Prayer Plant

abigail1280(8)July 9, 2010

Hey everyone! I have a prayer plant a friend gave to me. She didn't know much about it, and it was pretty pathetic looking. It only had about 5 leaves. Now it's got 8 leaves and it seems like it's always got a new one ready to open. I just noticed a gnat flying around it, and that over the last few days, the soil is retaining too much water. So, I'm planning to repot it and I've learned that it's in too big of a pot, so I'm gonna downsize. Does anyone have a recommendation on soil and perhaps what pot size I should go with?

This was it a few weeks ago:

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paul_(z5 MI)

Lovely plant! Your pot size probably isn't the issue so much as the media being used. I'm sure others more knowledgable will chime in but in the mean time you might search for "Al's gritty mix" on the GW forums. A number of folks are using it and seem to like it. (Btw, in my experience, this plant seems to like humidity in the 60% + range.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:32PM
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Prayer plants like good draining soil. Don't over water let it almost dry out and water throughly. They also like high temps with high humidity. I use the catus soil from miracle grow myself. All my plants seem to like it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 11:09PM
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It depends on the roots. 4" pot should be you know its size?
Most people think Maranta/Prayer Plants require soaking, wet soil, but they don't.
It's humidity they need. Soil should dry (tad) between waterings, and fresh air is VERY important.
The pot looks too large, 'though pics can be deceiving,' and big pots mean excess soil. Wet soil = Fungus Gnats.
Shallow, succulent pots work well. Toni
PS. It's a very nice-looking Prayer Plant, though.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 4:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree with Paul. You can grow in any size pot you like if your soil drains freely enough. Shallow pots are much more difficult to grow in than deeper pots unless you are using a soil that holds no, or almost no perched water; then, they are roughly on a par with deep pots. To go along with this observation, it's important to realize that most bagged soils with the highest fraction being peat/compost/coir support several inches of perched water ..... which isn't at all a good combination with a shallow pot.

Because PPs often have difficulty moving enough water to the top of the plant, good root health and low nutrient levels in the soil (solution) are important if your plant is to remain attractive. Well-aerated and durable soils also promote efficient root function/metabolism, and help guard against salts accumulation because you can always water properly w/o worrying about root rot.

Most hobby growers give all glory to the foliage and blooms, but it's the roots that are toiling away unseen and doing all the heavy lifting that are the very heart of the plant. Treat the roots well & attractive plants will almost always follow.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:38PM
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Thank you for all the advice. I repotted it and moved it into a slightly smaller pot, and gave it much better draining soil. It seems pretty happy. My friend had it in a plastic container ... how to describe it ... clear, and the sides were molded like a woven basket. That sat in a wide, shallow pot. She said it had other plants in it at one point. No drainage holes. More decorative than any good for the poor plants that were in it. The plant was sitting on her mantle, and hardly receiving any light at all. She kept the pot, and I brought the plant home, and repotted it. I was really shocked at how small the root system was. I actually thought I had broken off a lot of roots on accident and it would die. I read about how they love humidity and I've been misting it every day, and it's flourished. When I repotted it this time, the root system has definitely grown, though it's still small (much smaller than the top part). But the plant seems pretty happy. I have another green prayer plant that I found at our military commissary for $2 a while ago. It's leaves are much smaller, but it's absolutely gorgeous!! About to go there again, and I'm going to have to resist the urge to bring home another plant!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 1:33PM
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Abigail, Marantas/Calatheas, etc, have shallow roots. Did you say you repotted the Maranta in a pot w/o drainage?
EEEEKKK! lol. Be very careful. Even if soil is well-draining, it won't have anywhere to escape, other than the bottom of the pot. Or did I misunderstand??

Chances are you didn't break roots..they're tiny. That's the reason I suggested a shallow pot. Plastic is preferable.

Is the second Prayer Plant the same as the first? If you like Marantas, you have to find the variegated type. It's gorgeous. Similar to yours but leaves also have white spots. Another Prayer, common name, Rabbits Paw, has black spots in the green.

