Maranta Prayer Plant is struggling

jkatz1September 14, 2013

Nothing I do for this plant seems to make it happy! The edges of the lower leaves have all turned brown. I've tried various sun exposures but am not sure which is best. Right now it is about 8 feet away from an east facing window. I've also tried over the last few months to have it right next to that window as well as in the middle of a long room with east and west facing windows. I live in Baltimore which constantly feels like a bathtub because of the high humidity, and I mist the plant every day, so humidity is not the issue. I water it about once every two weeks depending on the soils dryness - I usually let it get mostly dry but not totally bone-dry before watering. The upper leaves look healthy. The plant never folds its leaves at night but rather pulls them upright a little and let's them droop lower during the day. I wish it would curl up! Any ideas about how to keep this plant happier would be appreciated.

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Hi J,

Maranta's are fussy plants. I can't tell you the number I've purchased only to have them die.
I have a Prayer Plant's about 1-year, but surely won't win any awards. :)

Prayer Plants burn in direct summer sun. Especially in west windows.

What about temp? They prefer cooler temps..
Our local conservatory plants Marantas directly in floor soil. 'no pots.'
The room is fairly cool..even cooler in-ground.

Brown foliage will not turn green, so you might as well cut dead leaves.
One thing about Marantas, if a stem/trunk dies, another pops up in its place..Although it takes time.

What about fertilizer? Do you fertilizer? How often and dose?

Although some may disagree, slow-growing plants need less fertilizer than fast-growers.

Too much chemical fertilizer can brown leaves. Maybe leaching soil will help????

I usually fertilize Prayer Plants, Calathea, Stromanthe, Ctenanthe, 'plants in the Marantaceae family, with Fish Emulsion, when new growth forms. Usually spring and early autumn..When summers are too hot, they halt growth.

Honestly, growing Marantas indoors is difficult. Especially in cold, dry areas.

Do you water with tap water? If so, let water sit over-night. Or use rain water.

Once you find THE spot, let your Maranta be. :)

Hope this helps.
BTW, as I said, Maranta/Prayer Plants are fussy, Calatheas/Stromanths/Ctenanthe's are hardier, adapt to indoor growing. Toni

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 2:15PM
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you should not let it get even half dry - it should be 'evenly moist' at all times (which of course is not that easy to achieve;)). watering once every 2 weeks - there's smth wrong there: what type of soil are you using? your pot looks very small to me - how large is it? at a guess, for 6" pot and a healthy plant - once or even twice a week is more like it.
pull it out of the pot gently (a few days after you water, when the soil is still moist and holding together) - and take a pic. lets see what the root look like.
east window or even west should be fine, provided the light is dappled: filtered thru half-closed blinds or filtered thru sheers.
i am assuming your humidity is high, but it would be best to get a humidity meter to actually measure it.
if it's high, it should not be necessary to mist it every day.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 8:13PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

As has been alluded to but not stated outright, Maranta also desire high humidity. I have given up on them, personally. I simply cannot provide them with the conditions they desire -- particularly not during the fall/winter months.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Pet, I agree with everything you said, except the watering part. :)

During warm days of summer, I agree, soil should kept evenly moist, 'but not soppy wet.'

Winter is different. Watering depends on various factors during cold months.
Room temp, light, humidity, and soil type.

If Maranta or any other tropical is potted in soil-less mix, or in a warm room, yes, plant will need more water.
However, if Maranta is planted in soil...or room temp is chilly, plant will need less water.
Therefore, watering twice a week would cause rot.

I also agree a hygrometer is very usefull.

Jkats...hygrometers are sold at plant and hardware stores. Two of my hygrometers were purchased at Ace Hardware, years ago..Still working, both accurate, 7.00 each.

Paul. I say the same thing. lol. Then, I'll go shopping, and on a shelf will be a beautiful Prayer Plant..On sale!
Okay, I'll try, one more time. :)

My current Prayer Plant was purchased at a grocery store..think it was on the 1.00 rack...several plants were purchased at the same grocery store for 1.00.
Potted in 4" containers, and healthy.

