Calathea Light Requirements

Calathea Light Requirements

Calathea plants are gorgeous houseplants known for their eye-catching foliage. In order to make your Calathea thrive, it is important to know what kind of light to provide to it. All plants have a required amount of light to thrive, but there is more than just the amount of light you give to your plants.

It is important to know the most essential Calathea light requirements so you can make your plant thrive in your home.

The Most Important Calathea Light Requirements

When it comes to Calathea light requirements, there are three essential elements that you need to provide: light intensity, proper light duration, and adequate light quality. Make sure to know the basics of all three of these factors and how they affect your Calathea plant.

Light Intensity

Light intensity refers to how much light your Calathea plants need to thrive, and how much light is too much for these plants to bear. It is important to understand that Calathea are somewhat sun-loving plants, since they need bright light to thrive. On the other hand, too much sun exposure, particularly if it's direct, can be dangerous for Calathea plants.

You will notice this immediately: Calathea that has received too much light will have burnt leaves that are yellowing, curling or that have burn spots on the surface. You should never allow your Calathea plant to be subjected to too much sunlight.

On the other hand, Calathea plants can withstand some low light conditions, but these will not make your plant thrive. Calathea light requirements are bright but indirect light. In other words, you should avoid placing it at a spot with strong direct sunlight, but you should also avoid shade.

Keep these recommendations in mind when choosing the best spot for your Calathea plant. Go from room to room in your house and choose a spot that has bright yet indirect sunlight. A south-facing window tends to be a great spot for Calathea plants. West-facing window receive too much strong sun in the afternoon, so this might be too much for your plant. On the other hand, north-facing window might not provide enough light for your Calathea. If your only option is a west-facing window, make sure to use some sheer curtains to shield your Calathea plant from too much light.

Light Duration

Another important Calathea light requirement is the duration of the sunlight. It is typically measured in hours. Light duration refers to the number of hours of light that a plant receives during one day.

In order to make your Calathea plant thrive, it is important to provide it with 8 to 10 hours of sunlight per day. They need bright yet indirect light for this period of time. This is particularly important in the winter months, where it might not be easy to provide your Calathea with 8 to 10 hours of sun. In this case, it is important to use a special grow light to give your Calathea plants all the light they require.

One word of caution: if you choose to use artificial light, make sure to not overdo it. Do not provide more than 16 hours of light per day. Keep in mind that Calathea plants need some darkness. This will increase their respiration time, so they can redistribute their energy properly. In other words, make sure to provide some dark hours during the day.

Light Quality

Finally, it is important to remember another Calathea light requirement: light quality. It directly refers to the amount of green, red, blue, as well as far-red light that a light source provides. It is important to know how different parts of the spectrum affect your Calathea plant.

A red light (light in the red spectrum) helps Calathea plants to perform photosynthesis. On the other hand, blue light will contribute to amazing colors of the variegations in your Calathea plants.

While you may not choose light quality with sunlight, you can filter different light qualities with curtains. However, the most effective way to target specific light quality for your Calathea plants is to use artificial grow light.

Calathea Light Requirements: Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips on how to provide proper Calathea light requirements:

If you notice that one side of your Calathea plant is growing faster than the other side, make sure to rotate the container. It is possible that on side receives more light than the other. Rotating the plant will ensure that all sides of your Calathea receive adequate amounts of light.

If there are low light conditions, your Calathea plant can survive, but it will not thrive. You can place it in low light conditions but it still needs some light to survive. It will wilt with no light, so make sure to place your Calathea at a place that receives some light.

In case there is a lot of light in your home, or if you choose to grow your Calathea on a sunny balcony, make sure to provide your plant with some protection. Calathea is a tropical plant that naturally grows under the canopy of trees. It is important to provide it with some shade if you choose to grow it outdoors. Also, the only way to grow Calathea plants outdoors is if your climate is warm enough. Even then, it is recommended to bring your Calathea indoors during the winter months.

Photo credit: Maja Dumat


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