Prayer Plant slowly dying

hammerplantJuly 14, 2010

Hello all, I've got this prayer plant that is fading away on me and I don't know how to save it. I made the plant from two cuttings taken from another prayer plant that died on me. It grew like crazy for the first year but has been dying off since. It used to look like this:

Two years later, it looks like this:

When parts of it started dying off, I thought maybe it was getting too much light, so I moved it to another table where there is less light, but that didn't help. I have just now moved it back to the same location as in the pictures. I've tried watering it more, watering it less, doesn't make any difference. I've tried feeding it with 12-12-18, doesn't seem to help. Funny thing is, the plant is still blooming, which is usually a sign of a healthy plant, but leaf growth is very slow, poor quality and short-lived. It is dying faster than it is growing. The humidity is usually above 50% and the temperature is usually 20-27C. What can I do? Am I missing something? Thanks.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Some forms of stress cause plants to bloom more abundantly. N deficiencies and tight roots come first to mind as stimulating plants to bloom.

There IS a drain hole in your pot? If you're using a cache pot, you're removing the plant from the cache pot until the pot the plant is in stops draining - yes? Did anyone understand that? I barely know what I wrote. ;o) .....and you've checked carefully for evidence of insect infestation?

My guess is that you're either over-watering or you've allowed soluble salts from tap water and fertilizer solution to build up in the soil. There's almost no doubt it's fixable.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:14PM
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Thanks for the reply. Yes there are holes in the plastic pot which I have sitting in the cache pot. I don't normally remove it but I did today. There wasn't any standing water. There is a significant amount of roots poking out the bottom of the pot, as though they were trying to get water out of the cache pot. It that a sign of over/under watering or just normal? I don't think I've been over-watering, I water all my plants about twice a week.

There is no evidence of insects. Poor soil would appear to be the culprit. I did let it go many months without fertilizing. Should I re-pot the plant with fresh soil, or keep feeding it and see what happens?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 6:38PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Because now is the best time of the year to repot it, and it will respond so favorably to repotting, I'd go for it in a heartbeat. I don't want to sound like I'm preaching, but if you put it back into the same peaty soil you're using, you'll likely have the same issues next year because you can't water properly during winter w/o risking root rot. Fast draining soils allow you to water properly and help you keep salt levels at their lowest. It's the soluble salt levels that leaves growers bemoaning the appearance of their plants' foliage.

When we water, we should remove the plant from the cache pot or collection saucer; or, if using a saucer - put the pot up on a block so the water in the saucer cannot reach the soil. Leaving the pot IN the saucer or cache pot and emptying it later negates the benefit of flushing the soil because the level of salt in the collection saucer quickly reaches isotonicity (equal salt levels) with the water remaining in the soil solution.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 8:50PM
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The biggest need for this houseplant is humidity. It requires high humidity levels to flourish, so a daily misting will go far. If the tips of the foliage begin to brown your plant may not be getting the humidity it needs. They also require a steady, moderate temperature and humid air.

Here is a link that might be useful: hammerplant

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 12:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree with the fact that this plant prefers an environment where humidity runs on the high side, but the effects of misting last only a few minutes or seconds, depending on how dry the room is. If you can't raise the humidity of the air surrounding the plant on a more permanent basis, misting will be ineffectual.

The best thing you can do for this plant is to use a soil that allows you to water properly w/o risking root rot, in combination with the raising of the relative humidity in the room 24/7. That is to say, a soil that you can flush each time you water, which removes accumulating salts. It is these accumulating salts and over-watering that are primarily responsible for the impaired root function that prevents efficient movement of water to the plants most distal parts (leaf tips and margins) and causes the spoiled foliage.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Marantas defintely go into a state of semi-dormancy each winter. When that occurs, you must allow the soil to approach dryness between controlled waterings. Soil should be kept evenly moist during the remainder of the year when the plant is in its active growth cycle. With this plant, it's VERY important to withhold ALL fertilizer during that period of semi-dormancy.

There are some plants that have an adverse reaction to water that is heavily treated with floride, and (based on my experience) I happen to think Maranta is one of them. If your water is heavily treated, allow it to set in an open container for 24 hrs (at a minimum) before watering your Maranta. Because I believe Marantas to have an adverse reaction to floride, I prepare a soil mix for them that does NOT contain perlite.

I'm linking to a U of Florida site that may be helpful. (Pay special attention to the section titled 'Physiological Problems'.) The site exists primarily for commercial growers of foliage plants, but I refer to it often when I need really helpful assistance. If you explore the site, you'll find good info on lots of house plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maranta Info

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 7:42PM
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