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Calathea Plant Care Guide

Summary:

This guide can also be applied to Maranta & Ctenanthe.

Light Conditions: Indirect, moderate to bright light.

Humidity: Appreciative of a high humidity but can withstand regular house humidity. Low humidity can cause brown patches and crispy tips.

Watering: Keep soil consistently moist, but not soggy. During the cooler months when the soil will take longer to dry out, water less frequently.

Feed: Regularly during growing season with a houseplant specific fertiliser.

Skill Level: Medium.
 
Calathea Makoyana 'Peacock Plant'
 

If you're in search of a striking and vibrant plant to add a touch of tropical beauty to your indoor space, look no further than the Calathea. With its stunning foliage patterns and unique leaf movements, the Calathea is sure to captivate any plant enthusiast. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the care requirements of Calathea plants, including their light conditions, watering needs, and maintenance level. So, let's dive in and discover the secrets to keeping your Calathea thriving and flourishing.

Light Conditions:

Calathea plants thrive in indirect, moderate to bright light. They prefer a well-lit spot but avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as it can scorch their delicate leaves. Find a location close to a north or east-facing window where they can enjoy filtered or dappled sunlight throughout the day. If in a west or south facing window - pull them a few feet back during the brighter months of the year. If your space doesn't receive adequate natural light, you can supplement it with artificial grow lights to provide the necessary brightness.

Some of the hardier varieties can acclimatise to a slightly lower, medium level of light. I find Maranta 'Leuconeura' to be quite versatile with both it's lighting conditions and water regime.

Calathea Rufibarba 'Furry Feather'

Watering:

When it comes to watering your Calathea, it's all about finding the right balance. Keep the soil consistently moist, but be cautious not to overwater and allow the plant to sit in standing water. Calatheas prefer a damp environment, so aim for a watering routine that ensures the soil doesn't completely dry out between waterings. It's advisable to use room temperature, filtered water to avoid chlorine or mineral buildup that can affect the plant's health.

Don't worry - with a bit of practice and once youre accostomed to your plant and how quickly it dries out, your watering will become much more instinctive.

Top tip: take note of the weight of your plant before and after watering, that way you will learn whether it's ready for another water just by quickly picking it up.

Repotting: 

Calatheas typically appreciate being repotted every one to two years, or when they outgrow their current container. Choose a pot that is one size larger and use well-draining, quality potting mix. Repotting not only provides fresh nutrients but also prevents the plant from becoming root-bound, which can lead to stunted growth and yellow leaves.

The substrate you use will effect how quickly your plant is drying out. If you are an underwater, use a slightly denser mix which will retain water for longer. If you tend to be heavy handed with the watering can - add in extra amendments such as back chips or perlite.

Calathea Lancifolia 'Rattlesnake'

Seasonal Care:

Calathea plants have specific care needs that vary with the changing seasons. Here's a breakdown of their seasonal requirements: 

  • Spring and Summer: During the warmer months, Calatheas appreciate slightly more frequent watering to accommodate their active growth. Monitor the soil moisture regularly and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Additionally, consider increasing humidity levels around the plant by misting the leaves or placing a humidifier nearby. This helps mimic their natural tropical environment and prevents their delicate leaves from drying out. Top tip: Calathea THRIVE in a warm, bright bathroom where they can bathe in the steam from your showers.
  • Autumn and Winter: As the temperatures drop and daylight hours shorten, Calatheas may experience a period of dormancy if they are not being supplied with supplemental light, during this time they probably won't give you any new growth until they wake up again in Spring. Adjust your watering frequency during this time, allowing the top third or more of your soil to dry out before watering again. Be cautious not to let the soil become bone-dry, as it can lead to leaf curling or browning. It's also important to keep your Calathea away from drafts or cold windows to protect them from chilly drafts, as well away from the heat of radiators!

    Pet-Friendly Nature:

    If you share your living space with furry friends, you'll be pleased to know that Calatheas are considered non-toxic to cats and dogs. However, it's still best to keep curious pets from nibbling on the leaves, as excessive ingestion may cause mild digestive upset. As responsible pet owners, it's always wise to observe your pets' behavior and ensure they don't have access to plants that may pose a risk.

     

    Calathea Musaica 'Network'

    Maintenance Level:

    Calatheas fall into the category of medium maintenance plants. While they require a bit more attention compared to some low-maintenance houseplants, their stunning foliage and captivating movements make them worth the effort. It is worth noting that some plants are more high maintenance than others, for beginners, I would recommend the 'Lancifolia' or 'Makoyana' which are both quite forgiving if you aren't familiar with Prayer Plants and their needs - in comparison the 'Orbifolia' or 'White Fusion' can leave even a seasoned plant parent scratching their head.

    Regular care tasks for your Calathea may include: 

    • Leaf Cleaning: Dust tends to accumulate on the large, decorative leaves of Calatheas. Wipe the leaves gently with a damp cloth or use a soft brush to keep them clean and free from dust, allowing the plant to breathe properly.
    • Pruning: Remove any dead or brown leaves promptly to maintain the plant's appearance and make it easier to keep an eye on the healthy foliage. Use clean, sterilized pruning shears or scissors to make precise cuts.
    •  Fertilization: Calatheas benefit from regular feeding during their active growing season. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants. Follow the package instructions for the correct dilution and frequency of application. Avoid overfertilization, as it can lead to salt buildup in the soil, causing leaf burn or stunted growth.

      Leaf Movements:

      One of the captivating features of Calatheas is their unique leaf movements. They exhibit a phenomenon known as "nyctinasty," where the leaves open and close in response to changes in light and darkness. Witness this natural display by observing your Calathea in the morning and evening, adding an element of fascination to your indoor gardening experience.

      With their stunning foliage patterns, the Calathea family offers a wide variety of choices to suit your taste. Some popular Calathea varieties include:

      • Calathea Mayokana 'Peacock Plant': Known for its striking leaf patterns which mimic the pattern of peacock feathers.
      • Calathea Rufibarba 'Furry Feather': Green leaves with deep burgundy undersides and a velvety soft texture.
      • Calathea Lancifolia 'Rattlesnake': Characterized by long, wavy leaves with dark green and deep purple markings.
      • Calathea Musaica 'Network': Its leaves look like they have each been individually painted on to create this super intricate pattern.

      Remember, each Calathea variety may have slightly different care requirements, so it's important to research and cater to the specific needs of your chosen plant.

      Ready to bring the beauty of Calathea into your home? Explore our selection of Calathea plants and create your own indoor oasis today. Shop now and add a touch of tropical elegance to your space!

      Shop Calathea, Ctenanthe & Maranta 'Prayer Plants'.

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