How to make your Calathea love you back.
The calathea family has some of the most stunning foliage plants with boldly marked, oblong leaves in a dazzling array of colours. A common name for calathea, maranta, and other marantaceae, which are similar (but not identical) plants is prayer plant, and while it is more commonly known as that their foliage has earned them several nick names like zebra plant, peacock plant, or rattlesnake plant.
If you’re not into the architectural shapes of sansevierias, or if you’re tired of how common pothos are then prayer plants are the perfect low-light plant for you. This blog will mostly talk about calathea, but these tips should do well for any variety of prayer plant. Calatheas are true tropical plants that thrive and grow rather quickly, often reaching a mature size of one to two feet tall in a year if they are given the right growing conditions.
While many other varieties of plants are no salvageable once they lose all the leaves and die back, but not the prayer plants – they bounce back with proper light and water like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Now let’s discuss the trifecta of calathea care (or any other plants care): Light, Water, and Soil.
The calatheas grow on the forest floor of tropical rain forests and get dappled sunlight or low light courtesy of tall tropical trees. This factor alone makes the calatheas a great choice for north or east facing homes that have medium to low light.
TIP: The darker the calathea foliage, the lower is its light requirement.
Prayer plants love, love, love humidity. They are a tropical plant to the T. They love more than 50% humidity and it is the best way to ensure healthy foliage with no browning tips. You can increase humidity levels with a humidifier that are also great for you and your family. You can also increase it by placing the calatheas over a tray filled with pebbles and water. The pebbles will keep the pot from being submerged in water, and the natural evaporation of the water will help keep the air around the plant moist. They also love being grouped together and misting them is a great idea but only form the bottom up, so as to avoid water getting into tightly curled new leaves.
Calatheas love filtered and dechlorinated water, which is a little more demanding than your average indoor plant. One of the easiest hacks is to fill your watering can and leave it overnight to dissipate the chlorine.
Calathea enjoy moist but not soggy soil. One of the best potting mix proportions is a mix of 50% garden soil, 25% cocopeat, and 25% organic compost. Let the soil dry out slightly in between watering cycles, stick you finger two inches in and if the medium is dry, water thoroughly till it runs out of the pot and drain away the excess water.
While plastic, ceramic, and terracotta all work fine. The terracotta in general is good for any plants as the planter material helps in the evaporation of excess water and also lets the soil breathe. The only catch is ceramic and plastic planters might need less frequent watering than a ceramic planter.
Browning leaves/tips: Most likely, the cause is not enough humidity. If only the tips are brown, it may indicate that your water contains too many minerals or chemicals.
Fungus gnats: If you notice small insects that look like fruit flies around your plants, it’s possible that the high soil humidity made for an ideal home for fungus gnats. While they are harmless, they can be a nuisance. Try bottom watering your plant by submerging the pot in water and try to leave the first inch of soil dry.
Wilting, curling leaves, dry potting mix: The most common and obvious cause is underwatering. Keep the soil moist at all times, but not soggy.
Yellowing leaves and black base: The most common of all plant issues is overwatering. If the soil is too loamy and not well-draining the plant is at the risk of root rot due to water logging. Take care to not overwater your calathea, it is easier to save and underwatered plant than an overwatered one.
Some stunning but easiest to take care calatheas that will add a beautiful tropical touch to your home.
- Calathea lancifolia ‘rattlesnake’
- Calathea roseopicta ‘medallion’
- Calathea ornata ‘beauty star’
Get yourself a calathea and become a proud plant parent.