How to Grow and Care for Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) Indoors

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Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Botanical name: Calathea crocata
Synonym: Goeppertia crocata
Family: Marantaceae
Common name: Eternal Flame Plant

Description

Calathea crocata commonly called Eternal Flame Plant is one unique member of the Calathea group which has quite plain foliage but it is popular for its display of erect orange-red flowers.

The common name, 'Eternal Flame', is in reference to the spectacular, long-lasting blooms that it produces in summer. The blooms can last for 2 to 3 months.

Calathea crocata is a small-sized plant which grows to a height of about 1.5 ft and about 1 ft wide. It is perfect for small spaces like a narrow window sill, table top or a top a shelf.

It bears magnificent, slightly wrinkled metallic dark-green leaves with purple to brown tones on the undersides.

Eternal Flame Plant prefers bright, indirect light with some direct sunshine. Hot direct sunlight can damage the fragile leaves resulting in sunburn and dullness in the color of leaves.

It also requires a warm, humid environment to mimic its natural habitat. It thrives in moderately moist soil and overwatering or underwatering can lead to brown dry leaves.

Due to its need for high humidity, Eternal Flame Plant thrives in a terrarium or a bottle garden where a high humidity can be maintained.

Origin

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame) is native to Bahia and EspĂ­rito Santo states of eastern Brazil where it grows as an understory plant.

Related Plants

Calathea crocata is closely related to the Marantas, Ctenanthe and Stromanthe.

These groups of plants are collectively called Prayer Plants in reference to their curious characteristic of closing their leaves at night.

Where to buy Eternal Flame Plant

If you would like to add these spectacular plants to your houseplant collection, beautiful and healthy plants in various sizes are available online on Etsy. Purchase Calathea Plants from Etsy.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) Care Indoors

Calathea crocata grows best in bright, indirect light with at least 4 to 6 hours of morning or evening sunshine and moderately moist soil. It requires a warm, humid environment inorder to thrive.

The best soil for growing Eternal Flame Plant should be free-draining as it cannot tolerate soggy soil. Read on for more on the best growing conditions.

Light Requirements

Eternal Flame Plant grows best in bright, indirect light with at least 4 to 6 hours of morning or evening sunshine to promote blooming (flowering).

If the lighting in your home is not adequate, use these grow bulbs to supplement it. Simply screw them into your regular lighting fixtures.

Too bright light will cause the leaf colour to fade while too little light may reduce flowering. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight as it can lead to sunburn on the leaves.

For uniform growth of the plant, regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

Water Eternal Flame Plant liberally and keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Use tepid water that is free of chlorine and flourides as Calathea crocata like other Calathea is sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water. The plant will respond to dissolved chemicals with brown leaf tips and edges. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.

To prevent fungal infestations like leaf spot diseases, avoid wetting the foliage of your Calathea crocata during watering or water from the bottom instead.


Temperature

Eternal Flame Plant prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Room temperature that is comfortable for you is ideal for this plant.

Protect Calathea crocata from cold draughts and sudden changes in temperature as they can cause the leaves to begin drooping. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Calathea crocata requires high humidity inorder to thrive. Low humidity causes the plant to develop brown leaf tips and edges.

To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

Eternal Flame Plant can also be grown in the bathroom or other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow Eternal Flame Plant in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a closed terrarium for houseplants.

How to Clean Calathea crocata

Regularly, clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Eternal Flame Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once monthly through out the growing season. The plant is not a heavy feeder, therefore, feeding once monthly should be adequate.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

To promote flowering (blooming), feed Eternal Flame Plant with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer in the bud formation stage.

Regularly, flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil. Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times.

Repotting

Repot Eternal Flame Plant every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season or when it becomes root-bound. Use a pot one size larger than the current one.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.

Before repotting, water the plant thoroughly at least 1 day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment. A well hydrated plant suffers less repotting shock and takes a shorter time to take root.

If the plant is large and has outgrown its current pot, divide it into several sections and use the splits to propagate new plants.

Repotting may cause the leaves to droop but the plant will eventually recover once it takes root; in about 3-4 weeks.

Soil for Calathea crocata

The best soil for Eternal Flame Plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Quality potting mixes are available on Etsy. Purchase Calathea potting medium from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Calathea crocata is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and attractive. Cut the leaves with a sharp knife or scissors at the base, where the leaf meets the stalk.

Remove the spent blooms as soon as they die to keep the plant neat and tidy as well reduce breeding ground for pests and diseases.

Propagation

Calathea crocata can be propagated by plant division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting. Read on.

How to propagate Calathea crocata by plant division

Water the Eternal Flame Plant thoroughly at least 1 day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment. A well hydrated plant suffers less shock and takes a shorter time to take root.

Take out the plant from its pot and divide it into several sections. Ensure each sections has adequate roots and at least 2-3 stems.

Select a 6 or 8 in. pot and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Fill the pot with Calathea potting medium and make a hole in the center of the pot. Ensure that the hole is slightly wider than the root base of the Calathea crocata section.

Place the section in the previously made hole and lightly firm the soil around the base while taking care not to bury it too deep; maintain the section at the same soil level it was in the previous pot.