BTW, although Calatheas, Stromanthes, and Ctenanthes require humidity, they're hardier than Maranta Prayer Plants..They're related.. Don't give up just yet. :) Toni

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 11:23AM
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toni, i agree,of course, that in winter IF temsp are lower and with less light they require less water.
but OP described the situation of past summer? hi humidity and hi temps with once ev 2 wks watering? that's what i was alluding to as 'not sufficient' .
'mostly dry but not bone-dry' - is def a wrong thing to do to marantha/cals.
there was an int. post a few moths back about
medallion cal (picturata? roseopicta?), being watered quite well at all times and doing beautifully , just outstanding.
it was speciosa? that posted. i'd be curious to know how it's kept in winter. i'll go reread it again.
BUT! if temps are warm and lighting is good and plant is growing there is no need to reduce watering, unless you want to stop it from growing to get a break for yourself ;).
but then browned leaves result. lots of people complain that cals /maranthas look very ragged by spring.
would be nice to figure out what to do to prevent it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 1:55PM
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I am on the same boat!!! lol

The only room in my house that is moist enough all winter stays very cold.
The greenhouse is already to crowed and I am sure it would love it in there.

But, but, I have yet to grow one of these plants in my Some day.
Hi Toni!!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 1:58PM
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The answer...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:04PM
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Well isn't that something Aslleep!!!

And not only do you provide humidity, you are keeping it confined from filling your home with future mold issues...


Do you use fans to keep the air circulating since some plants could rot with too much moisture and no air movement or even get disease....

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:21PM
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All of this is true and as of the moment,nope so I'm at risk somewhat,yes. All to be dealt with in time of course. :)

In my experience the only time I wasn't killing a cal was when it was in a terrarium...and certainly over winter.

Figured I'd pass along the tip to those who otherwise would not have considered it.
And thank you for the additional tips!
Those who are going to take this more seriously than I do WILL need that info! :)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:27PM
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WEll, I know those are happy campers as they see the darn cold just outside that window all cozied up inside in that nice warn tropical air..Sort of what I thrive in

That is why I spend hours sitting in my very humid greenhouse all winter with the sun out readinga book...One glance of water with the hose on everything, and then the sun for what it's worth that low in the sky in winter can mean all the difference in my


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 14:32

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:30PM
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If I had a GH I'd never come out again. lol

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Never go with at&t..they're connections suk.

Pet..yep, I was talking about winter.
My plants have two and moist or warm and dry.

Jkats didn't say if his Maranta was summered in or outdoors...did he/she?

Or if indoors, whether or not a/c or c/a was used, and if so, room temps.

Yes, I agree..if room is warm and bright, there's no need to cut back water.

Which thread do you mean? With Silver???

Hey ya doing?

What did you mean when you said, 'I have yet to grow one of these plants in my mixes..yet?'

Asleep..Oh yes, aquariums work great, but trying to fit a zillion plants in fish tanks..That's a lot of glass. :)

Actually, I have one 10-gallon tank for odds and ends, and two terrariums bought at Walmart.
I also run a humidifer, indoor fountain/s, spray and shower.
Well, try to do the latter.

Hey least you have room to fit a chair. lol. Toni

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:45PM
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"Oh yes, aquariums work great, but trying to fit a zillion plants in fish tanks..That's a lot of glass. :)"

I do,and it is but like you infer,it's never mentioned above,I need one I can live in...ONLY then would I even consider trying to keep a cal again. :)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 3:01PM
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asleep, I am trying to get 'terrarium like' set-up with a large dry-cleaners bag 2' by 4' with or without heating mat. with good dappled /filtered/bright light it's been working very good for me. but seems, lots of people are skeptical.
do you give extra heat to your aquariums? how much are they vented on top? or closed? what temps inside?
have you tried to keep smaller divisions of marantha/cals/stromanthe inside in winter?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 3:36PM
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toni, I quote:
".. 8 feet away from an east facing window. I've also tried over the last few months to have it right next to that window as well as in the middle of a long room with east and west facing windows. I live in Baltimore which constantly feels like a bathtub because of the high humidity".
to me jkatz clearly refers/asks about indoors/summer watering.
jkatz, give us a confirm: is your plant inside? high temp, humid? you described watering during summer once ev 2 weeks? no a/c?
"here" is where cj-speciosa described keeping a cal indoors over 2 year period - with lots of watering (thru the winter too).
it's in...HEAVENLY condition.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Yes Petrushka,I have before with success. My only problem with that group of plants(those relevant to this thread)has been after I remove them they want back in and won't accept compromise.

