How to grow and care for Calathea Indoors

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Calathea Care, Calathea spp Care

Photo credit: Amazon Uk

Botanical name: Calathea spp
Family: Marantaceae

Calathea Description

Calatheas are grown for their ornately patterned leaves. They are striking plants that will add a splash of color to any space. They make a spectacular focal point in any room.

Calathea Origin

Calathea are native to the tropical regions of America where they grow as understory plants.

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 leaves.

Due to their need for high humidity, Calatheas do well in a terrarium and a bottle garden where the humidity can be quite high.

Calathea Varieties

There are about 60 species in the Calathea genus.

Popular varieties of Calathea include Calathea makoyana commonly called Peacock Plant which is the showiest among the Calathea. With 1ft long papery leaves borne on long stalks and the decorative tracery, gives rise to one of its common names, Cathedral Windows.

One unique member in the Calathea group is the Calathea crocata which has quite plain foliage and it is popular for its display of erect orange-red flowers.

Other Calathea plants are Calathea zebrina (Zebra plant), Calathea insignis (Rattlesnake plant), Calathea roseopicta, Calathea lubbersii, and Calathea ornata among many others.

Calathea Related Plants

Calatheas are closely related to the Marantas, Ctenanthe and Stromanthe.

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

Calathea for Sale

Buy beautiful and healthy Calathea Plants from Etsy.

Calathea Care, Calathea spp Care

Calathea crocata

Calathea Care Indoors

Calathea Light Requirements

Calathea grow best in partial light as colors fade in bright light. Keep your Calathea away from direct sunlight as it can lead to sunburn on the leaves. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering Calathea

Watering Calathea requires keeping the soil moist at all times during the growing season. Reduce watering for your Calathea in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Use tepid water that is free of chlorine and flourides as Calathea are sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water.

Avoid soggy soil for your Calathea as it can lead to root-rot. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

To prevent fungal infestation, avoid wetting the foliage of your Calathea during watering or water from the bottom instead. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Calathea

Calathea prefer average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Protect your Calathea from cold draughts and sudden changes in temperature. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Calathea

Calathea require high humidity inorder to thrive. To raise humidity for your Calathea, surround the pot with wet moss or place the pot on a wet pebble tray.

Calathea 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 your Calathea 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

Clean the leaves of your Calathea by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Calathea Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Calathea with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once monthly through out the growing season.

Withhold feeding for your Calathea 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.

Repotting Calathea

Repot Calathea every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season. Use a pot with a drainage hole and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Calathea do not like to sit in soggy soil, therefore, ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole.

Divide your Calathea at the time of repotting and use the splits to propagate new Calathea plants.

Soil for Calathea Plants

The best soil for Calathea Plants should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for Calathea Plants.

Buy quality Potting Mix for your Calathea Plants from Etsy.

Pruning Calathea

Pruning Calathea is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and attractive.

Propagating Calathea

Calathea are propagated by division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting.

How to propagate Calatheas by division

Take out the Calathea plant from its pot and divide it into several sections.

Pot the Calathea sections into individual pots in moist free-draining soil. Ensure that each pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment of your Calathea plants.

Place the pots in a warm, shaded place until new growth has emerged in the Calathea sections.

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

Then, move the pots to a cool, shaded place and maintain the soil moist until the new Calathea plants are well established after which routine care can begin.

Calathea Care, Calathea spp Care

Calathea makoyana

Calathea Problems Indoors

Calathea dropping leaves

The cause of leaf drop in Calathea is too dry air (low humidity). Calatheas are very sensitive to low air humidity.

To raise humidity for your Calathea, surround the pot with wet moss or place the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

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

Calathea limp, rotting stems

The reasons for limp rotting stems in Calathea are that the air is too cold and or the soil is too wet. At this point, the plant may be too far gone to be saved.

Calathea leaves discolored or washed out

Direct sunlight on Calathea is the cause of discolored and washed out leaves. Move your Calathea to a more shaded spot or protect it from direct sunlight to prevent its death.

Calathea curled and spotted leaves

Underwatering is the cause of curled, spotted and yellowing lower leaves in Calathea.

Calathea requires that the soil be kept moist at all times during the growing season. Do not allow the soil dry out slightly between waterings during the growth period. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Calathea brown and dry leaf tips

The cause of brown and dry leaf-tips accompanied by stunted growth in Calathea is Red Spider Mites infestation due to the air being too dry.

Remove the dead growth and set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Calathea. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Calathea Pests

The common plant pests in Calatheas are 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.

Calathea Diseases

Calathea are prone to Leaf Spot Disease due to the humid conditions that they prefer.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the disease.

Is Calathea toxic?

Calathea are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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