Maranta's is wet soil

christine1950December 31, 2013

I thought I'd start a new discussion on the marantas. I was given my maranta in the container it is still in, also in that containter was a diffenbachia & a palm and one other plant, all the other plants were taken out of the container and re-potted but I left the maranta in the container which it has been in for at least 4-5 years, there is a wick that feeds the water to the soil and the soil is always wet, I would even say damp. After reading the previous post, HOW is it that mine has survived in the same soil condition for all these years?? I have added some food over the summers if I remember. I have thought of re-potting it but I'm afraid I'd loose it. What do you all think??
Confused Christine LOL

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if the rootball is well developed (as it would be after sev years) - the water is absorbed quickly, especially when the plant is large.
i grow a lot of moisture loving plants on self-watering wicks. even though it's best when medium is at least 40-50% perlite for wicking.
also it's better to underpot then to overpot for wicking. for that reason i also avoid repotting often. only when i notice that plant is not growing as well as before.
which other thread you're talking about? 'maranta is dead' post? that one was repotted into a much larger pot while the plant declined and was kept at low temps.
when it's warm and it has good light it'll continue to grow... and absorb water well. even in winter.
yours is looking somewhat leggy though - i'd increase light.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 11:19AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Christine - when you water using a wick, the dissolved solids (minerals) and fertilizer salts make their way INTO the soil in the water that's wicked. If your plant doesn't use all these minerals and nutrients, and it doesn't, they accumulate in the soil. Soon, not only is the ratio of nutrients badly skewed, making it difficult for the plant to absorb certain nutrients, the TOTAL level of dissolved solids in the soil increases, which makes it increasingly more difficult for the plant to take up water and the nutrients which must be dissolved in water before the plant can access them. All the preceding is why watering from the top and flushing the soil each time you water is superior to using any type of wicking.

Additionally, the thought that a well-developed root system will use water quickly can be misleading if not qualified. Water absorption is an energy driven process that needs to take place in the presence of oxygen. The fastest way to reduce the size of a well-developed root system, or cripple its ability to absorb water/nutrients is by over-watering. Over-watering kills the all-important fine roots and inhibits o/a root function, also in a direct relationship to the severity and duration of the saturation the plant is forced to endure.

Plants left in the same container or same soil for years can usually be counted on to be suffering. Tight roots and a collapsed soil, singularly or in combination, contribute to a decline in both growth rate and vitality. If you wish your plant to grow as close to its genetic potential as possible, you should either pot up BEFORE the root/soil mass reaches a point where it can be lifted from the pot intact, or do full repots regularly. (Ask if you'd like to know the difference between potting up and repotting and how it impacts the plant physiologically) When the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact is the approximate point at which root congestion becomes limiting, and the limiting effect increases in direct relation with the severity of the congestion.

'Over-potting' is only a significant issue when you're using a soil that is more water retentive than is good for the plant. If you use a soil that holds little or no perched water, you can pot the smallest of plants in a huge volume of soil w/o problems.

Now, isn't a good time to be repotting houseplants because they are coming into the part of their growth cycle when their energy reserves are at their lowest, and their ability to replenish reserves is limited by short days and reduced light intensity (the sun's light has to travel farther and through more of our atmosphere before it reaches you). I would only repot now if you felt the plant was likely to perish if you didn't. There are, however, things you can do to help your plant make it through until summer, when it will tolerate repotting with little risk to the plant. Let me know if you'd like to visit about what you can do to help your plant now.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Al, Thank you so much for all the info you have given, I would love to know what I should do now so that I dont lose her over the winter. I do have a baby I started in soil in early summer and shes doing alright but I'd be sorry to lose the original one it started from, I've given away alot of clipings over the years so she has been cut back many times. I do know the difference of re-potting & potting up, you have taught me well over the years and again I Thank You, when you have time let me know what I should do. Happy New Year

Petruska, Thank You for your input also :>)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 3:05PM
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perhaps flushing the soil each time you water is superior to wicking...AND makes you a slave to your plants :)
but going away on vac/trips for weeks, even months at a time and coming back to healthy self-watered plants FAR outways it in my book.
been doing it for 5 years without ill effect. not planning to change my ways any time soon, but bent on putting even MORE plants on wicks..... and highly recommend it to people with same objectives!
as far as 'growing the plant to it's full potential goes' - i'd be now consumed by a jungle, since i've had a lot of my plants for 20 years or more and they grow and grow and grow more!!! and i divide and root....and prune...AND ..AND... wow! must be doing smth right....
so you see that my objective is NOT to make them grow big and fast to the full potential. just healthy and in bounds.
as they say there are many ways to the mountain top. some harder then others ;).

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 5:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I was careful to make it clear I was addressing the OP, Christine, but your thoughts are noted.

Christine - I would flush the soil repeatedly to be sure any accumulating salts are eliminated. Then, next time the plant needs water, I would fertilize with something like Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 or Miracle-Gro 12-4-8. These are 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers (ask if that part isn't as clear in your mind as you'd like it to be) and supply nutrients in a ratio at which the average of all plants actually USE the nutrients. There is a considerable advantage in supplying nutrients with consideration given to what the plant actually uses.

If your soil is more water retentive than you might wish it to be, you can use a wick to help drain excess water. (Ask if interested)

More tips copy/pasted from something I posted very recently here at Houseplants:

Tip: Try this > Water your plant until it's saturated. Set it in the sink until it stops draining. Tilt the pot at a 45* angle and watch how much more water exits the drain. This trick can be of considerable help in keeping your plants healthy if you're using a soil that holds too much water.

Tip: To be employed for the same reason > Water your plant until it's saturated. Set it in the sink until it stops draining. Take pot in hand and hold it over the sink. Lower the pot slowly, then reverse directions sharply and lift the pot. The water in the pot, once moving downward, will want to keep moving downward (Newton's first law of motion - An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction ....), so as you reverse the pots direction to up instead of down, much of the excess water will exit the pot. Repeat until no more water exits the drain. You can remove even MORE excess water this way than by tilting the pot.

If you have other questions, please don't hesitate. I'll do my best to answer ...... and
Happy New Year to YOU, too!


    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 6:27PM
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I live in an area with hard water...and I can see visible build up of solids on the soil within a couple of months. I try to flush the pots at least once a month.
Your water conditions affect the need to flush greatly.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Thank you Al, I will do as you have advised and then come early summer I'll re-pot her properly. Have a wonderful day .

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:18AM
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