prayer plant help!

juskeepswimmingAugust 31, 2008

my friend gave me one of her prayer plants yesterday..which was kept outside in direct sunlight and in a small...2 inch pot. i think that there are actually 3 plants because there are three stems that come out of the soil, but i could be mistaken. 2 of the leaves were completely dried and 2 were semi brown. i cut the 2 completely dried up leaves off and one of the semi brown ones as well, but left the other. most leaves have slightly curled edges and discoloration. i re potted with basic miracle grow potting soil into an 8 inch pot today, and decided to keep it next to my open-top fish tank for humidity; the area i have it in does not receive any direct sunlight. i watered very lightly after repotting. i also sprayed the plant with water this morning. most of the leaves, besides a couple of the smaller ones, have a faded color to them. am i doing enough to revive this plant? suggestions would be appreciated !

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the Maranta (prayer plant) appreciates high humidity and filtered light. In putting it outside when it was, it was going against all that it needed. I'm surprised it survived at all.

The leaves, they will fold at night (letting you know the plant is trying to conserve moisture and when it opens the next morning, is telling you the light is right.

The plant was in a 2" pot....
that's hard to believe too...a plant can survive in such a small pot. But having done so, your putting it into a much larger pot was not the thing to do.

Think of it this way. You sit down to normal meals and when you are full, you push yourself away from the table.

Not so of this plant. You have seated it in front of all what that 8" pot will deliver...which is much too mucch.
The plant, coming from such a small pot, cant take up all the food and will definitely feel it. It will die in short order.

Transplant anytime from a pot of one size to another pot of one size up only. i.e. from 2" 4"..4" to 6"....from 6" to 8".
From 8" to 10 or 12"...
It can depend a lot on the health of the plant and whether it can succeed by being nourished by more soil. A very large plant can put up with being given much more.
A smaller one...not so.

The maranta does like humdity...a hundity tray might be better than the fishtank. Or, with a spray bottle that will spray small misty water can be used.
Any leaves that appear not right....remove them.

When you water, try to water always to drainage and dump the excess after a reasonable time to let it drain.
Let water for the plant be allowed to gain room temperature and be allowed to sit overnight. Much of the fluorine in the water will dissipate. Try to not take water directly from the tap. If by chance you are on a softening system, don't use this water; take it from a tap offline.

As winter approaches, the plant will require much less watering, and maybe you can put it closer to light as it diminishes.

If the plant appears not in the best of health, you might take a cutting from it and try to bring that along.
Mind you, it is never a good idea to try to take a cutting from an unhealthy plant. What sickness is in one, will follow in the new one.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 3:25PM
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The original plant might well have only been one plant: Marantas use subterranean runners to produce new shoots above ground, so three shoots in a pot might (or might not) all be connected below the soil. For what it's worth.

Miracle Gro soil is too heavy to use for most houseplants. It holds water for a long time, and then turns into an unwettable brick if it gets dried out; both extremes are bad for the plant. (Too wet and it rots, too dry and it can't easily be watered again.) If you have to use it, mix it with perlite or vermiculite, but it's better to get a bagged potting soil which is mostly composted bark. Ball makes one I like a lot, but there are others. Avoid anything that says or includes topsoil: it will have the same bad qualities as Miracle Gro.

Also, yes, moving a plant from 2" to 8" in one go is too much. You probably actually want a 4" plastic one. Too big of a pot will prevent oxygen from getting to the roots when they need it, and lead to root rot.

The faded color on the couple leaves is probably due to sunburn. It's not really reversible, but I wouldn't cut them off yet either. The browned leaves and leaf edges is most likely because of too much heat or not enough humidity. I doubt there was any actual disease going on; it sounds like a fairly straightforward case of too hot / too bright / too dry.

I would repot the plant as soon as possible into a better soil mix and a smaller pot.

