How to Care for Calatheas

How to Care for Calatheas

Chris
5 minute read

With their striking patterns and boldly coloured foliage, it’s easy to understand why Calatheas are so sought-after and talked about in the plant community. But their beauty is not the only topic commonly discussed by plant enthusiasts – a common topic is actually how tricky they can be to grow. So if you’ve ever unsuccessfully grown a Calathea, don’t worry, you’re not the only one! In this article, we will provide you with all the care information you’ll need to help keep your beautiful and dramatic Calatheas happy.

What are Calatheas

Calatheas are a genus of flowering plants that are often referred to as “Prayer Plants” because similarly to their cousins in the Marantaceae family, their leaves fold upwards in the evening like praying hands. They are native to tropical America and there are around 60 known species of Calatheas. They are non-toxic to humans and pets.

 

a photo of "White Star" Calatheas

Care Needs

Bearing in mind that Calatheas grow under the canopies of humid tropical rainforests, our goal is to mimic their natural growing environments to the best of our ability.

a photo of a Calathea receiving bright, indirect sunlight

Light
Calatheas like medium (bright but indirect) light. An unobstructed East-facing window or a filtered West-facing window is ideal. If your space receives a lot of direct sunlight i.e., an unobstructed South-facing window, it’s best to keep the plant a safe distance away from that window. Calatheas leaves are delicate and therefore direct sunlight can cause the foliage colour to dull or worse, it can cause sunburn.

Temperature
Calatheas are not frost-tolerant. They require temperatures above 15°C to survive. If you have a cold or drafty window, best to keep the plant away from it.

Water
Calatheas will like their soil evenly and consistently moist but not wet. Allow water to drain completely after watering. Avoid ever letting the soil dry out completely. If you are a forgetful waterer or live a busy lifestyle, consider looking into purchasing watering globes. These will administer a steady amount of water as the soil dries out, keeping the soil consistently moist.

a photo of a Calathea Ornata with dried leaves

Humidity
This is usually the aspect that most plant enthusiasts either struggle with or overlook completely. Calatheas will want about 60% relative room humidity to thrive. Most Canadian homes max out at about 50% relative humidity, which may be enough for some species of Calathea but not enough for others. It’s really common that Calathea leaves will become crispy and brown around their leaf edges. This even happens in botanical conservatories, so don’t be too hard on yourselves! However, if you are finding that entire leaves are drying up then it’s time to look into ways to provide more humidity for your Calathea. Pebble trays, grouping plants, cloches or other enclosed structures and humidifiers are all great ways to provide a humidity boost for your plants. Read more about that on our blog “3 Effective Ways to Increase Humidity”.

Soil
Calatheas will love nutrient-rich house plant soil with optimal water retention but that is also well-draining. We recommend a mix of 60% house plant soil and 40% perlite.

a photo of 3 freshly propagated Calathea Orbifolias

Propagation
Although Calatheas can produce seeds, the easiest and most common way to propagate them is by division. Calatheas grow from underground rhizomes which can be easily separated. Note that Calatheas don’t like their roots disturbed often so try and time propagation for when you know you need to repot your plant!

Repotting
Calatheas are typically slow growers but are known to hit growth spurts if they are super happy. They can be repotted once every one or two years. Repot when you see roots growing out of the top or bottom of the pot, or if you find that your Calathea is drinking up water fast causing the soil to dry out quicker than usual. Remember to only go up one pot size at a time when repotting and try to repot in the springtime when the plant has the best chance at bouncing back and recovering from repotting stress.

A picture containing indoor, plant, flower, personDescription automatically generated

Pests
Calatheas are susceptible to all the common houseplant pests, however, they seem particularly prone to spider mites. Since Calatheas are so sensitive, it’s always best to practice preventative measures such as predatory mites or using neem or horticultural oil because they may have a harder time bouncing back after intense pest treatments. As always, be diligent and inspect for pests regularly. The sooner you notice them, the easier they will be to control. For more about pest control, check out our article “House Plants 101: Pest Control”.


Bonus tip

In our experience, the darker the foliage the easier the plant is to care for. Darker foliage can handle a little less light and humidity. The lighter the foliage, the fussier the plant can be. Light foliage plants will want filtered bright light and higher humidity levels. For example, Calathea Ornata or Calathea Makoyana is going to be a bit easier to care for than Calathea White Fusion or Calathea Orbifolia.

A picture containing zebra, plant, striped, treeDescription automatically generated
Left: Calathea Ornata Right: Calathea Orbifolia

Calatheas will more likely than not require a little troubleshooting if you’re new to growing them, but they are certainly worth the extra work. Once you’ve figured out what your Calatheas needs to make it happy, you can start to really enjoy their lush tropical beauty. Happy growing! 🌿

Calathea Lancifolia "Rattlesnake Plant"

Calathea Lancifolia

$24.00

Details Calathea lancifolia gets its nickname "Rattlesnake Plant" from its wavy snake-like leaves. There’s nothing poisonous about the Rattlesnake Plant - it is non-toxic to pets. Fun Fact The plants in the Calathea family are also known as "Prayer Plants" due to the… Read More

Calathea Ornata "Pinstripe Plant"

Calathea Ornata

$24.00

Details Calathea Ornata aka Pinstripe Plant or Pinstripe Calathea is known for its bold foliage - deep and dark green leaves which really help accentuate the pink stripes. Its leaves have a natural gloss to them, and their undersides are… Read More

Calathea 'Princess Jessie'

Calathea 'Princess Jessie'

$24.00

Details Another bold-leafed Calathea in our collection!  The Calathea "Princess Jessie" is known for its gorgeous medallion-like foliage. Its leaves have a natural gloss to them, and their undersides are coloured a gorgeous deep purple-red, making this a true statement plant.… Read More

Calathea Misto

Calathea Misto

$24.00

Details Calathea Misto is a subtly striking plant featuring delicate, slightly ruffled pale leaves that are light green in the middle with feathered dark green markings. Fun Fact The plants in the Calathea family are also known as "Prayer Plants" due to the… Read More

Calathea Rosy

Calathea Rosy

$24.00

Details Calathea "Rosy", also popularly referred to as Calathea "Crimson Red" is a lush beauty that produces large and round dark foliage with deep pink centres. The perfect statement plant for any collection. Fun Fact This plant is a cultivar… Read More

Calathea Makoyana “Peacock Plant”

Calathea Makoyana “Peacock Plant”

$24.00

Details Calathea Makoyana is also known as the Peacock Plant due to its ornately patterned foliage that resembles peacock feathers. Fun Fact The plants in the Calathea family are also known as "Prayer Plants" due to the way the leaves fold… Read More

« Back to Blog