Calathea: Basic Growing Conditions

Calathea Soil

Calathea is a genus that includes gorgeous plants you can grow in your home. In fact, these are some of the most striking plants you can grow. Calathea are tropical plants famous for their gorgeous foliage. These plants are closely related to the equally beautiful Maranta plants. Calathea plants are known for their old, upright leaves that come in many different colors. The leaves are typically marked and oblong, and grow on long, upright stalks.

If you wish to grow Calathea in your home, keep in mind that these are true tropical plants. As such, they require certain conditions you need to provide in order to make your Calathea thrive. However, most of these conditions are not so difficult to meet so it's possible to have a healthy and beautiful Calathea plant in your home. That being said, expect to make an effort to have your Calathea thrive. This effort is completely worth it because Calathea plants are so gorgeous and can truly brighten up your home.

Popular Varieties

There are many popular varieties of Calathea plants you can grow in your home. The most common ones include:

  • Calathea makoyana. This variety has purple coloring on the undersides of the leaves. The top of the foliage is white and green. This popular variety is known as Peacock plant.
  • Calahea zebrina. This variety has green markings on the leaf top while the undersides of the leaves are purple. The variety is known as Zebra plant.
  • Calathea crocata. This variety has plain leaves but it has upright, orange-red flowers that look very attractive.
  • Calathea ornata. This variety has red markings on the leaf tops while the undersides of leaves are purple.

Basic Growing Conditions

Here are the basic growing conditions you need to provide to you Calathea plant to make it thrive in your home:

  • Light: Calathea requires dappled light or some shade indoors. You should never expose your Calathea plant to direct sunlight, especially during noon and early afternoon. Too much direct light will make the leaf colors fade.
  • Soil: These plants do best when they grow in a well-drained potting mix.
  • Watering requirements: Calathea plants require high humidity. In order to achieve this, you need to keep the soil continuously moist throughout the whole spring and summer. During the winter, make sure to reduce the watering amount.
  • Ideal temperature: Calathea plants require humid and warm conditions. It is best to keep your Calathea plant in the room that is above 60 degrees F.
  • Fertilizer: Calathea plants need some feeding on a regular basis. You need to provide them with liquid fertilizer throughout the whole growing season. Make sure to stop fertilizing in the winter.
  • Repotting: You should repot your Calathea plant every year (or, alternatively, every other year). Provide your plant with a fresh potting mix. It is best to divide your Calathea during repotting.
  • Propagating your Calathea: Keep in mind that it is possible to propagate your Calathea. This is best done by division during repotting. Simply take new divisions and keep them warm and moist. This is best achieved by covering the pot with some plastic. Make sure to provide them with reduced light until you notice them actively growing.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips on growing your Calathea:

  • Calathea plants are highly sensitive to cold and drafts. They do not tolerate sudden fluctuations in temperature. For this reason, make sure to grow them in warm, humid and bright conditions. Also, make sure that these conditions are stable.
  • While Calathea plants like bright conditions they do not tolerate direct sunlight. Keep this in mind when deciding on the best spot for your Calathea plant.
  • Calathea plants can do great in bottle gardens and terrariums. These places are known for high humidity, which can make your Calathea plant thrive.
  • If you grow your Calathea in arid conditions remember that it might attract pests, such as mites and scale. Keep this in mind when deciding where to grow your Calathea plant.

Photo credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking

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