The basic specifications of the Maranta leuconeura are:

  • Origin: Brazilian tropical forests
  • Genus: Maranta
  • Family: Marantaceae or arrowroots
  • Species: M. leuconeura
  • Temperature: 65 to 75°F
  • Soil condition: Well-drained soil
  • Sunlight: Bright and indirect
  • Humidity: High

The prayer plant is hard to care for if you have the correct knowledge about its behavior and patterns. However, it can be challenging as prayer plants are very sensitive to their surroundings.

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  • Sufficient quantity in one bottle for many plants
  • Application: Soil
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  • Can be mixed with regular soil
  • Good for potted plants
  • Style: Plastic bag
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Why are the leaves on my prayer plant turning yellow?

Yellow leaves on prayer plants are definitely a cause of concern, but they are not a dead-end for your plants. If you catch these distress signals soon enough, you can actually reverse the damage caused to the plant by fixing the issue that caused the yellowing in the first place.

Here’s what these distress signals indicate:

  • Yellow leaves: Natural growth, overwatering, deficiency of nutrients
  • Leggy leaves: Insufficient amount of sunlight
  • Droopy leaves: Under-watering or overwatering, low humidity levels
  • Brown, soft leaves with soft stems: Root rot or overwatering
  • Dry brown leaves: Insufficient humidity, direct bright sunlight, minerals in tap water, cold temperature
  • Spotty leaves: Pets, fungal infection

Now that you have a basic idea of why prayer leaves start changing color and texture, let’s look at why exactly these things happen and what you can do to prevent them.

Cold Temperature

Yellow leaves on prayer plants can occur when you expose the plant to cold temperatures. This yellowing can be entirely yellow or yellow with spots of brown. Prayer plants thrive best at temperatures above 55°F.

A temperature range between 65 and 80°F is even better for their overall growth and health. Anything below this is simply too cold for this plant, even if it is nowhere near freezing temperatures. A temperature drop causes these plants to fare badly, and they simply start to wilt.

Experts recommend keeping these plants in an area that does not cause chilly air to come in direct contact with the plant, such as near a window or door.

Moreover, when purchasing these plants, you must ensure that delivery is made in a way that will not damage it. To prevent chill injuries, keep hot packs or turn on car heaters when bringing these plants home.

Insufficient soil drainage

Prayer plants are native to the Brazilian tropical forests, so they love moisture and thrive best in moist soil. However, if this soil is not well-drained, it can cause a problem for the plant. Their roots like to breathe in oxygen from the soil, so waterlogging can be dangerous for them. If the roots do not get sufficient oxygen, they may slowly cause the plant to start dying. This is indicated by the yellowing of the prayer plant leaves.

Prayer plants are usually kept in pots inside homes, which can also be the reason for waterlogging. If you keep watering the plant without worrying about emptying the saucer that the pot stands in, your prayer plant could be in trouble. You must let the excess water drain out of pots to prevent killing the roots.

Thicker pots such as those made with a less porous material can be culprits too. These, too, can cut off the oxygen supply to the prayer plant’s roots.

It is ideal to choose plastic pots or terracotta pots with enough holes to pot prayer plants. We also recommend using soil that works both ways. This means that prayer plants should be kept in soil that can retain water but can also drain itself.

Overwatering

Overwatering has exactly the same effects as insufficient drainage. If you keep watering your plant too regularly, the soil may become too moist, and the oxygen supply can be cut off from the roots. Waterlogging turns leaves yellow as the plant slowly starts to perish and is definitely not a good sight.

You should water these plants twice a week but make sure to check if your pots feel heavy before watering them. If they feel heavy, it is possible that the soil is moist enough and that further water should not be poured down there. Alternatively, you can feel the soil with your fingers to determine if it is dry or wet.

Inadequate humidity

Tropical plants adapted to high humidity levels can certainly not survive in lower levels. Prayer plants, too, follow the same pattern. Dry weather and cold temperatures can cause the air inside your home to turn very dry. If this happens, the leaves of your prayer plants may start turning yellow or even brown.

Prayer plants thrive best at humidity levels between 40% and 60%. A hygrometer installed in your home might help you monitor and ultimately balance out these levels to protect your prayer plants.

You can also adopt some other methods to keep the plants thriving if humidity levels drop low. These include spraying leaves with water, using a humidifier, keeping many houseplants close to each other, keeping saplings or younger plants in terrariums, and using humidity trays placed below the plant.

If you can’t do any of the above, it is best to choose specific locations around your house that are more humid than other rooms, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.

Iron deficiency 

Yellow leaves on prayer plants can occur due to iron deficiency as well. To allow your plants to absorb sufficient iron for optimal growth and well-being, you must place them in acidic soil. A higher pH of soil prevents roots from getting enough iron. The green chemical called chlorophyll in plants, which also gives leaves a green color, cannot be formed in sufficient amounts if enough iron is not present.

Chelated liquid iron or fertilizers with a good amount of iron can be applied to the soil to prevent this. Coir or peat-based soil medium is good for increased acidity that is suited for the prayer plant’s healthy functioning.

