The Calathea is one of several houseplants that are grown only for their leaves. The plants and leaves themselves come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and each one usually has lovely, elaborately patterned leaves. On rare occasions, however, the markings can appear almost artificial or as though they were painted on by a skilled artist.
If you pay close attention, you’ll see that the leaves, which often stand stiffly apart from the main plant, shift slightly during the day in response to variations in temperature, humidity, and moisture requirements. We could go on and on about how lovely they are; instead, take a look at the pictures on this page, which should at least hint at the variety that is available.
This indoor plant is not cultivated for its blossoms (which tend to be rare indoors anyway). That is true for all Calatheas, with the exception of C. crocata, also known as the “Flowering Calathea,” which has recently grown to be incredibly well-liked and sought-after. It can be pricey, but the distinctively abundant orange blooms and very attractively formed (albeit plain) leaves can make the investment worthwhile.
They will develop huge leaves and develop into a fairly large houseplant if cared for properly. They won’t be able to stay on narrow window shelves for very long, although it’s debatable if this matters because they look their best when viewed from above.
Keep an eye out for C. makoyana, C. insignis, C. leopardina, C. zebrina, and C. lancifolia if you want to stick with the foliage as the main focus. The latter two are depicted in the image up top, and you can view the others.
However, all that beauty comes with a cost, and that cost is in the amount of maintenance required. Maintaining this indoor plant is difficult. Try something else initially if you lack experience or like minimal upkeep house guests. In either case, they can survive indoors for many years; just look at the inspiring others
The full list of care instructions is provided below. While not particularly complicated or exceptional, the plant is not forgiving if you neglect it for an extended length of time.
Avoid exposing Calatheas to direct sunlight to prevent losing their marks. On the other side, really black patches should also be avoided.
The best option would be a North facing windowsill, but any other location will suffice as long as you can give protection from the direct sunlight these areas would receive at some point during the day. For instance, a south-facing window that receives significant tree shade would be perfect.
When it comes to the Calathea’s watering requirements, people frequently run into trouble, and this is why. This plant must always have access to moisture, yet it must never be “wet” or submerged in water.
In the growing seasons,
this entails providing regular, tiny amounts of water as soon as the surface begins to dry out. Although the plant will be a little lenient and tolerate less water when Winter approaches and settles in and the weather becomes cooler and darker.
Similar to how you water, humidity is crucial for a Calathea to seem healthy and lovely. High humidity is a requirement for all of them, and failing to deliver it is one of the main reasons they fail. For a bottle garden, young or naturally petite kinds would be ideal.
In a very dry environment, regular misting of the leaves, while helpful, is unlikely to be effective over the long term. If this is not an option, you must find other ways to increase humidity. If you’re serious about keeping this plant indoors and are having trouble maintaining a high level of humidity, take a look at our page on humidity for some advice.
Feed your plant with a proprietary houseplant fertiliser that is half strength every two weeks during the growing seasons (Spring and Summer) if it has been growing well for at least a year. In the winter, use none at all, and stay away from leaf shine products, especially those that contain fertiliser.
Temperature Plants will grow healthily and vigorously in warm to high temperatures with enough ventilation but no strong draughts. Throughout the year, aim for a temperature range of 15 °C (60 °F) to 21 °C (70 °F). Never go below 15 °C (59 °F).
Repotting should be done every year or every other year in the Spring or Summer if your plant is doing well. At repotting time, you can propagate your Calathea (see below), albeit the general “bushy” appearance will be somewhat altered.
By division, huge Calatheas can be propagated relatively easily. A single central root stock is the source of all the leaves, and during time, a clump of these roots will develop and extend out somewhat from the centre. All you have to do is gently cut the plant in half, or if it was a very huge plant to begin with, even smaller pieces, and pot each new segment into its own pot. Make an effort to include some of the original roots in each part.
All that’s left to do is cover the pots and new plants with plastic to keep the divisions shaded, warm, and wet. Remove the plastic and continue growing normally whenever fresh growth can be seen (typically within a month).
Rapidity of Growth
These houseplants develop at a comparatively quick rate.
Dimension / Spread
With the right care, indoor Calatheas can mature and grow to be quite enormous. The Flowering Calathea will grow to a lesser size of about 30 cm (12 in) (without the height of the blooms), but the others might easily grow to a size of 60 cm (2 ft).
Since the conditions aren’t ideal for them to flower, the majority of Calatheas do not flower, or rather, they do not flower indoors.
C. crocata is an exception to this rule because it actually produces lovely orange flowers that wave above the plant’s basic foliage, rather than being valued for its leaf markings or shape. If you keep the conditions favourable as described above, C. crocata will bloom once more.
Some of our readers have grown Calathea species other than C. crocata inside. If you’re interested in seeing what they look like, they’ve graciously shared their images in the comments below.
Calathea Plants Are They Poisonous?
A stunning foliage plant with the extra benefit of not being toxic to humans or animals.
Recap of Calathea Plant Care: Medium Light
Avoid the full sun and the dark; the ideal environment is somewhere in the between.
You must continue to water the plants as they grow in order to maintain the soil damp and moist. It must never be “wet” or “soggy,” though.
Tempers that are warm
This tropical plant requires constant warmth between 15 °C (60 °F) to 21 °C (70 °F).
During the spring and summer, feed the soil once or twice a month.
Considering that all Calathea plants enjoy high humidity, this is challenging to do! However, this is totally conceivable if the surrounding air is extremely humid. Attempt to increase the area’s ventilation.
Your plants are in serious jeopardy if red spider mites are establishing a presence. Red spider mites can be quite difficult to see with the human eye, but they produce distinctive cobwebs that instantly identify them as the problem.
Because these mites abhor extremely humid environments, your plant is in big trouble because it requires this type of atmosphere to grow in your home. Therefore, if this pest appears, your Calathea isn’t being adequately cared for and is probably already having trouble. As a result, the Spider Mite attacks will cause more harm than if they had been directed at a healthy plant.