With beautiful leaves that move in response to light, it’s no surprise prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) are some of the most popular houseplants. Whether you opt for green leaves painted with red or the bright lemon-lime variety, these plants will brighten your day and offer a host of added benefits. However, proper prayer plant care is essential to keeping these beauties happy. An important part of care is choosing an appropriate soil mix. To help you out, we’re going to cover some soil basics as well as the best soil mix for prayer plants.
- The Best Soil for Prayer Plants – The Essentials
- Why Soil Choice Matters
- What Materials are Used in Potting Mix?
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Prayer Plants
- Why Well-Draining Soil is Important for Prayer Plants
- What Soil pH Levels are Best for Prayer Plants?
- The Ultimate Prayer Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- The Best Pre-Mixed Soils for Prayer Plants
- Soil Mix for Prayer Plants FAQs
- Wrapping Up
The Best Soil for Prayer Plants – The Essentials
Prayer plants prefer a soil mix that holds moisture and allows excess water to drain. They will grow best in a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. To make your own mix, combine two parts peat moss or coco coir, one part perlite, and one part finished compost.
Why Soil Choice Matters
The vast majority of plants require soil to survive. However, not all soil is the same. Choosing the proper soil mix is an essential part of keeping your plant happy.
The proper soil will:
- Provide plants with a place to anchor
- Help plants regulate temperature
- Hold nutrients until they are available for plant uptake
- Provide a home for beneficial microorganisms
- Hold water until plants can take it up
- Allow excess water to drain
- Provide air pockets for gas exchange
Natural soils can vary greatly, depending on the location and environment. Just think about how a sandy beach soil differs from the soil found in a forest.
To help describe soils, scientists classify soil particles based on their size. Clay is the smallest particle, silt is a bit bigger, and sand is the largest particle. By examining the amount of sand, silt, and clay in a soil, scientists can determine the soil texture.
Generally, soil with a large proportion of sand will be well-draining but hard to hold water and nutrients. On the other hand, clay soils tend to hold lots of water and nutrients but have difficulty draining excess water. Silt soils fall in between.
Natural soils also often contain organic matter. This material tends to improve soil function, no matter the soil’s texture.
With all this information in mind, be aware that houseplants are rarely grown in native soil. Instead, they’re grown in potting mixes designed to provide just what these plants need.
What Materials are Used in Potting Mix?
There is a wide variety of potting mixes available, but each is made up of similar components. The following materials are commonly used in potting mix.
- Coco Coir is a type of organic matter made from coconut husks. It improves drainage and aeration while also holding water and nutrients.
- Compost is decomposed organic matter. Beware that not all compost is the same; thoroughly aged compost works best for potting soils.
- Perlite is a type of expanded rock that looks like tiny bits of styrofoam. You can use it to improve aeration and drainage.
- Pine Bark Fines are small pieces of pine bark that improve aeration and drainage.
- Pumice is a type of volcanic rock with many tiny pores. It improves aeration and drainage.
- Rocks can be used to improve drainage.
- Sand improves aeration and drainage due to its relatively large particle size.
- Soil Activators boost your soil with beneficial microbes. These help make nutrients available to plants and keep diseases at bay.
- Sphagnum peat moss is a type of organic material that was formed under wet, anaerobic conditions. It holds water and nutrients without becoming waterlogged.
- Vermiculite is a type of expanded mineral that holds water and improves aeration.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Prayer Plants
Many common prayer plant problems can be caused by an improper environment, poor watering schedule, or wrong soil mix. With that said, if you notice any of the following issues, it’s a good idea to check out your soil mix.
Yellowing leaves often signal that your plant’s soil is too wet. This could be caused by overwatering or soil that doesn’t drain well.
Wilting leaves are most often caused by dry soil. If you’re watering your prayer plant properly, there’s a good chance your soil mix isn’t holding enough water.
A stunted plant may signal that your plant isn’t taking up enough nutrients. Even if you’re applying fertilizer, it may be leaching out before your plant has a chance to take it up. Ensure that your soil contains materials that can hold nutrients, such as peat moss, coco coir, or compost.
Why Well-Draining Soil is Important for Prayer Plants
While prayer plants like moist soil, they don’t like sitting in saturated soil. A well-draining mix allows excess water to escape, which ensures prayer plants have access to the air and nutrients they need.
If you use soil that doesn’t allow excess water to escape, your plants will suffer. Saturated soils can lead to problems with gas exchange, nutrient uptake, and water uptake.
Wait, too much water can inhibit water uptake? Yes, you read that right. Wet conditions can lead to root rot, which will prevent plants from taking up the water they need.
What Soil pH Levels are Best for Prayer Plants?
Prayer plants will grow best in soil with a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Look for a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Fortunately, most soil mixes naturally fall within this range.
The Ultimate Prayer Plant Potting Mix Recipe
If you’d like to make your soil prayer plant potting mix, combine the following.
- two parts peat moss or coco coir
- one part perlite
- one part compost
Make sure to moisten and thoroughly combine all components before adding the mix to your planter. The peat moss and compost will hold water and nutrients, while the perlite will improve aeration and drainage.
The Best Pre-Mixed Soils for Prayer Plants
If you’d rather buy a pre-mixed soil, look for a mix that provides good drainage. A peat moss or coco coir-based mix is generally a good option.
The following mixes will work well for prayer plants.
If you’re looking for a composed plant, already potted and ready-to-go on delivery, see our guide to the best prayer plant delivery services.
(Editors Note: Petal Republic participates in partnership programs with Amazon and other merchants to help connect readers with relevant products and services we may recommend).
Soil Mix for Prayer Plants FAQs:
How often should I switch soil for my Prayer Plants?
Prayer plants are slow growers, so you don’t need to repot them very often. In most cases, you’ll only need to switch the soil every three to five years.
However, if you notice disease issues, it’s a good idea to replace your soil.
Can I use cactus soil for Prayer Plants?
Cactus soil isn’t ideal for prayer plants since it doesn’t hold much water. If you want to use cactus soil, combine half peat moss with half cactus soil.
Do Prayer Plants like wet or dry soil?
Prayer plants like soil that is moist, but not wet or dry.
What are the primary considerations for soil when repotting Prayer Plants?
When you repot, you’ll want to use new soil. Look for a well-draining potting mix that will hold a bit of water.
Does the size of the plant affect the soil mix for Prayer Plants?
No, all sizes of prayer plants prefer the same type of soil mix.
Does the potting container influence the type of soil mix for Prayer Plants?
No, the potting container does not impact the type of soil you should use.
Do Prayer Plants need deep potting containers?
No. Prayer plants have shallow to moderate root systems, so they don’t need deep containers.
When choosing or making a potting soil for your prayer plant, remember that it’s essential to balance good drainage and water holding. By choosing the proper soil mix, you’ll set your prayer plant up for a long, healthy life.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.