There are many ways a Prayer Plant might look as though it is dying. It may be that the leaves are turning yellow or brown, the plant is losing leaves at a rapid rate or even just the plant has stopped curling in at night (praying). In this post we will go over some of the main reasons why your Prayer Plant might be dying and hopefully you will be able to bring it back to full health.
Overwatering is the main cause of problems across all houseplant types. Which is why we always start with it as the first port of call when looking for a problem. Prayer Plants don’t like sitting in puddles of water for long periods of time. This will cause damage to the root system and mean your plant will lose leaves, become droopy and soft.
To figure out if overwatering is the reason your Prayer Plant is dying, check the moisture levels in the soil immediately. If the soil is quite waterlogged and clumpy then replace it with fresh dry mix which will allow the plant to start to recover. Trim away the rotten roots and hold off on watering as much as you did before.
Due to the damage to the root system, your Prayer Plant may take a little while to fully recover and grow new healthy leaves. But be patient and you should start to see your Prayer Plant looking fresher in a few weeks.
Too little water can also cause a lot of problems for your Prayer Plant and it will start to develop dry crispy leaves and the whole plant will shrivel up.
If you suspect it is underwatering then you must again check the moisture levels in the soil before making any changes to your care routine. When watering your underwatered Prayer Plant it’s super important you do it gradually. Like humans, houseplants sometimes get shocked by a sudden change of environment. Therefore, instead of drowning your plant and hoping for the best, try to stagger your waterings and give a little bit of water each time. Then make sure you adjust your schedule going forward so you are watering more than you were before.
Top tip: always check the moisture in the soil of any houseplant before watering using either the finger, chopstick or lifting method. It happens a lot that plant parents will actually overwater their plants to compensate for underwatering them. And this just leads to a whole new list of problems!
Too much light
Sunlight is another factor that can cause Prayer Plants to die. Although they will struggle in really dark rooms, this is pretty clear to most plant parents. Where the main problem lies is with direct sunlight. There is often a misconception that there is no such thing as too much light for a houseplant. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Direct sunlight will very quickly scorch and burn the leaves of your Prayer Plant which is irreversible. It will leave yellowy brown patches on the leaves which make the plant look as though it is dying – and over time it will!
If this has already happened to your Prayer Plant, trim away the scorched leaves and move your plant to an area of your home with indirect light.
Prayer Plants don’t really like winter very much because they struggle in cold temperatures. Not only does the cold weather cause them to stop growing, but it can also mean the leaves, stems and roots freeze.
During the winter months, your plant will also become more susceptible to root and leaf rot. This can happen if there is moisture on the plant when the temperatures drop (often at night when we don’t have the heating on).
To avoid this, make sure your plants are in the warmest rooms in your home throughout winter and always water in the morning so there is enough time for the water to be soaked up or evaporate before it gets dark.
Although fairly rare, Prayer Plants can begin to die if they are infested with pests. Insects such as mealybugs or spider mites can take hold of the plant and suck on their nutrients which will cause leaf damage. Over time these leaves will begin to fall off the plant.
Most of the time you can spot the pests crawling on the leaves which makes confirming the problem fairly easy. We also recommend using a magnifying glass to try and spot the pests on the plant if you can’t see any with the naked eye. They like to hang out on the undersides of leaves or near the leaf and stem joints so look extra carefully there.
Although spotting pests isn’t always difficult, treating them can be a bit of a pain. Check out this post to find out how to get rid of and prevent spider mites on your Prayer Plant.
Lack of humidity
Another reason why your Prayer Plant is dying could be a lack of humidity as they struggle in homes with dry air. This can be especially damaging during the winter months when we often have the heating on. Dry air will cause the leaves to go crispy, become limp and droop down. But if you have caught the problem early then this is quite an easy fix and you should be able to revive your Prayer Plant in only a few days. Here are a few ways you can increase the humidity:
Misting the leaves
One of the simplest ways to increase the humidity for your Prayer Plant is to mist it with a spray bottle a couple of times a week. Make sure to only do this in the morning though as if the leaves are wet overnight they may start to rot.
Place your Prayer Plant over a tray of pebbles with fresh water over the top. Over the day water from the tray will evaporate giving your plant exactly what it’s looking for.
Give your Prayer Plant a shower
One easy method which will instantly increase the humidity if giving your plant a shower. It is also a great way to remove dust and pests from your plant which is a bonus! Simply pop them in the shower and wash them down with lukewarm water. You want to keep the water pressure of the shower very low though so you don’t damage the leaves or stems.
Move your Prayer Plant to the bathroom
If you’re lucky enough to have great lighting in your bathroom you can move your Prayer Plant in there to increase the humidity. The running water from your showers means your bathroom is naturally one of the most humid in your home. Another great room for high humidity is the kitchen due to the steam from cooking. Just be sure not to put your plant too close to the cooker or it’ll burn.
Buy a humidifier
They’re relatively affordable little devices which keep a consistent humidity level in your home. This is the long term solution (showering your plant will only increase the humidity for a little while). Some humidifiers have features built-in that mean you can put it on a schedule or make it automatically turn off once it has reached a certain level.
Want to know more about how to raise the humidity for your Prayer Plant and other houseplants? Check out of detailed humidity guide.
These are the most common reasons why Prayer Plants will start to die so we recommend going through the causes one by one to see which fits with the care routine and environment of your plant. If you want to learn more about caring for your plant check out our Prayer Plant care guide or download the How to Care for your Houseplants ebook.
Written by Joanna Turner