All about plant fertilization

➤ Prayer plant fertilizer [How and when to fertilize Marantas]


The Marantas are a genus of plants within which there are about 42 accepted species. Without a doubt, it is one of the most sought after indoor plants due to its excellent ability to decorate almost any room. As with many houseplants, they are adapted to growing indoors because they are native to tropical rainforests. In this article we will talk about the fertilization of prayer plants, how when and with what fertilizers to carry out this task.


As you may have noticed, I used the concepts of Marantas or prayer plants as a synonym. This is because this last denomination is the most popular way in which these plants are known. The origin of this popular name is due to the behavior of its leaves during the night and the day of the Marantas. During the day he exposes the leaves, lowers them and during the night he raises them and folds them as if they were two palms of the hand praying.

Prayer plant fertilizer [How and when to fertilize Marantas]
Important fact: many confuse prayer plants with Calatheas, the truth is they are very similar, but they are not the same plant. The best way to differentiate one from the other will be to notice the behavior of their leaves. Calatheas do not “pray” with their leaves the way Marantas do.

1. How to care Marantas?


As we mentioned, prayer plants are ideal for indoor cultivation, both for their beauty and for their ease of care. Its beautiful foliage is ideal to accompany the furniture in your house, achieving the best decorations. In any case, so that they can look beautiful, the prayer plants will need certain care:

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  1. Light: Prayer plants prefer bright, indirect light. try to keep it out of direct sunlight, as it can burn its delicate leaves. They can tolerate low light conditions, but this can result in less vibrant foliage.
  2. Temperature: The ideal range of temperatures is between 18 °C to 24 °C.
    Avoid exposing your plant to drafts or sudden temperature fluctuations, as these can stress it out.
  3. Humidity: They thrive in high humidity conditions. Try to maintain a humidity level that reaches at least 50%. You can mist the plant with water or place it near a humidifier to increase room humidity.
  4. Irrigation: It is ideal that you keep the earth constantly humid but not soaked. Allow the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
  5. Soil: It needs a soil with good drainage and rich in organic matter. A mixture designed for tropical plants or African violets is suitable. Transplant your prayer plant every 2 to 3 years, or when it has roots.
  6. Pruning: It does not need very important pruning, it is enough that you prune your prayer plant by cutting dead or yellowed leaves and stimulating new growth. You can also pinch off the tips of the plant to promote bushier growth.
  7. Pests and Diseases: the most common thing is that you find mites and aphids. You can comment treating these pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Ensure good air circulation around the plant to prevent fungal diseases.

With these small care you can enjoy the exotic beauty of these plants and decorate your home in the best way.

2. What do the NPK values mean in a fertilizer?


Before I start talking about fertilizing prayer plants, there is a concept that I need you to know about. The concept I am referring to is that of the NPK values that represent the three essential macronutrients necessary for plant growth: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).

If you have already bought fertilizers on some occasion, you will have noticed that in the fertilizer packages there are generally three numbers separated by a hyphen, those are the NPK values. Each number corresponds to the percentage by weight of these nutrients in the fertilizer, in the order of N, P, and K. Let’s break down what each of these nutrients is:

  • Nitrogen (N): This nutrient is crucial for the development of leaves and stems. It plays an important role in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.
  • Phosphorus (P): This second nutrient is essential for root development, flower formation, and overall plant energy transfer. It helps in the transformation of sunlight into energy and the transport of nutrients within the plant.
  • Potassium (K): Finally, potassium helps plants develop resistance to diseases and environmental stressors. It also aids in the activation of enzymes necessary for various plant processes, including the formation of sugars and starches.

For example, if you buy an NPK fertilizer of 15-10-10 it means that; 15% is nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and the other 10% potassium. It can be considered a fertilizer with a really high amount of nitrogen. When what you have is a subscription like 10-10-10 (three equal numbers) what you have is a subscription that we know as balanced. That is, in its composition it has the same proportions of the three main nutrients.

3. The best fertilizer for prayer plant


To start talking about fertilizing your prayer plants here is a list of some of the best fertilizers. I have chosen to divide the fertilizers between organic, synthetic or commercial and homemade options:

3.1 Organic Fertilizers

The use of organic fertilizers is a very good option, especially because they are safer for the environment than synthetic ones. It also improves the soil structure, supplies long-term nutrients and promotes soil microbial life.