Liberally water the soil until water comes out through the drainage holes. Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment of the plants.

Place the pots in a warm, well-lit place until new growth has emerged on the sections.

Gradually remove the polythene over a period of two weeks to acclimatize the new plants.

Maintain the soil moist until the new Eternal Flame Plants are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Photo Credit: RHS Plants

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame) Problems Indoors

Calathea crocata problems indoors are caused by cultural faults in watering, humidity, light and temperature among others. Continue reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

No blooms (flowers)

There are four possible reasons why Calathea crocata is not blooming (flowering). One possible reason is too little light.

The plant requires bright, indirect light with at least 4 to 6 hours of morning or evening sunshine to promote blooming (flowering).

Move the Eternal Flame Plant to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light with some morning or evening sunshine. If you do not have enough lighting in your home, instal a grow light to ensure the plant receives adequate light.

The second possible reason why Calathea crocata is not blooming is underfeeding. Though not a heavy feeder, the plant requires enough nutrients needed for flowering production.

To promote flowering (blooming), feed Calathea crocata with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer in the bud formation stage.

The third possible reason why Eternal Flame Plant is not blooming is underwatering which results it too little moisture in the rootzone.

This implies that there is not enough water which is need for the uptake of nutrients necessary for growth and flower formation.

Water Calathea crocata liberally during the growing season and maintain the soil moderately moist at all times. Do not allow the soil to dry out excessivelly.

The fourth possible reason why Eternal Flame Plant is not blooming is dry air (low humidity). The plant requires a humid environment inorder to thrive.

Too dry air causes the leaves to curl up which in turn affects the process of photosynthesis (food making process). Without adequate food, growth and flower formation are reduced.

Drooping leaves

Drooping leaves in Calathea crocata are due to three possible reasons. One possible cause of drooping leaves is too dry air (low humidity). Calathea crocata is very sensitive to low air humidity.

To raise humidity for Calathea crocata, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow Eternal Flame Plant in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a terrarium for houseplants.

The second possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea crocata is incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.

Water Eternal Flame Plant liberally and maintain the soil moist at all times during the growing season. Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Also, ensure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

The third possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea crocata is that the plant is root-bound. This means that the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil to hold water when you water your plant.

Therefore, there is no water for the plant to take up to the leaves. The leaves loss their stiffness and they droop.

Check the bottom of the pot for roots growing through the drainage hole. Repot the plant into a pot one size larger than the current one or divide it into several sections to propagate new plants.

Dying (plant death)

Calathea crocata may die due to two possible reasons. One possible reason why Calathea crocata is dying is root-rot which is brought about by soggy soil.

Take out the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Brown-black mushy roots indicate root-rot, trim them off and treat the healthy roots with a fungicidal solution.

Disinfect the pot or use a fresh pot to repot the plant in fresh free-draining soil. Do not water the plant and keep it dry for some time before resuming watering. Read more on how to deal with root-rot here.

To prevent root-rot in the future, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy. Also, do not overwater your plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

The second possible reason why your Calathea crocata is dying is pest infestations. Eternal Flame Plant like other Calatheas is prone to mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap.

Leaves appear washed out

Direct sunlight on Calathea crocata is the cause of washed out leaves. The plant grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight.

Move the Eternal Flame Plant to a more shaded spot or instal a light curtain to protect it from direct sunlight to prevent its eventual death.

Curled, yellowing leaves

Curled and yellowing leaves in Calathea crocata are caused by incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.

Overwatering (soggy soil) causes the roots to die due to lack of oxygen. When the roots die they cannot take up water and therefore the leaves begin to curl, yellow and eventually die.

Underwatering implies that there is too little moisture in the soil and therefore, the plant has no water to take up to the leaves. Thus, the leaves begin to curl, yellow and eventually die if the situation is not corrected.

Eternal Flame Plant requires that the soil be kept moderately moist during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Also, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Brown, dry leaf tips and edges

There are four possible causes of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea crocata. One possible cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges is dry air (too little humidity).

Eternal Flame Plant requires a humid environment to thrive. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

Calathea crocata can also be grown in the bathroom or other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Eternal Flame Plant can also be grown in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a closed terrarium for houseplants.

The second cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea crocata which is accompanied by stunted growth is spider mites infestation due to the air being too dry (low humidity).

Remove the dead growth and raise humidity for the plant to discourage the pest infestations.

The third cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Eternal Flame Plant is watering with hard water. Water the plant with chlorine-free water only like rain water.

Like other Calatheas, Calathea crocata is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water and it responds with brown leaf tips and edges.

The fourth cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea crocata is accumulation of salts or chemicals in the soil. These chemicals may have originated from the water or from the fertilizers.

Regularly, flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil. Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times.

Pests

The common pests in Calathea crocata are mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap.

Diseases

Calathea crocata is prone to leaf spot disease due to the humid conditions that they prefer.

The disease is indicated by brown patches surrounded by a yellow halo. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the disease.

Is Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) toxic?

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) like other Calathea Plants is non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. The plant is safe to grow indoors.

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