In my experience, Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) prefer a soil mix that holds moisture and allows excess water to drain quickly away. I like to make my own soil mix at home, combining two parts: peat moss or coco coir, one part perlite, and one part finished compost. Just ensure the soil pH is on the acidic side – ideally between 5.5 and 7.0.
The Ultimate Prayer Plant Potting Mix Recipe
I find making my own prayer plant soil mix at home to be a fun and cost effective method. If you’d like to make your own soil prayer plant potting mix, here are the ingredients and ratios I use:
- 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
If you’d rather buy 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 (via Amazon) will work well for prayer plants:
Why Well-Draining Soil is Important
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?
Prayer plants will grow best in soil with a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Look for a soil pH level between 5.5 and 7.0. Fortunately, most soil mixes naturally fall within this range.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix
An improper environment, poor watering schedule, or wrong soil mix can cause many common prayer plant problems. With that said, if you notice any of the following issues, it’s a good idea to check out your soil mix.
Yellowing prayer plant 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 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 will have difficulty holding 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 improves soil function, no matter the soil’s texture.
Considering all this information, be aware that houseplants are rarely grown in native soil. Instead, they’re grown in potting mixes designed to provide these plants’ needs.
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.
Prayer Plant Soil 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.
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.
For more, see our in-depth guide to prayer plant care at home.