How to Care for Syngonium Rayii?
Indigenous to Panama and Costa Rica, the Syngonium Rayii is one of the most coveted Syngonium varieties.
The plant’s velvety leaves and interesting coloration make it an intriguing variety, one that’s unfortunately also rare.
The white or silvery line running down the center of the leaf is the signature mark of the Syngonium Rayii, making it stand out among other foliage plants.
If you’re one of the lucky few to get a hold of this plant, I trust my plant care tips below will come handy in ensuring the optimal environment for the Syngonium Rayii.
Size & Growth
A hemiepiphyte, the Syngonium Rayii spends half its life being rooted in soil, while the other half growing as an epiphyte on other plants.
Because it can be kept as a compact plant, it can be grown with excellent results in terrariums and vivariums. In fact, the warmth and humidity offered by these ensure a thriving Syngonium plant.
On average, the leaves of the plant are 3-5 inches, but can become as long as 14 inches. The Rayii variety also doesn’t usually grow taller than 16 inches.
However, as it matures it can grow long vines or stolons, which, if left untrimmed, can reach 6 feet in length.
When growing conditions are optimal, the plant can exhibit fast growth. If grown in a terrarium, you’ll need to keep the plant trimmed.
If you’re growing the Syngonium Rayii indoors, you’ll be happy to find out that it doesn’t need direct light exposure. In fact, the velvety leaves are sensitive to the strong rays of the sun, so avoid placing the plant under direct sunlight.
Even so, the Rayii variety will grow best in bright, indirect light. Variations such as filtered light or dappled light are also excellent.
That said, the plant will tolerate some level of low light, it’s just that its growth and foliage production and size will be impacted.
I recommend that you place this plant in a room with a western or eastern exposure. If you ensure ideal light conditions, you’ll help the plant grow beautiful foliage with the iconic white or silvery central vein running down the length of the leaf.
If the plant gets exposed to direct sunlight, especially during the part of the day when the sun is the strongest, the sun will leach the color out of the leaves and cause scorching.
In my experience, one of the difficulties in successfully growing a Syngonium Rayii is coming up with a good watering schedule.
Because the plant enjoys a moist medium, it’s not difficult to end up overwatering the plant. Something that, unfortunately, the plant doesn’t enjoy at all.
But then again, you don’t want it to dry out completely either and end up with a wilted plant. So how can you best manage the plant’s watering needs? By looking at the substrate.
First, you want to give the plant enough water until you see it coming out of the drain holes. Then, you need to wait for the top inch of the soil to dry, before you water again.
With this soak and dry watering method, you’ll keep the soil slightly moist and prevent the plant from completely drying out.
Don’t water the plant until you check the soil for its moisture level. Once satisfied with the answer, you can go ahead and water it.
Use chlorine-free water. Also make sure the water is at room temperature. Very cold water can shock the plant.
Besides watering, the type of potting mix you use for planting is also crucial. Below, I’ll explain why the soil type is just as important as watering the Syngonium Rayii correctly.
You should plant your Syngonium Rayii in a porous, rich, and well-draining potting mix. Since the plant doesn’t like its roots sitting in water, you need to make sure any excess water will drain fast.
For this type of plant, I usually use the following recipe to create a suitable potting mix:
- Two parts high-quality, regular potting mix
- One part perlite
- Other possible amendments: coconut coir, bark, coarse sand
The idea is to create pockets of air in the potting mix that will prevent compaction and suffocation of the roots.
I strongly advise against using just regular potting mix — the soil gets too saturated with water, which takes too long to dry, causing an uptick in fungi and other pathogens that will trigger root rot issues.
So take some time to create a more porous potting mix or get a commercially available mix formulated for tropical plants. It makes all the difference in the long-term health and development of your plant.
Temperature & Humidity
The temperature range that the Syngonium Rayii is most comfortable with is between 59 F and 85 °F. Don’t expose the plant to temperatures below 47 °F or leave it outside in temperatures below 50 °F for extended periods.
The plant prefers humidity around 70% but adapts to humidity levels of around 50% as well. Anything lower than that is questionable and the leaves will tend to get droopy because of the dry air.
If you can manage to maintain humidity levels around 60% around the plant, your Syngonium Rayii will be thankful for it.
I use a humidifier to help plants that thrive in a more humid environment than my home. I also try to move plants to the more naturally humid areas in my house, like the kitchen or bathroom.
Luckily, the Syngonium adapts to humidity levels around 50% and above that aren’t as difficult to maintain indoors.
If you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, try creating an evaporation tray (fill a tray with pebbles and water).
I also sometimes leave a window open or slightly cracked when it’s raining outside. I found it to increase humidity levels indoors as well.
Despite being categorized as a fast grower, the Syngonium Rayii is not a heavy feeder.
You’ll only need to fertilize once a month during spring and summer and stop fertilizing during winter. You can use a foliage plant fertilizer, but make sure to dilute it to half-strength.
Potting & Repotting
Repotting is usually due every 2 years and it’s best to schedule it to spring or summer to take advantage of the plant’s better resilience during these times.
Check that the pot you’re transferring your Syngonium Rayii is fitted with drainage holes and it’s not oversized compared to the previous pot.
How to Propagate Syngonium Rayii?
Propagation of Syngonium Rayii should be scheduled for spring or summer, during periods of active growth.
You can use stem cuttings or stolons, both easily harvested and rooted. The only difference really is in how you harvest them.
Stem cuttings should be around 4 inches long with leaves and at least one leaf node. Stolons (thick, woody stems with aerial roots attached) should be cut off half an inch from the base of the plant.
You can root stem cuttings and stolons in water. Use chlorine-free, room temperature water. Keep them out of direct sunlight, in a warm location.
Replace the water at least once a week to keep it clean and wait for the roots to become at least 3 inches long before transplanting the rooted cuttings in a moist potting mix.
Why are New Leaves of Syngonium Rayii not Unfurling?
Sometimes, the plant will produce lots of new growth and leaves, but some leaves will simply not unfurl.
When this happens, the causes are either a lack of nutrients, especially if you haven’t been fertilizing your Syngonium at all or you haven’t replaced its potting mix for a couple of years.
Likewise, a lack of moisture stemming from underwatering and a lack of humidity can also prevent new growths from unfurling.
Why are the Leaves of Syngonium Rayii Turning Yellow?
If the leaves are soft and yellowing, one explanation can be that you’ve been overwatering your plant and now its roots are rotting. Check the roots to confirm this.
Alternatively, leaves can go pale because of excess sun exposure, but also because of a lack of light. Reassess the positioning of your Syngonium.
Does the Syngonium Rayii Bloom?
Yes, although rarely indoors. The blooms of the Syngonium Rayii are green or white, and they turn into brown or red berries.
But the dainty blooms aren’t particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the foliage of the plant, which more than makes up for the lackluster blooms.
Rare and exciting, the Syngonium Rayii isn’t more difficult to grow compared to other Syngonium varieties. It’s a coveted variety because of its interesting foliage that stands out both in texture and color pattern.
Fond of humidity, it can be a challenge to grow in dry environments, so where high humidity cannot be provided, growing the plant in a terrarium or vivarium can be an alternative.
Overwatering is one of the biggest foes of this plant, so make sure to plant in well-draining potting mix. The other extreme — letting the soil completely go dry — is also unacceptable.
Hopefully, my advice on how to care for the Syngonium Rayii will help you prevent some of the common issues with this plant.