All You Need to Know about Growing Calathea Plants

Foliage-type plant lovers usually mention Calathea as one of their favorite plants. This plant group consists of several species, but each of them has distinctive looks.

The wide leaves have stripes or markings that look very visible. The color combinations are quite dramatic, such as light green, dark green, white, purple, and pink.

Despite the striking look, Calathea plant can be quite fussy. It needs strict requirements to grow, and serious gardeners even use greenhouses to cultivate it. Nevertheless, you will end up with amazing-looking house plants if you are patient enough.

1. Common Types of Calathea Plants

Calathea consists of various species that have unique physical characteristics. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia has slightly “muted” look, but it is loved because of its elegance. It has wide, light green leaves with stripes that form subtle “engravings”. A Bolivian native, this plant can grow to several feet high.

  • zebrina

Also known as zebra plant, Calathea zebrina has green markings on the top surface, which resemble zebra patterns. The undersides of the leaves are usually purple. This perennial plant can grow to one foot tall.

  • lancifolia

Calathea lancifolia is the Latin name for rattlesnake plant. A native to Brazil, this plant has slender leaves with dark markings and purple underside.

  • makoyana

Calathea makoyana is commonly known as peacock plant. Growing to two feet tall, this plant looks eye-catching with green, white, and purple color combination.

  • medallion

Calathea medallion has unique leaves. They are slightly rounder than other Calathea plants, with white edge markings that resemble leaf silhouettes. The undersides of the leaves are purple.

Looking for exceptional leaf shapes with muted green color? Calathea rufibarba is a great choice. Also known as Susan’s in the Garden, this Brazilian native plant has wavy leaf ridges, with soft texture underneath.

2. Requirements to Plant Calathea

Regardless of species, Calathea needs a lot of requirements to grow happily. Some of them are:

  • High humidity

Calathea loves humidity, and its wide leaves absorb moisture from the air. If you live in areas with dry weather, prepare to have a humidifier.

  • Bright, indirect light

All Calathea varieties love bright but indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, creating brown patches or edges while washing out the leaves’ original shades.

  • Constant warm temperature

Because most Calathea species originated from tropical regions, they prefer warm temperature. The standard growing temperature for Calathea is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). This plant also cannot thrive in areas with extreme weather patterns.

  • Enough water

Calathea cannot withstand overwatering or underwatering. You must manage the watering frequency and amount carefully to let it grow.

Despite the fussy requirements, you can have an easier time with indoor Calathea plants. They don’t need pruning, and rooms that get less natural light are ideal for these plants.

3. Steps to Repot Calathea Starter Plants

The easiest way to grow Calathea at home is by buying a starter plant. You should encourage healthy growth by repotting it properly. Here are the steps:

  • Choose the right moment and pot

Calathea repotting is ideally done in late spring or early summer. Choose a new pot that is slightly larger than the starter plant container. The pot must have drainage holes and saucer underneath.

  • Mix the right soil

Create ideal soil mixture for Calathea by mixing one part of potting soil with two parts of peat moss and two parts of perlite. Add a little water while mixing them into moist, uniformed, but still grainy mixture. Place coffee filter sheet at the base of the pot.

  • Inspect the starter plant

Remove the plant from the root ball and inspect the roots system. Remove all the damage before holding it on the new pot until the tip of the roots touches the soil. Fill the pot with the remaining soil, and pat slightly (not too tightly).

If you want to see beautiful Calathea flower, try adding regular organic fertilizer during spring, summer, and fall after planting it.

4. Caring for Indoor Calathea Plants

Aside from putting Calathea pot on the spot with indirect light, you must pay attention to the daily care. Avoid watering the plant too much, but don’t wait until the soil is cracked and dry. Water before the soil becomes dry, but never overwater it. Make sure the water used is distilled, and not “hard” or “soft” water.

While Calathea does not need pruning, it still needs constant removal of yellow, brown, or damaged leaves. Pay attention to the temperature inside the house, and when you see the leaves curled, it means that the temperature has dropped under the ideal condition.

5. Common Diseases and Problems

Proper Calathea care means knowing the signs of diseases or problems, and how to solve them. Here are some common blights that can happen to your plant:

  • Scale insects and aphids

Scale insects and aphids are common in Calathea. You can use manual way to remove them, such as spraying the plant with a hose or scraping/picking up the insects yourself.

  • Spider mites

Spider mites are a bit more difficult to handle than aphids. If the infestation is small, you can spray the plant hard with a hose, or picking them one by one. If possible, don’t use a chemical pesticide, and use horticulture oil or gardening soap.

  • Root rot

Root rot can happen when you overwater the plant. The result is wet soil that slowly makes the root system rot.

  • Leaf spot

Leaf spot is a condition where the leaves develop dark spots, which are followed by wilting and death. Leaf spot can be caused by bacteria (such as Pseudomonas) or fungus (Fusarium and Alternaria).

The key is to use a fungicide or plant antibiotic and remove all the infected plants. You must also sanitize the pot and soil of the affected plants.

  • Snails and slugs

Snails and slugs love the wide leaves of Calathea, and they can bring tremendous damage. You can pick them up when you see them. To prevent their comebacks, use molluscicide.

These problems are common among Calathea plants, and your local gardeners or nursery owners can give solutions about how to solve them properly.

Calathea plants may be a bit fussy, but the indoor treatments for them are quite easy. If treated well, they will produce large, impressive leaf patterns and shapes. Perfect to adorn apartment, bedroom, patio, balcony, or even your office.

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