Your instincts are right about the humidity, though I've tried placing plants close to a fish tank for humidity before and not had it work out particularly well. (It's still better than nothing.) I'm not a huge fan of misting, either; I don't think it lasts long enough to be terribly useful. A humidifier might be less trouble in the long run, or you could try moving the plant to a bright (no sun) spot in a humid room, like a bathroom or near a kitchen sink. I've had good luck with raising some humidity-loving plants (including Maranta) in a bathroom, with a fluorescent light as the only source of light.

It's a little extra trouble, but if you move your plant to the shower or to a kitchen sink sprayer when you water, you won't have to worry about fluoride or chlorine. Most people water with a watering can and don't dump out any water that flows out of the pot. This means that when the water evaporates or is taken up by the plant, any minerals dissolved in the water stay behind, including fluoride. Over time, this build up can harm plants. If you're watering thoroughly from overhead every time and don't make the plant stand in its drainage water, the minerals can flow through the soil, and don't get a chance to build up.

Jeannie is correct that you don't want to use softened water, which contains enough sodium to cause problems even if it doesn't build up in the soil.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 4:07PM
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okay, so my plan is to get a 4 inch pot and re pot the plant into that one. i cannot get a hold of any different kind of soil right now so i hope the soil i have right now will do. but for future reference, what would the most ideal soil be? subjunctive suggested a brand called Ball.. would peat moss be okay ? i really have no experience in plants which is why i came here for advice. i really believe that humidity is not a problem because i live really close to the beach and its hot and humid here during the summer. so, my main concerns right now are the pot size and the soil. humidity third, and is there anything else? i have cut off the other brownish/dried leaves off today.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 8:54PM
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I cant comment on the particular brand named soil....but would hazard a thought that with the name Miracle Gro...and made by one of the most reputable concerns in gardening, that what is put out by Scott's Corp'n is a product that can be trusted.

Its potting soil would I think be trusted by most people who are shopping for such a product.
Now there are indeed potting soils that do turn hard like clay after a time when watered. Mostly you can tell these by the price. Sales of items at times that sales are not necessary should warn the buyer he/she might be buying something that ordinarily wouldn't sell well.
In that sense I think price is something to go by.
And the brand name Miracle Gro would I think be trusted by most shopping for a product in their line.

But there are other brand names out there. Sometimes a gardening center will only stock certain brand per a contract from a supplier and one might find it difficult to see other named soils.
One can only go by experience and by name.
If one has a complaint against a national brand such as Scott's Miracle Gro, surely it would pay dividends for someone to e-mail the company and ask for explaination why a product has so displeased.

Justkeepswimming, instead of a "potting soil", you might visit a gardening center or nursery and ask for a potting mix--usually a product with the intent to get plants off to a good start by seeing to its good draining capabilities.
Potting 'mixes' usually have none...or very little actual soil. They are mostly made up of the products that do drain well. Perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, smf sand.
When gardeners speak of 'sand', they are referring to a type that has larger particles and go by the names "builders sand", "construction sand", or just plain "coarse sand".
Never use the sand used in a playbox or from the beach, it holds too much water and would harden the soil.

Sometimes you can tell what's in a bag of potting soil by its weight. Most bags of potting soil do contain some clay.
The heavier it is you can count on more clay being the base of it.
But light bags too, might just contain much more peat moss than is necessary. So all you can do is experiment, heft a bag and feel the weight or...while someone's not looking, poke your finger into the bag and feel it. Usually there is a bag or two that has opened and spilled some of the contents. Pick some up, feel it in your hands, squeeze it.
If it holds its form, it has some goodness in it.
If it falls apart and drifts through your fingers, look for another bag.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 11:25AM
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jeannie, thanks so much for the soil information.
i have another question: you say the 8" pot will provide TOO MUCH food for my plant? so if i cannot get a 4" pot right away, would it be okay for me to remove about half of the soil and keep the plant in an 8" pot that is only filled halfway or less with soil? would that be in a sense, the same as transferring to a 4" pot?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 1:40PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The situation with the container size is not a matter of food, but of stagnation. Re-read Mr subjunctive's post. A peaty, slow-to-drain potting medium (like MiracleGrow, by the way) can create an environment in which your plant cannot extract any oxygen. Once that begins to happen, the fragile root hairs begin to die causing some very serious problems for our plants.