Pests and diseases

Spider mites are pests that may attack your prayer plants and cause their leaves to start turning yellow. Neem oil and insecticidal soap, along with a thorough wash, can help get rid of spider mites.

Fungal diseases can also occur. Helminthosporium leaf spot is a kind of fungal disease in which tiny, water-soaked spots start to appear on the leaves. When left untreated, these spots soon turn yellow. Waterlogged soil is a major cause of the plants contracting this fungus. But you can use neem oil or fungicide chlorothalonil to kill it off.

The cucumber mosaic virus is another disease that can damage your prayer plants. Yellow leaves are a common symptom once your plant contracts the virus. Not much can be done to kill this virus off. Therefore, it is best to destroy the plant that has contracted it to prevent it from spreading to others.


Best products to prevent yellow leaves on prayer plant

As discussed earlier, you may require a few tools and materials to help your prayer plants thrive. Here’s an overview of some of the best products available in the market:

1. Goabroa Mini Digital Indoor Humidity Gauge Monitor & Temperature Meter Sensor – Best choice for humidity control

This mini hygrometer is perfect for monitoring humidity levels in any room or space. It’s small and can be carried anywhere easily. It can be used for a wide range of applications. This hydrometer can also be used to measure temperature.

Style: Battery-operated

Application: Incubators, brooders, cigar humidors, reptile tank, guitar case, others

Size: Pocket-sized

Treatment Area: Anywhere

Pros

  • Compact
  • Accurate

2. VPG Ferti-Lome Iron Liquid Plant Food – Excellent iron supplement for plants

Excellent iron supplement for plants
VPG Ferti-Lome Iron Liquid Plant Food

The bottle contains 16 ounces of chelated liquid iron, which is a great supplement for plants dealing with iron deficiency. It can simply be sprayed or put directly into the soil. 

Make sure to follow instructions to see if you might need to dilute it for your plants.

Style: 1.3-pound bottle

Application: Soil

Size: 16 ounces

Treatment Area: Iron-deficient soil

Pros

  • Effective
  • Sufficient quantity in one bottle for many plants

3. Soil Mender 8 Qt. 109 Potting Mix – Top choice for well-drained soil

Top choice for well-drained soil
Soil Mender 8 Qt. 109 Potting Mix

This soil is perfect for creating bedding for plants that will retain water while also letting the excess flow out. It is coir and peat-based.

Style: Plastic bag

Application: Soil

Size: 8 Qt.

Treatment Area: Soil

Pros

  • Can be mixed with regular soil
  • Good for potted plants

4. Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Based Plant Food and Fertilizer – Easy-to-use fertilizer applicator

This is a powerful combination of the best nutrients required by plants for optimal growth. The ingredients are organic, all-natural, and safe for plants. The formula is also non-toxic for humans and pets.

Style: Easy-to-use shaker

Application: Soil

Size: 3 oz.

Treatment Area: Soil

Pros

  • Easy application
  • Non-toxic
  • Effective
  • All-natural

Final thoughts

Taking good care of any plant is a must in order for them to thrive and survive, and the same goes for prayer plants. Prayer plants can add a beautiful touch to your home, and it should not be challenging to care for them if you really know what to do. If you are careful about temperature, humidity, sunlight, fertilizer, and watering, your prayer plants should remain green with beautiful foliage.

If you care for them while keeping their needs in mind, you shouldn’t see any yellow, brown, spotted, or droopy leaves. You must also be wary of pests and diseases, as these can be difficult to detect in their initial stages.

Make sure to keep an eye on your prayer plants just as much you would on your pets. Apply fungicides and insecticides as and when needed. Do not hesitate to sacrifice a plant if it contracts the cucumber mosaic virus. This will only help you save your other houseplants from harm. Once you know how to take care of one prayer plant, you will further be able to take care of many and can fill your home up with them as you please! Happy planting!

FAQs

Why are my prayer plant leaves turning yellow and brown?

Your prayer plant leaves could be turning brown due to a variety of reasons. These could be environmental factors such as humidity or sunlight. Yellow leaves can be a sign of a pest attack or a disease. Leaves turning yellow and brown can also be a sign of waterlogged soil and inadequate nutrients.

How do you know when a prayer plant is dying?

You will know your prayer plant is dying when its leaves start turning either yellow or brown. Dead, dying leaves indicate an underlying problem that needs to be solved before it is too late. It is also possible that the plant stops curling its leaves at night or starts shedding them. All of these indicate a prayer plant is slowly dying off.

How do I fix yellow leaves on my prayer plant?

Yellow leaves may start appearing on a prayer plant due to a variety of reasons. You must first assess the underlying problem to prevent further yellowing. Factors, or stress signals, include cold temperatures, waterlogged soil, insufficient nutrients, too much or too little sunlight, pests, and diseases.

When should I fertilize my prayer plant?

Prayer plants should be fertilized every two weeks. This should be done during spring and autumn with water-soluble fertilizers. You should always dilute this to half-strength. It is also important to note that if you give your plants too little fertilizer, they might stop growing completely or may not remain as healthy.

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