Skip to Content

Prayer Plants at Night vs. During the Day (A Unique Rhythm)

Prayer Plants at Night vs. During the Day (A Unique Rhythm)

Share this post:

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page might be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Prayer plants are popular house plants loved for their exquisite variegated foliage. Yet, their unique leaf movements are what truly makes them special.

If you own one, you know that a prayer plant at night vs. during the day is a sight to behold.

During the day, the leaves lie flat and move at different angles, depending on the light source. At night, they fold up as if in prayer.

So, what causes these movements? Do you have to worry if they don’t move at all?

In the following sections, we’ll discuss everything there is to know regarding the behavior of prayer plants. Keep reading!

Why Does My Prayer Plant Close at Night?

Nyctinasty is the rhythmic movement of higher-order plants in response to changes in light conditions.

Pulvinus cells located at the leaf base are responsible for this mechanism. They cause swelling and contraction influenced by turgor pressure from water movement.

In some plants, nyctinasty manifests through the opening and closing of flowers, such as in tulips and magnolias.

In other species, the leaves exhibit movement, which is the case with prayer plants.

During the day, the leaves spread out to gain maximum sunlight exposure. They move accordingly and follow the sun’s path as much as possible.

When night time comes, the leaves move vertically and close due to the absence of sunlight.

Why this happens is something that needs more study to this day. However, experts theorize that it can be for any of the following reasons:

1 – Water Retention

It’s believed that prayer plants use leaf movements to conserve water. In particular, the vertical position allows water from rainfall or condensates to fall through the leaves.

Doing so leads moisture to the soil and roots instead of evaporating.

As a result of water retention, the internal temperature is regulated. This helps achieve the optimal temperature range for the plant’s growth.

2 – Prevent Pest Attacks

Leaf closure at night is also theorized as an adaptation for survival. That’s because curled-up leaves hide the tasty parts of the plant.

Correspondingly, your prayer plant becomes a lesser target for bugs and other insects.

Spider mite is an example of this. It causes black dots along with yellow and brown discoloration on foliage.

Sometimes the mites may leave out webbing on the surface.

3 – Prevent Fungal Growth

Another possible reason why leaves close is to prevent fungal growth.

In the evening, relative humidity is normally higher than in the day. Plus, evaporation is much less.

That being said, plants tend to stay damp and moist during this period. These conditions, however, favor fungal growth.

By folding up, prayer plants channel the moisture downwards, preventing build-up. In turn, this minimizes the risk of damaging fungal growth.

For instance, the Helminthosporium fungus leaves water-soaked spots that turn yellow and eventually spread.

Once you observe this on your plant, you can apply neem oil to it.

Why Does My Prayer Plant Open at Night?

Generally, a prayer plant closes when night falls. Yet, the leaves may remain open or move at any time in some scenarios.

If your prayer plant exhibits such behavior, it doesn’t mean it’s in a bad shape. The following factors may lead to this occurrence:

1 – Light Exposure

Again, sunlight is the main factor affecting the movement of prayer plants. However, artificial light sources that simulate the sunlight spectrum can do the same.

Suppose you’re using grow lights. If you use them on your prayer plant or nearby and keep them on round the clock, leaves may stay open.

Still, you may observe movements when light intensities change.

2 – Lack of Water

As mentioned, water pressure affects leaf turgidity. So it stands to reason that inadequate water in the plant system won’t be able to support the leaf movement.

In that case, you’ll need to check for underwatering issues.

Prayer plants prefer moist soil so don’t leave it dry out. When at least half of the soil is dry, make sure to water it.

You’ll need to check humidity levels as well. Remember, prayer plants grow best with humid air.

3 – Repotting

Stress may be a factor that your prayer plant won’t fold up. For instance, if it has been re-potted recently, you’ll notice fewer and subtlermovements.

If you used a well-draining pot and soil, just wait as your plant acclimatizes. It’ll go back to its natural rhythm soon enough.

4 – Gaseous Exchange

Gas exchange is a possible reason why your plant opens up at night. This process mostly happens during the day.

However, it also occurs at night, although restricted. By opening the plant leaves, the surface area increases, allowing more efficient exchange.

Why Does My Prayer Plant Close During the Day?

Similar to how prayer plants open at night, they may unusually close during the day as well. Any of the following reasons may lead to this:

1 – Lack of Sunlight

Prayer plants thrive best in shady and warm areas. However, they won’t fully open unless they’re exposed to sunlight.

If you keep your plant in the dark, there’s a high chance it’ll close even during the day. The same is true when there’s insufficient light in gloomy weather.

Place it in a location with optimal exposure to bright indirect sunlight.

2 – Underwatering

Lack of water in your prayer plant can keep it closed during the day.

That’s especially true in too-hot conditions, where your plant will want to conserve as much moisture as it can.

Placing a humidifier or a bucket with water can raise the humidity level around your plant. This can ease the stress and help it open up.

Spraying water on the leaves is also beneficial in this regard.

Lastly, re-evaluate your watering habits to prevent this from happening again.

What Are the Signs of a Healthy Prayer Plant?

Certain leaf movements are normal. That’s why it’s easy to dismiss leaf rolls and curls.

Nevertheless, you can stay on top of other issues by knowing when you have a healthy plant.

Glossy, bright green leaves and healthy roots indicate a happy plant. Active growth displayed by leaves and flowers is a good sign too.

All the same, watch out for unusual leaf behaviors. They can mean inadequate lighting, which may require changing the plants’ location.

Leaf curls can also mean overwatering and underwatering problems. So, make sure to check soil moisture levels at times.

Extreme temperatures may induce curling as well. Keep in mind that prayer plants thrive in temperatures between 60–75°F.

Are Prayer Plants Nocturnal?

Prayer plants are diurnal plants, and not nocturnal since they follow a nyctinastic rhythm. Their movement heavily relies on sunlight and once it gets dark, the leaves close up.

Although, they may still become active at night, given the conditions we’ve mentioned above.

Prayer Plant Care Tips

Providing proper care to your prayer plant is essential in keeping its natural movements. Check out the tips below to aid you in this:

  • Water at least once a week or when the soil is half-dry
  • Expose the plant to bright, indirect sunlight
  • Wipe the leaves occasionally with a cloth to remove dust and debris
  • Re-pot if there’s root-bounding
  • Perform stem cutting to encourage more growth

Final Thoughts

Prayer plant at night vs. during the day is a picture of leaves folded in the evening and slowly spreading out with the light of day.

This mechanism is called nyctinasty, which scientists believe allows water retention and temperature regulation for optimal growth.

Additionally, closing up prevents pest attacks and fungal growth, making it critical to survival.

Nevertheless, several factors can cause unusual behaviors. That includes leaves opening up at night or closing in the morning due to light and water conditions.

All the same, keep your prayer plant healthy with our care tips and see it move in its natural rhythm.

Share this post: