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Botanical Name: Calathea
Country of Origin: The Americas
Watering Requirements: Regular watering
Lighting Requirements: Indirect light
Humidity Requirements: Prefer moist air
Soil Type: Well draining
Calathea Height: Approximately 2 feet
Calathea are a beautiful family of plants with lush foliage that originate from the tropical regions, but thanks to central heating and humidifiers we can now keep them in our homes. Caring for Calathea can be tricky but with care guides such as these there’s no reason you can’t add one of these to your house plant collection.
Known as plants that are quite difficult to care for, they’re not often the first house plant you normally buy but if you’re ready to dive into the beautiful leaves of the Calathea family then let’s get started.
Calathea Plant Care Instructions
If you’re new to Calathea care of you just want to make sure you’re doing a good job then you’re in the right place.
Below we have outlined the basic needs for your Calathea plants based on lighting, watering, temperature, humidity, feeding and propagation.
Calathea Light Requirements
Calathea plants require indirect bright light. You don’t want to sit this plant on a south facing windowsill in full view of the sun but you also don’t want to place it on a shelf at the back of the room.
If you have a choice then opt for a north facing windowsill or if that isn’t an option for you then consider purchasing a sheer curtain so your plant can be exposed to bright light without suffering damage from direct sunlight.
Calathea Watering Requirements
A Calathea plant is that likes to be moist. You want to water your plant often enough that the soil remains moist. If it isn’t getting enough watering the plant will tell you with drooping leaves or crispy tips.
This doesn’t mean overwatering though. Even though you don’t want to wait until the soil becomes bone dry until you water it, you also don’t want it to be sopping wet all the time. The soil needs to dry out a bit between waterings or the plant can become overwatered.
You can get a good feel for this by feeling the top few inches of soil with your fingers, when you feel it drying out give it a drink. And when you do water your Calathea make sure you do so thoroughly.
If you don’t trust your fingers to measure the moisture correctly then why not consider buying a moisture stick to detect the levels in the soil. This can be a big help for beginners who aren’t sure what moist actually means.
To prevent your soil from becoming too wet when watering try mixing in perlite with your potting soil. We would recommend the Espoma Organic Perlite that you can find on Amazon
Traditionally coming from tropical regions, the plants in the Calathea family like to be warm. They will not do well placed next to a drought and will suffer if left to become too cold.
However, it’s important to be aware that if you do put a heating system on to keep your plants warm that this can cause the air to dry out which could harm your plants. So if you are using the heater in winter months make sure you give them an extra misting or turn the humidifier up.
Also don’t put these plants on top of radiators of fire places as this can cause the soil to dry out and you’ll see some serious damage in your foliage.
As we mentioned above the Calathea traditionally comes from the tropics, which means they like it quite humid. If you allow the air to become too dry around your plant which can happen in winter when we turn our central heating up then you will notice crisping on your foliage.
A great way around this is to place them in a bathroom where they will receive humidity from the shower, invest in a humidifier or mist your plants daily to help keep them nice and moist.
Our number one humidifier recommendation is the Levoit humidifier you can find on Amazon as it has a 6L capacity, both cold and warm mist and a built in humidity sensor to enable it to automatically adjust it’s mist output to reach your desired humidity level.
Feed Calathea plants during the spring and summer when they are actively going. You can add fertiliser to the soil once a month during growing season to see results and stop as the winter months draw in.
You can propagate Calathea by separating them at the root system and placing a new segment of plant into a fresh pot with soil. This is the best approach to propagating this type of plants rather than doing leaf cuttings.
Here are some of the most common types of Calathea plants that you may want to consider getting to add a touch of greenery to your home.
Types Of Calathea Plant
- Calathea Ornata
- Calathea Musaica
- Calathea Medallion
- Calathea Picturata
- Calathea Orbifolia
- Calathea Stromata
- Calathea Lancifolia
- Calathea Dottie
- Calathea Roseopicta
- Calathea Vittata
- Calathea Albertii
- Calathea Warscewiczii
- Calathea Louisae
- Calathea Gandersii
- Calathea Ecuadoriana
- Calathea Libbyana
- Calathea White Fusion
Although our Calathea care guide should be enough to get you started if you’re planning on buying individual plants within this family then make sure you read the information concerning them as separate plants rather than assuming that every single one will require the same type of care.
Now you’ve gotten to know about how to care for a Calathea from our Calathea care guide, take a look at some commonly asked questions to expand your green knowledge.
How often to water Calathea?
How often your water your Calathea will depend on the conditions inside your home, but a good way to think of it is that a Calathea likes to be moist but don’t overwater your plant. Don’t let the soil completely dry out between watering but also don’t have it dripping out of the pot every day.
In summer you may need to water it once a week and in winter this could drop down to once a fortnight or even longer. Make sure you check your individual plant as different houses have different light and temperatures going on.
Should You Mist A Calathea?
If you live somewhere that has lower levels of humidity then misting your Calathea is a definite must. As Calathea are plants used to humid environments, they can dry out and develop crispy leaves if there is not sufficient moisture in the air. A great way to combat this is by misting your calathea. If you do this frequently enough this can mimic the moisture found in a more humid environment.
Why Are My Calathea Leaves Drooping?
Part of Calathea care involved understanding what’s wrong with your plant and what you can do to fix it.
The leaves on a Calathea move about a lot during the day. If you’ve never seen this then youtube a Calathea time lapse. So make sure you’re not just looking at your plant at a time of the day when their leaves may have dropped.
If your leaves are constantly drooped then this could be a sign of underwatering. Check the moisture of the soil and see if your plant needs a drink. Remember that although they don’t want to be sitting in water, your Calathea likes it wet.
How Do You Revive A Dying Calathea?
To revive a dying Calathea you need to first work out the cause. Check the soil, is it bone dry or is it soaking wet? Respond to this and get your soil to a nice moist level that isn’t drowning your plant.
Next look at the placement, Calatheas like to be warm but don’t put them on top of a radiator as this can dry out soil. Are they near a draught? If so then move them. Are they under direct sunlight? Move them to a more shaded spot.
If you can’t save the entire plant then have a look and see if it’s possible to do some separation and take a smaller part of the plant away that might stand a greater chance of survival on its own.
Do Calathea Like To Be Root Bound?
Root bound Calathea can produce stunted growth. For best root care try to repot your plant once a year (more or less if the plant requires it).
You can also look at the bottom of the pot to see if there are any roots coming out of the drainage holes. If this is the case then you definitely need to think about doing some repotting.
Will Calathea Leaves Uncurl?
The leaves on your Calathea may uncurl, it depends how significant the damage done to them is. The main causes of leaf curling is underwatering and intense light. Try to treat the issue before it becomes serious by watering your plant when its dry and moving it away from strong light sources. If you notice the leaves starting to curl then get on top of it before they’re clasped in on themselves as underwatering and direct sunlight can kill a Calathea if left too long.
How Big Do Calathea Grow?
Under the right growing conditions a Calathea can get pretty big relatively quickly. For some species you’re looking at a 2 foot high plant. (Other species may be a big smaller but if your plant if receiving the right type of cultivation then you might notice it growing more quickly than you were expecting.
By caring for Calathea in the right way and giving them the attention they deserve, Calathea plants will grow to around 2 feet high. They aren’t big plants but their lush foliage will can spread as wide as the plant is tall.
Debbie Leslie says
I believe I have a problem with watering. I used miracle grow potting mix only in the pot and when I water it flows right out. As such I would water every other day. Am I watering too much? I live in the Caribbean where the weather is hot. I have 3 types of calathea but the medallion is not doing well. The leaves are curling and drying around the edges. Please advise.
Hi Debbie, watering every other day seems like a lot but I live in a cooler region so it’s hard to imagine Caribbean heat. Do you test the moisture level in the soil before rewatering? Is it dry? Moist? Completely wet? When I water my Calathea I water them so that the water flows right out the bottom but the soil tends to stay moist enough that I don’t need to rewater for five days to a week.
Also if you test the soil for moisture how are your doing this? Are you sticking your finger in the soil? Or using a moisture stick? How deep are you checking?
hi..hope everything is well..i am just a beginner in growing Calathea Makonya..and i want to be successful on this. 🤞 i just want to ask if would it be fine to put the plants in the bathroom to meet the humidity requirements then move them again near the window in the morning to get light? So basically they are being moved twice a day in two places..will this process help my plants to thrive? ..thank you in advance for your advice..
Hi Khaye, if you find your plant is doing well then this could be a method for you as they’re getting light and humidity but I find my plants prefer to stay in one place and don’t like to be moved too much. So if you’re going to do this definitely keep an eye on your plant.