Some links in this post may be affiliate links
Photo credit: Amazon Uk
Botanical name: Calathea spp
Calathea Plants are grown for their ornately patterned leaves which will add a splash of color to any space and make a spectacular focal point in any room.
Calatheas are also popular plants on account of their curious characteristic of raising and closing their leaves at night.
Calatheas may not be easy to grow under room conditions but once the right growing requirements are met, they can last for years.
Like the shaded floors of their native tropical canopies, Calathea prefer low to medium light. Too much direct sunlight can damage their fragile leaves resulting in sunburn and dullness in the color of leaves.
Calathea also require high humidity to mimic their natural habitat. They thrive in moist but not wet (soggy) soil. Overwatering or underwatering Calathea can lead to brown dry leaf tips.
Due to their need for high humidity, Calatheas do well in a terrarium or a bottle garden where humidity can be easily maintained.
Calathea spp are native to the tropical regions of America where they grow as understory plants.
There are about 60 species in the Calathea genus. We have here listed 16 Types of Calathea Plants with Pictures | Calathea Varieties.
Calatheas are closely related to the Marantas, Ctenanthe and Stromanthe and are collectively called Prayer Plants in reference to their curious characteristic of raising and closing their leaves at night.
Are you looking to add these gorgeous plants to your collection? Calatheas are readily available online at Etsy. Buy the spectacular Calathea Plants online from Etsy.
Photo Credit: RHS Plants
Calathea thrive in medium to bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with regular feeding during the growing season.
Calathea plants are only repotted when they become pot-bound. Pruning is necessary to keep the plants neat and also discourage pest and disease infestation. They also need regular cleaning of the leaves to keep them clean and attractive. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.
Calathea grow best in medium to bright, indirect light as the beautiful leaf colors fade in too bright light
Keep Calatheas away from direct sunlight as it can cause sunburn marks on the leaves.
Turn the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.
Calathea can also be grown under a grow light where the natural lighting is not sufficient.
Water Calathea liberally during the growing season and keep the soil moist through out. Cut down on watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time to keep the soil slightly moist.
Use tepid water that is free of chlorine and flourides as Calathea are sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water and they respond with brown leaf tips and edges.
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, avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead.
Calathea prefer average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Room temperatures that are comfortable for you are ideal for these plants.
Keep Calathea away from cold draughts to avoid sudden drops in temperature as they can cause reduced growth, rotting and death of the plant.
Calathea require high humidity inorder to thrive. Low humidity causes the plants to develop brown leaf tips and edges.
To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plants 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.
Calathea are also perfect for a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained easily inside a terrarium.
Clean the Calathea leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat and also discourage pest infestation.
Feed Calathea with a balanced, liquid fertilizer once monthly during the growing season to encourage a lush growth.
Do not feed Calathea during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.
Flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil regularly 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.
Repot Calathea every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season or when it becomes pot-bound. Use a pot one size larger than the current one.
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 death of the plant.
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.
The best soil for Calathea Plants should be rich in organic matter and well-drained to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients like this quality Calathea potting medium available online at Etsy.
Pruning Calathea is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and also minimize pest and disease infestations.
Cut the leaves with a clean sharp knife or scissors at the base, where the leaf meets the stalk. Make clean cuts to avoid unnecessary injuries and also reduce disease infestations.
Calathea are propagated by plant division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting.
Water the Calathea thoroughly at least one day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment as a well hydrated plant suffers less shock and takes a shorter time to take root.
Take the plant out of its pot and divide it into several sections and ensure that 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 a rich, well-drained potting mix and make a hole in the center of the pot. Make sure 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 to ensure that the soil is completely wetted.
Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment of the plants.
Position the pots in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight until new growth emerges from the sections.
Over a period of two weeks, gradually remove the polythene to acclimatize the new plants to ordinary growing conditions.
Maintain the soil moist until the new Calathea plants are well established after which you can begin routine care.
Calathea makoyana by Dreamtime
Calathea problems indoors include drooping leaves, loss of leaf color, brown leaf tips, curled and yellow leaves, rotting, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
Calathea may die due to two possible reasons. One possible reason is root-rot which is brought about by soggy soil.
Take the plant 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 with the fungicidal solution 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.
Avoid overwatering the plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time, therefore, the plant does not require much water.
The second possible reason why Calathea is dying is pest infestations as it 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 appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.
Drooping leaves in Calathea are due to three possible reasons. One possible cause is too dry air (low humidity). Calatheas are very sensitive to low air humidity.
To increase humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.
The second possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea is incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.
Water the plant thoroughly during the growing season to maintain the soil moist at all times. Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
The third possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea is the plant is pot-bound which means that the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil to hold water when you water the plant.
This in turn implies that there is no water for the plant to take up to the leaves therefore, the leaves loss their stiffness and they droop.
Check the bottom of the pot for roots growing through the drainage hole and repot the plant into a pot one size larger than the current one or divide it into several sections to propagate new plants.
The reasons for limp rotting stems in Calathea are that the air is too cold and the soil is too wet. At this point, the plant may be too far gone to be saved.
To prevent the occurence of limp, rotting stems in Calathea, keep the plant away from cold draughts and maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 150C.
In addition, lessen watering during the cold season and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Exposure of Calathea to direct sunlight is the cause of discolored and washed out leaves as they grow best in medium to bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight.
Position the Calathea in a more shaded spot or instal a light curtain to shield it from direct sunlight to prevent its eventual death.
Curled, spotted and yellowing leaves in Calathea are caused by incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.
Overwatering or 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 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 and eventually die if the situation is not corrected.
Calathea requires that the soil be kept moist at all times during the growing season while allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
Reduce watering in the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Ensure also that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
There are four possible causes of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea. One cause is dry air (too little humidity).
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, laundry area, kitchen and other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
A terrarium is also a good place to grow Calathea as a high humidity can easily be maintained inside a terrarium.
The second cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea 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 Calathea is watering with hard water. Water the plants with chlorine-free water only like rain water.
Calathea are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water and they respond with brown leaf tips and edges.
The fourth cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea 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.
Apart from root-rot disease, Calathea is also prone to leaf spot disease due to the humid conditions in which it grows. 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. Read on how to treat leaf spot disease in houseplants.
According to ASPCA, Calathea are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.