Calatheas can be seen in most nurseries as they have attracted our attention with their beautiful striking foliage.
There are many different varieties of Calathea on the market: rattlesnake plant, zebra plant, peacock plant, pinstripe Calathea, the list goes on. They originate from the jungle of the Amazon in South America. Most Calathea won’t flower in our indoor environment apart from the Crocata Calathea. Calathea belongs to the Marantaceae family. Once the plant is mature, its height can reach 30 to 50cm.
These plants are relatively easy to look after. You will find that the leaves react to the light at a fixed time of the day. They are open in broad daylight and close when the light drops.
“If you want an ornamental plant, which changes shape throughout the day, it is plant is for you.”
|Marantaceae||South America||15 – 24º+|
|Yes||Indirect light, light shade||Bushy|
|Moist soil, not soggy||Not known of||Medium|
|Slower in winter||To be near a cold window or a radiator||Spring/Summer|
Calathea’s Golden rules
Do not leave your plant in a cold draft or near a cold window
Do not leave your plant next to a radiator
Do not overwater it or let it dry out, keep it moist
Do not leave the roots in constant contact with water for an extended period of time
Do not place it in direct sun, it will scorch the leaves.
There are so many varieties
They need some use to, once you have a good routine, Stick to it
Light and Location
These plants thrive in bright light but no direct sunlight. If you put your Calathea in direct sunlight, the leaves will fade. The sun can also scorch the leaves.
A North facing window is a good location for these plants. However, they can be in any location as long they are away from direct sunlight. They also like a shady spot.
The key is to keep them in indirect light and they will be happy.
Calatheas like moist soil, but not soaking wet.
In summer, water twice a week with rainwater if you can. If you do not have access to rainwater, let the tap water sit in a watering can overnight, the chemicals inside will evaporate overnight.
The soil should dry out slightly between waterings.
In winter, weekly watering is enough, providing the temperature of your home is not too high. If it is too dry or too hot, spray the underside of the leaves daily. You will have to play by ear about watering your plant and base your watering routine on the temperature of your own home.
Temperature & Humidity
Calatheas like warm temperatures. They love temperatures between 15 to 25º+. You can put them outside in the shade during the summer months in England. If the temperatures drop out, as it can often be the case in England, bring it back inside. I would mention that you should not leave your Calathea near a cold draft/window or next to a radiator.
Repotting & Compost
The best time to repot your Calathea is the end of Spring. Yet, if you think your plant needs repotting because the roots are showing at the bottom of its pot, just repot it.
Generally, you can repot your plant once or every one or two years, depending on how much you want them to grow and how they grow.
When you repot your plant, only repot one size up pot.
Calatheas like their soil slightly acidic. Ensure there is good drainage by adding a layer of small clay balls at the bottom of the pot.
The way I make my compost which has proved to be successful is:
50% houseplant potting mix;
30% Ericaceous compost;
10% garden pumice (for drainage);
10% horticultural charcoal.
The first time I repot my plants, I always add Rootgrow which is a mycorrhizal fungi. It is entirely natural and plants friendly fungi. Always read the directions for the right dosage.
The horticultural charcoal will get rid of impurities. It airs the soil and helps to increase the drainage and to grow healthy roots. It adds a source of carbon to plants, speeds water drainage, allows good airflow in the subsoil and inhibits the growth of bacteria.
In their native environment, Calatheas live in moist sandy soil.
Fertilise your plant every two weeks from spring to autumn with half-strength fertiliser. This will promote new growth.
I use Plantwork from Empahy. It is a natural plant stimulant that helps plant development.
Worm casting is also another good option.
You can divide your plant if you want to propagate it. Be aware that it will change its appearance.
After you have repotted them, water your plants and keep them in a shady, warm corner for 3 to 4 weeks. Water it when necessary. As soon as you see new growths, you will know you have succeeded.
Cleaning the leaves
Wipe any dirt or dust with a damp cloth. Be gentle not to break the leaves.
Showering your Calathea is an excellent method to get rid of the dust.
Do not use leaf shine on these plants.
These plants grow at a slow to moderate rate depending on which variety of Calathea you have.
The location of your plant in your home will also determine how it grows. When it is happy and has received the right balance of care and light, it can grow faster.
There is no need to prune a calathea plant. You only have to cut yellow or dead leaves.
Rolled and brown leaves is a lack of humidity. Make a humidity tray to increase humidity. You can spray your plant with rainwater or soft water especially in hot weather. You can also cluster a few plants together to create a mini greenhouse.
Brown edge of leaves/tips indicates too much fertiliser, a lack of humidity or fluoride in water. Once more, make a humidity tray to increase humidity. You can also spray your plant with rainwater or soft water especially in hot weather.
Cleanse the soil with water to get rid of too much fertiliser.
Always put your plant in quarantine if you have any pests on our plants.
Spider mites can do some damage to a Calathea. They suck the sap of the leaves and can kill the plant if undetected. They are very hard to detect as they are tiny. Use a fungicide to resolve this problem and repeat treatment two weeks later. Ensure that your plant has enough water.
Aphides and scale insect suck sap from the leaves and stems of plants. Clean your plant to remove any insect.
Another way to get rid of pests is to clean your plant with a damp cloth and a little amount of washing liquid. Repeat every week until your plant is cleared.Top up with fungicide.
Truly Yummy Things
It is also a sourcebook for houseplants and outdoor plants with a manual to keep them beautiful for many years to come.
I am a firm believer in recycling old furniture and sustainable products for your home. I like to think that truly beautiful things in our home has the power to improve our mood and make us smile without always spending a fortune.