12 Reasons for Calathea Dying and How to Save It


Calathea Plants are fussy plants that are not easy to grow indoors and may begin to die if the right growing conditions are not provided.

Calathea are tropical plants which thrive in medium to bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can damage their fragile leaves resulting in sunburn and dullness in the color of leaves.

The Calathea Plants also require high humidity to mimic their natural habitat. They grow best in moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

If the correct growing conditions are missing, the Calathea Plant will develop problems and may even die. Below are 12 reasons why a Calathea Plant may die and how to fix them.

Calathea Plant, Calathea spp

12 Reasons Why a Calathea Plant is Dying and How to Save It

1. Exposure to direct sunlight

Exposure of Calathea to direct sunlight causes sunburn marks, discolored, washed out, drooping leaves, wilting and eventual death of the plant.

How to fix it

Position the Calathea Plant in a more shaded spot or instal a light curtain to shield it from direct sunlight to prevent its eventual death.

2. Too little light

Calathea grow best in medium to bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight. Light is necessary for photosynthesis, the process of making food, needed for growth and energy for the plant.

Therefore, too little light means that the plant cannot make enough food for growth and development which results in stunted growth and death of the plant.

How to fix it

Move the plant to a brighter spot or instal grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient. Take a look at these full spectrum grow lights available on Amazon.

Calathea crocata, Eternal Flame

3. Incorrect watering

Incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering, a Calathea will result in curled, spotted, yellow and drooping leaves and eventual death of the plant.

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.

How to fix it

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.

Cut down on 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.

4. Cold drafts

Cold drafts coupled with too moist soil cause sudden changes in temperature which will lead to limp rotting stems in Calathea and eventual death of the plant.

How to fix it

To prevent the occurence of limp, rotting stems, keep the Calathea Plant away from cold drafts to 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.

Calathea Plant

5. Low humidity

Calathea are very sensitive to low air humidity and will respond with drooping leaves, brown, dry leaf tips and edges which can result in plant death. How to fix it

To increase humidity for Calathea, group the plants together, grow the plant in a bathroom or other humid areas in the home, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

You can also grow the Calathea Plant in a terrarium as a high humidity can easily be maintained inside a terrarium.

6. Pot bound plant

If a Calathea Plant is pot bound, the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil to hold water when the plant is watered which will cause the leaves to droop and the plant to wilt and die.

If the soil can hold enough water, it implies that there is no water for the plant to take up to the leaves for photosynthesis therefore, the plant cannot make adequate food for growth.

How to fix it

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.

Thereafter, repot the Calathea Plant 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. Check out these Ceramic Pots with Drainage Holes and Saucer on Amazon.

7. Accumulation of salts & chemicals in the soil

Accumulation of salts or chemicals in the soil will cause brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea which may result in death of the plant.

These salts and chemical may have originated from watering with hard water or the fertilizers used.

How to fix it

Water the Calathea Plants with chlorine-free water only like rain water as Calathea are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water.

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.

8. Pest infestations

Calathea is prone to mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites which cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges accompanied by stunted growth.

How to fix it

Pest infestation in Calathea is prevalent in low humidity conditions. Therefore raise humidity or grow the plant in a bathroom or other humid conditions in the home to discourage pests.

Keep the Calathea Plant well groomed by removal of dead and yellow foliage to minimize pest infestations. Cut the leaves with a clean sharp knife or scissors at the base, where the leaf meets the stalk.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests with an Insecticidal soap or Neem oil to get rid of the pests. Make sure to cover the entire plant..

Calathea Plant

9. Root-rot disease

Root-rot in Calathea is characterized by yellowing and wilting of the leaves which is rapidly followed by browning and plant collapse.It is promoted by soggy soil.

How to fix it

Take the Calathea 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 copper-based 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.

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.

10. Leaf spot disease

Leaf spot disease is indicated by brown patches surrounded by a yellow halo and is prevalent in warm, humid conditions coupled with poor air circulation.

How to fix it

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the rest of the plants and spray the affected plant with a systemic fungicide and ensure all the parts are completely covered with the fungicidal solution.

11. Improper feeding

Overfeeding a Calathea Plant will cause the roots to die due to fertilizer burn. When the roots die, they cannot take up nutrients and water required for photosynthesis, thus the plant begins to die.

Underfeeding a Calathea Plant implies that the plant is not getting enough nutrients needed for growth, therefore, the plant begins to die.

Inadequate nutrients in the actively growing tips causes nutrients to be withdrawn from the older lower leaves which begin to yellow and drop.

How to fix it

Feed the Calathea Plant 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.

12. Poor quality Soil

Poor quality soil does not drain easily and therefore it easily becomes compacted or soggy which can result in reduced growth and death of the Calathea Plant.

How to fix it

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 multi-purpose potting mix available on Amazon

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