Your dry cleaner bag set up appeals to me quite a bit and I'm seriously considering doing the same as an addition to the set up as is which I have to admit is hit and miss and tweaked as I go. I "burp" the containers often enough because I'm always noticing something in one or another that I want to adjust,..but air circulation is usually at a standstill and the warnings that Mike gives upthread are very real at this point but I risk it a bit...after all,many of the plants that are in there at any given time are only visiting to get their oomph back,..a humidity "fix" if you will. Now concerning temp...often that's just a matter of how close the lamp/lamps are adjusted(again hit and miss). Used heat mats before and they are just swell,but for now the lamps are doing the job. Back to the dry cleaner tent again,..Consider using an aquarium heater in a bucket or tank...buried in pea gravel and topped with enough water to submerge it. This will generate more heat than you would expect,and all the humidity you could ever want. :)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Somehow I got lucky, and my Miranta happily hangs in a somewhat dim area about 4 feet from a small (2 foot square) east window, under a staircase. It's quite happy, though, and has doubled in size the 6 months its been here. I usually water weekly. It grows faster than I want (need to repot already) so only fertilize every 2 months or so, with a weak solution of foliage pro (1/2 tsp / gallon).

It prays quite a bit, am always surprised how much the leaves move in 12 hours.


EDIT: forgot to sign

This post was edited by rooftopbklyn on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 16:48

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 4:47PM
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Hi all, my maranta has been indoors since I got it from a hardware store in June. It's never been outside. We don't use air conditioning so it has gotten pretty hot in the house. I've been misting it regularly and I water when the soil on top is nearly dry. It came in a very small pot with lots of roots so I up-potted it shortly after I got it with all-purpose soil. I have not fertilized it. It sits on a bed of small river stones in a big bowl. It started to get brown tips when it was downstairs halfway between east and west facing windows in a very long room. A month ago i moved it upstairs where It does not get direct sunlight but rather gets dappled light from the east-facing window about 8 feet away.
I don't have the means to get fancy with humidity or air temperature but I can make some simple changes in its location and sun exposure and watering.
It worries me that its leaves don't curl up at night and that they are still turning brown at the tips.

Has anyone had any experience with keeping marantas in the bathroom? It gets pretty humid and warm in mine but only has a tiny south facing window into an alley.

Thank you all for the shared experiences! They're very helpful.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 4:54PM
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it seems the problem is the soil. for most plants with browning edges - the plant cannot absorb enough water thru the roots. the abovementioned cj-speciosa fab plant (see link) was planted in miracle grow peat-based soilless mix.
jkatz, if your soil does not dry out 1" from top in one week - you need either a. to change the soil to a faster draining mix, b. remix what you got with may be 30-50% perlite
c. or at least put it back into a smaller pot - so it'll dry out the top 1" in a week - and then you water it until it drips from the bottom.
cj-speciosa lets it stand in water ... which is surely against all advice, but if it works - why not? go see the plant...
but you can try experimenting to see how fast it'll absorb some small amt of standing water. if it's fast, it should be ok. the bathroom should be fine - tiny so window into proly will be great, since it won't get that much sun. try it but watch it closely. if it starts folding leaves daytime - it's too much light.
oh, and these prefer wide shallow pots - like azalea/mums or hanging! pots.
asleep - aquarium heater is a great idea. optimally I need smth with zero-maint when I am away for 2-3 weeks :).. but i'll keep it in mind for the future.
the added bonus of dry-cleaners bag tents: you can set it up anywhere the plant is and it's free! and you can put them on rather large plants, I use them for 2'-3' high plants which would be impossible to stuff into aqua/terrarium.
rooftopbklyn - am dying to know what size is the pot and what soil it's in. you have a great plant! when you water you plant how moist /dry is the top soil? and how large is your plant? it looks like a 3' wide giant!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 6:40PM
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