Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) Indoor Care, Propagation and Problems with Solutions


Calathea crocata commonly called Eternal Flame Plant or Saffron-coloured Calathea is a unique Calathea which has quite colorful foliage and a 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.

Eternal Flame Plant 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.

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

Calathea Eternal Flame 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.

Saffron-coloured Calathea 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.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Botanical name: Calathea crocata
Synonym: Goeppertia crocata
Family: Marantaceae
Common name: Eternal Flame Plant, Saffron-coloured Calathea

Origin

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

Toxicity

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.

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

If you would like to add these gorgeous plants to your collection, they are available online on Etsy.

Calathea crocata Indoor Care

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame Plant) prefers bright, indirect light with at least 4 to 6 hours of morning or evening sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Calathea Eternal Flame requires pruning to keep it neat and also reduce pest and disease infestations. Repotting is needed when the plant becomes extremely pot-bound as it blooms best when slightly root-bound. Keep reading for more on the best growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Watering

Water Eternal Flame Plant liberally during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out to keep the soil moderately moist.

Decrease 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 crocoata like other Calathea is sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water. It will respond to dissolved chemicals with brown leaf tips and edges.

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

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

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).

However, keep the Saffron-coloured Calathea away from too hot direct sunlight as it can cause scorching of the leaves.

If the lighting in your home is not adequate, use grow bulbs to supplement it. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Note that too bright light will cause the leaf colour to fade while too little light may reduce growth and flowering.

For uniform growth of the plant, regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides.

Temperature and Humidity

Eternal Flame Plant prefers average warmth within the range of 18-260C. Room temperatures that are comfortable for you are ideal for this plant.

Keep Calathea crocata from cold drafts and sudden changes in temperature as they can cause the leaves to begin drooping.

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

To elevate 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 and other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow Saffron-coloured Calathea in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium.

Regularly, clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat as well as reduce pest and disease infestations.

Potting Mix

The best potting mix 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 Amazon. Buy quality potting medium from Amazon.

Feeding

Feed Eternal Flame Plant with a balanced, liquid 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 and death of the plant.

To promote flowering (blooming), feed Calathea crocata with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer weekly 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 Calathea Eternal Flame every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season or when it becomes extremely pot-bound as it blooms best when slightly 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. Check out these Flower Pots with Multi Mesh Drainage Holes on Amazon.

Before repotting, water the Saffron-coloured Calathea thoroughly at least one day before to 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 in about 3-4 weeks once it takes root.

Pruning

Pruning Calathea crocata is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations.

Cut the leaves with a clean, 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

Eternal Flame Plant (Calathea crocata) can be propagated by plant division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting. Read on.

How to propagate Eternal Flame Plant 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.

Slip the plant out of 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 well-drained 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 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 Calathea crocata are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame Plant

Calathea crocata Growing Problems

Calathea crocata (Eternal Flame) growing problems include lack of blooms, leaf drop, yellow leaves, plant death, brown leaf tips, pests and diseases among others. Keep 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.

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

Position the Eternal Flame Plant in a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light with some morning or evening sunshine or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate to ensure that the plant receives the amount of light it requires.

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

To promote flowering (blooming), feed the Saffron-coloured Calathea with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer weekly during 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 excessively.

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) as the plant is very sensitive to low air humidity.

To increase humidity, 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.

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

Water the Saffron-coloured Calathea liberally and maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season.

Lessen 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 and if the roots are growing through the drainage hole, the plant needs to be repotted.

Repot the plant into a pot one size larger than the current one or divide it into several sections to propagate new plants.

Plant dying

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

Take the Saffron-coloured Calathea out of 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 treat root-rot in houseplants.

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 the plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but keep the soil slightly moist at this time.

The second possible reason why Calathea crocata is dying is pest infestations. Calathea Eternal Flame 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 as most of the air spaces in the soil are filled with water.

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.

As such, 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.

Cut down on watering in the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Always make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil drains easily to prevent it from getting soggy.

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).

Saffron-coloured Calathea requires a humid environment to thrive. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in the bathroom and other moist areas in the home where humidity is high.

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, Saffron-coloured Calathea 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 which may have originated from the water or fertilizers used.

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.

Diseases

Apart from root-rot disease, Calathea crocata is also prone to leaf spot disease which is enhanced by the humid conditions that it prefers.

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 leaf spot disease.

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