The typical bagged potting mix is soil-less, meaning that it has NO clay, thank goodness! You can purchase pottings soils with clay in them, but they are terribly inferior, and best used for the garden bed.

Most potting mixes can be improved in a jiffy be adding a generous complement of perlite, as much as 50%. I'd stay away from vermiculite, which collapses quite quickly once moistened. Your goal, remember, is fast drainage and porosity. Oxygen is required by those roots just as much as water.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 3:17PM
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Umkay. We've had this conversation before, some time ago on another thread, and I'm not especially interested in having it again, so this will be my last word on the subject.

Miracle Gro contains lots of peat because peat is cheap. A lot of tropical plants one can buy at grocery stores / big box stores / wherever are also potted in mostly-peat mixes. Same reason. Customers won't pay extra for a plant with better dirt, so no sane grower is going to pay extra to plant his/r plants in better dirt.

Peat, once wet, stays wet for a long time, which can suffocate roots by keeping out oxygen. Once it dries out, its surface becomes kind of water-repellent. This means that if you let your plant get too dry, you'll find it difficult to get the soil wet again. This is also a problem, because it can dry plants out, by keeping water away from the roots.

As far as Miracle Gro being a "trusted" brand, well sure. And if I had that much money to spend on advertising, I could be a trusted brand too. People trust a lot of things they shouldn't. The point is not who makes the product, it's what the product is: Jesus himself could descend from Heaven and give me a bag of soil mix he'd made personally, and if it was mostly peat I'd tell him thanks, but it's too hard to water peat, and give it back.

I don't need to e-mail Scott's to complain about this, because as a consumer I can just buy something else: Scott's isn't a monopoly (yet). If they want my business, they'll reformulate their product, and if they don't, they won't. I also don't need to ask for an explanation: I know the explanation.

There are worse products to plant things in (topsoil, freshly-poured concrete, waldorf salad). It's possible, if you're really on-top of your watering, to grow a plant just fine in Miracle Gro, and I don't mind if you do. But it's going to be more difficult.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 5:22PM
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One could take apart just about any product sold and make wild, uninformed, ill-conceived, and highly inflammatory things to say about it.
I'm no soil scientist so I have to trust my good senses whether something that my plants are taking root in, are living quite well in, is half-decent.

I like peat moss for what it does for the texture of soil.
Yes, once wetted with warm water, it mixes well with soil and holds water. Whether it holds water too much...I don't have a testing meter for that either, I use the old finger in the soil method. If the plant is growing well, then I trust the soil is doing its job.

I fertilize as well figuring the plant needs to be fed.
I don't worry about mineral salts build-up, the plant will tell me if something is going on and I should investigate the soil and the roots.

One might mistrust any person or persons reputation as far as what product they sell. If you wish to look for something about their honesty, I'm sure you can find it.
I, on the other hand, don't believe everybody is a crook, looking out to cheat.
If a product that Scott's sells doesn't meet with the average gardeners' use, then that product wouldn't long be on the market. Its only by trust that a product gets known...and yes, advertising does make a big difference.
Say it often enough you can sell a refrigerator to an Inuit living out on the ice.
But most gardeners are not stupid enough to keep using a product that doesn't do what they think it should.
So Scott Corporation makes more and more garden products and convinces the gardening public that their product is good to use. I'd hazard a guess that Miracle Gro...15/30/15
is the most used flower fertilizer on the market.
The ingredients meets all experts opinions on what elements should be used and while there are many products with the smae forumula, 15/30/15....Miracle Gro is the one most seen on shelves.
Their Miracid is also well received for those plants that prefer acidness be given their soil.

To go outside the confines of what is widely available may suit some, but for me I'm satisfied that my plants will be the ones that know best.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 6:21PM
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ill try to make a mixture of 50% soil, and 50% perlite for now, and the best i can do right now is transfer to a 6" pot. i will update later

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:18PM
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