And yes, they dote on humidity and fresh air. Do you watch its leaves close as night approaches? They flower, too..little purple blooms. Good luck, Toni
PS. Keep misting..

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 1:59PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Abigail - almost all bagged soils retain what is called 'perched water'. This is water that defies gravity and stays in the pot because the size of particles in the soil is small. Think of pudding, which is nothing more than very small absorbent particles. Most commercially prepared soils support 2-4" of perched water, even when fresh from the bag. This means that no matter the shape or depth of the container, the bottom 2-4" of soil remains completely saturated after the pot has stopped draining. When you use these soils in a shallow pot, it can be a disaster. If you use a soil that supports 3" of perched water in a 4" deep pot, nearly ALL the soil will be completely saturated every time you water. If you try to water in small sips to avoid the saturated soil that causes root rot, you ensure that salt from tap water and fertilizer solutions will build up in the soil and cause the symptoms your plant is exhibiting. Please avoid the combination of soils like MG or other peat-based soils and shallow pots - they don't work well together.

The root system of your plant is small because of adverse cultural conditions (too much water and or salt), not because it is genetically programmed to be small. If you use a well-aerated and fast draining soil, even plants that have the shallowest root systems where they naturally occur will fully and happily colonize the the entire container with roots. You don't need a shallow pot to accommodate plants that grow with shallow root systems where they occur naturally. Shallow pots are simply more difficult to grow in and reduce your (watering) margin for error considerably. Using a plastic pot only makes the probability of root issues greater. A terra cotta pot, even if you utilize a cache pot to hide it, is much healthier for your root system than plastic - especially if the pot is shallow. Terra cotta is gas permeable & allows some evaporation through the pot walls. This allows air to return to the soil much faster when using heavy soils, a huge plus for your plant.

I wouldn't mist. Misting does nothing to raise the humidity around your plant, unless you mist every few minutes. Misting, especially during the humid days of summer, provides the moist incubation periods that fungal infections need to get started. It also helps top spread infections from leaf to leaf or plant to plant. If your plant is unable to keep up with transpirational needs, misting is not the answer. You'll need to raise humidity levels in the plant's environment and make sure there is a low level of soluble salts in the soil solution. You achieve this by regularly flushing the soil and being smart about the way you fertilize.

You can expect your plant to continually decline if it's in a pot that doesn't have a drain hole, and the appearance if the foliage to get worse. The reason comes back to the soluble salts issue I mentioned. W/o a drain hole to enable to flush the soil of salts, it is impossible to keep a plant from steady decline, except under the most carefully controlled circumstances, which include organic nutrient sources and watering only with distilled water - a costly pain.

Take care.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:41PM
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I think you guys misunderstood me. My friend had the plant in a pot with no drainage holes. I repotted it in a pot with drainage holes. So with the whole humidity thing, could I put it outside? I have a screened in porch, so it wouldn't be in direct sunlight. It's very humid here. I live on the North Carolinian Coast, and the humidity doesn't really go away ... even at night. But it's very hot. Most days in the 90s or 100s. Since I've had both of my prayer plants, they've been shooting out new leaves on a very regular basis. Even since I repotted this one over the weekend, it's started on a new leaf.

My other plant was listed on the tag as a green prayer plant. It's leaves are light green with darker green spots, though here lately, it's started producing light green leaves with dark red spots.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 7:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It will love it outside in the shade (on the porch). Actually, that's where it was meant to be. Remember that high humidity is helpful, but the root cause of burned foliage tips/margins is usually not CAUSED by low humidity, though it can be exacerbated by it. Necrotic leaf tips and margins are more rightly blamed on a high level of fertility and/or a high level of undesirable salts accumulating in the soil. This is true of most houseplants that plague their growers with various foliage blemishes.

Sorry about the 'drainage hole' thing, but it's a point too important to go unconfirmed. I'm glad you have it covered.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 8:49PM
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