Prayer plants are gorgeous houseplants, and prayer plant propagation is really easy! Learn how to propagate a maranta leuconeura plant from a cutting, including how to root it in water, LECA, and more.
Prayer plant propagation guide
Hey all, today we’re talking about prayer plant propagation. Prayer plants are a common and classic plant that are super easy to propagate. I already have a prayer plant care post that includes some propagation details, but I wanted to do a whole post dedicated to just propagation.
Why? Because this plant is so common that a lot of people are searching for tips on how to propagate it! There are a few ways to propagate it, and I’ve tried a couple of them. I’ll go over how to take the perfect prayer plant cutting, the different ways to root the cutting, and how to plant it in soil. Let’s do it.
Prayer plant origins
The prayer plant’s scientific name is maranta leuconeura, and there are a bunch of different varieties of it. In fact, the maranta genus has about 40–50 plants (including the prayer plant). The plants are native to Brazil’s tropical rainforests and both clump and trail when growing.
No matter the variety of prayer plant, the leaves are oval-shaped with gorgeous veining. They have a special “pulvinus” joint between the leaves and the stems. This joint causes the leaves to rise and fall over a 24-hour light cycle, bending at the joint to resemble praying.
How to take the perfect cutting for a prayer plant propagation
So that’s a quick overview of prayer plants. But how do you take the perfect cutting for a prayer plant propagation? You can’t just take a cutting anywhere on the plant. A leaf cutting with just a stem and no nodes won’t be any good to you.
So that’s what you need: nodes. Nodes typically present as small little brownish bumps on the stems. They are usually right around where the leaf meets the stem. I have a few pictures of them below—and this is where the new roots will sprout!
So where do I cut on the stem?
Just below the node! You want the cutting to include the node or nodes when you cut it. The pictures below are of two prayer plant cuttings I took to test LECA and water propagation for this post.
The photos of nodes above are closeup photos of these cuttings. So you can just see the entire cutting here—leaves, stem, nodes, and all. Each cutting should have at least one leaf on it.
Prayer plant propagation in water
The first method of prayer plant propagation I am documenting is using water. Water is a super easy way to root plant cuttings because it’s pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it method. You just stick the cutting in water and wait.
I like to replace the water every week or so to ensure it remains fresh. After a while, the cutting will begin to sprout water roots from the nodes on the cutting. So make sure the nodes are submerged fully in the water.
Water roots are thin, white, and semi-translucent. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can plant the cutting in well-draining soil. (Most indoor houseplant potting mixes are fine for prayer plants.) The plant might go limp for a week or so; that’s because the water roots are adjusting to soil.
Keep the soil moist for a few weeks while the cutting takes root in soil. Once you can pull on the cutting and get resistance, it is rooted in the soil. Back off the watering and begin treating the plant as you would any normal prayer plant—letting the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings.
Rooting a prayer plant in sphagnum moss
I’m not rooting a prayer plant cutting in sphagnum moss and perlite for this post, but it is definitely a viable method. Check out my post about how to root plants in sphagnum moss and perlite for complete details on this rooting method.
As an overview, when I am rooting plants in moss, I like to soak sphagnum moss in water and then squeeze out all of the excess water. Then mix in some chunky perlite to facilitate drainage. Pop that in a cup, dip the cutting in some rooting hormone, and add the cutting.
You can put the cutting in a propagation box to keep humidity levels high and prevent the moss from drying out too quickly—or you can put a bag over the top of the cutting. Monitor to make sure the moss doesn’t dry out. After a few weeks, you should have some lovely roots and be able to transfer the cutting to soil.
Maranta propagation in LECA
Rooting plant cuttings in LECA has been one of my favorite methods lately because it is just so EASY. You don’t have to monitor the moss to see if it is drying out. And the roots typically grow a bit beefier since they aren’t submerged in water.
I have a whole post on how to propagate plants in LECA, but it’s very simple. First grab some LECA (which are just clay balls). Then put a bit of LECA into your jar.
Add the cutting and fill in with more LECA around the cutting to hold it in place. And add water into the jar up to the very bottom of the cutting—just below the nodes. This is key. The nodes shouldn’t be in water; they should just be in moist clay balls. Yummy.
When your cutting grows some beefy roots, simply transplant it into soil and treat the new prayer plant as normal. I find that the roots rebound much easier when they are grown in LECA compared to water, but it’s fun to experiment with both.
LECA vs. water roots
I also want to compare the difference between water and LECA roots for you all. This shows why I love LECA so much for propagation! The two cuttings in the pic below were both taken at the same time.
The cutting on the left has LECA roots, while the cutting on the right has the one little was root. See the difference? Not only are the LECA roots larger and more mature, they look stronger. The water root isn’t bad, and it’ll get there—but it’s definitely different.