Among the best organic fertilizers for your Marantas we can mention:

  1. Fish Emulsion: Fish emulsion is an organic liquid fertilizer made from fish byproducts. It provides a balanced source of nutrients and is gentle on plants.
  2. Seaweed Extract: Seaweed-based fertilizers contain a range of micronutrients and growth-promoting compounds. They are excellent for overall plant health.
  3. Compost Tea: Homemade compost tea is rich in organic matter and nutrients. It’s an excellent choice for organic gardeners and can be made by steeping compost in water.
  4. Worm Castings: Worm castings, also known as vermicompost, are nutrient-rich organic matter produced by earthworms. They are a slow-release fertilizer that enhances soil health.
  5. Liquid Kelp Fertilizer: Liquid kelp fertilizers are derived from seaweed and are a source of essential minerals and growth hormones for plants.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3.2 Synthetic or Commercial Fertilizers:

If what you want are more immediate results, what you need is to buy synthetic fertilizers. This is because the nutritional precision is much higher, it allows a rapid absorption of nutrients and how much with an exact nutrient dosage. When you go to buy a fertilizer for your prayer plants look for among the following:

  1. All-Purpose Water-Soluble Fertilizer: Commercial brands like Miracle-Gro, Schultz, or Jack’s Classic offer all-purpose water-soluble fertilizers with balanced N-P-K ratios suitable for prayer plants.
  2. Slow-Release Pellet Fertilizer: Products like Osmocote or Nutricote provide a controlled-release of nutrients over an extended period, reducing the frequency of application.
  3. Granular Fertilizer: Some granular indoor plant fertilizers, like Jobe’s Organics or Espoma, offer slow-release options suitable for prayer plants.

3.3 Homemade fertilizers

Finally let’s talk about homemade fertilizers which have the advantage of low cost (sometimes almost zero), also allows you to recycle waste and know exactly what we are using to fertilize our plants. Among the best homemade fertilizers that you can use for these plants are:

  1. Banana Peel Fertilizer: Banana peels are rich in potassium and can be chopped up and buried in the soil as a homemade fertilizer.
  2. Eggshell Fertilizer: Crushed eggshells are a source of calcium and can be sprinkled on the soil surface to provide nutrients as they break down.
  3. Epsom Salt Solution: Dissolving Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) in water and applying it to the soil can provide magnesium and sulfur, which can benefit your prayer plant.
  4. Coffee Grounds: Used coffee grounds can be mixed into the soil or sprinkled on the surface to provide nitrogen and organic matter.
  5. Compost tea: Compost is my favorite homemade fertilizer. Both for its large amount of nutrients and for its ability to take advantage of organic waste from our home. When it comes to indoor plants such as prayer plants, I prefer to prepare a tea with the fertilizer because it makes it easier for me to apply it in the pot.

4. When to fertilize prayer plant


Knowing what type of fertilizer to use is important, but if you don’t apply it at the wrong time, you will end up damaging the plant. The ideal time and frequency to fertilize your prayer plants depends on many factors. Among the most common we can mention the season of the year, the type of fertilizer and the area or environment where you have the plant.

Below I will leave you four general guidelines that will help you know when you should fertilize your prayer plants.

  1. Active growing season: The months in which the Marantas grow and develop actively are the hot ones, that is, summer and spring. That is why it is in this period where you will have to concentrate the application of fertilizers.
  2. Monthly or bimonthly fertilization: Depending on the type of fertilizer you are going to use will be the frequency with which you must apply it. But for example if you use a classic balanced liquid fertilizer 10-10-10 you can apply it once a month or every two months.
  3. Reduced fertilization in winter: During the months in which the plant is not active, fertilization should be reduced. What’s more, I don’t directly fertilize my prayer plants during the fall and winter. I start fertilizing in the first days of spring.
  4. Watch for plant signals: It is important to always keep a close eye on your plants. Plants give signals when something is wrong. Due to the characteristics of the Marantas, these signs will be seen on their leaves. If you notice the leaves turning yellow, this could indicate a nutrient deficiency. It might be an appropriate time to lightly fertilize.

Remember that it is essential not to overfertilize your Marantas, as they can be sensitive to excess nutrients. It is always better to go a little short than to go overboard. Monitor the growth and health of your plants and adjust the frequency of fertilization accordingly. Each plant is unique and your needs may vary depending on the specific conditions of your environment.

5. How to fertilize prayer plant


We have already seen which are the best fertilizers for prayer plants and when to apply them. With that information we will put together a fertilization plan so you know exactly how to fertilize.

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The following fertilization plan is mixed, that is, we will use both organic and synthetic fertilizers. In this way we try to take advantage of the benefits of both fertilizers.

5.1 Spring and summer (active growing season):

Begin applying fertilizer in the early days of spring. At this time to give the plant a quick boost you will use a balanced liquid fertilizer (10-10-10 or 20-20-20). You can apply this once a month.

Read the instructions on the bottle carefully. But I recommend that you dilute it a little more than what the bottle indicates. It is better to go short than to over fertilize. Over time and with more experience you can increase the dose based on the results.

Every three months replace the liquid fertilizer with one of the organic alternatives. I personally recommend using compost tea, which is organic, homemade, and easy to apply.

5.2 Autumn and Winter (Rest Season):

Not forget during these months it is convenient to drastically reduce the frequency of fertilization. You can stop fertilizing completely to let the plant rest, or at most fertilize every 3 or 4 months.

As a last piece of advice, I can tell you that the rotation of fertilizers is good for the soil and for the plants. So you don’t always stay with the same fertilization plan. It is good to vary the sources of nutrients from time to time.

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