How to make your Calathea happy

Calatheas are beautiful plants of great ornamental value. Due to the spectacular arrangement and shape of their beautiful foliage, they are often compared to the peacock's tail. They are also known as "praying plants" due to the uniqueness of their leaves folding up at night and unfolding again harmoniously in daylight.

However, to keep their striking appearance intact, these plants need a lot of pampering and care. In this practical guide to Calathea care, you will find all the information you need to keep them looking stunningly beautiful and healthy at all times.

Calatheas: description, cultivation and care

Calatheas are tropical plants belonging to the Marantas family. Their most distinctive feature is their beautiful foliage. The different varieties of this species come in different sizes, shapes and shades, each one more spectacular than the last.

The leaves of the calathea are distributed perpendicularly along the stem. Their flowers, with a few exceptions, are usually whitish or yellowish in colour and have little ornamental value.

These evergreen plants are highly valued as indoor plants. They are not usually used outdoors in our territories, as their leaves are not very resistant to low temperatures.

The first requirement for growing and caring for a Calathea is patience, as it grows very slowly and needs a lot of care and attention.

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How to grow Calatheas

  • Location

Like all tropical species, Calatheas require constant warmth and humidity. If the environment where it is placed is too dry, a humidifier should be used to maintain the humidity.

  • Soil

The soil should be well drained and rich in humus. The right proportions would be one part peat, one part fibrous soil and one part sand. You can also buy a ready-made mix.

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  • Light

Due to their tropical origin, Calatheas do not tolerate direct light. Ideally, they should be placed in a place with filtered light so that the leaves do not burn.

  • Temperature

Maximum and minimum temperatures should be between 16 and 21 degrees. During the winter season, a minimum temperature of around 13 degrees and a maximum of 16 degrees is ideal. Below 10 degrees, the plant will succumb.

And something very important: never place it near cookers, fireplaces or any other direct source of heat.

In hot climates, you can increase the humidity by spraying the plant with a misting device.

When to plant Calatheas

The best time to do this is in early spring. The process to follow is as follows:

  • Choose a pot between 10 and 20 cm in diameter, (depending on the type of plant) with a hole in the bottom to facilitate the drainage of excess water.
  • Add a layer of clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage.
  • Prepare the soil mix and fill half of the pot with it.
  • Place the plant in the centre of the pot, with the roots well spread out.
  • Fill in the remaining part of the soil.
  • Flatten the soil a little with your hands and water. To prevent the plant from rotting, remember to drain the water from the pot plate

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General care

  • Watering

During the growing season, the plant should be watered often. The root ball should be constantly moist.

In the rest periods, watering should be spaced out. Allow the soil to dry out by about 1 cm before watering again.

To avoid staining the leaves of the plant, it is best to water with rainwater or non-calcareous water.

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  • Fertiliser

During the spring and summer months, add a dose of liquid fertiliser to the irrigation water every 15 days or so.

Clean the leaves regularly to prevent dust from accumulating on them. You can also use a feather duster or even a damp sponge if dust particles are stuck to the leaves.

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  • Transplanting

Once a year, the plant should be repotted into a larger pot as it quickly consumes nutrients from the substrate. The ideal time to do this is early summer.

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  • Pruning

Pruning is not necessary. Simply remove withered leaves.

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  • Pests and diseases

Calathea is fairly resistant to pests and diseases. However, the ubiquitous mealy bugs and spider mites are a constant threat. To prevent their appearance and spread, it is necessary to maintain a good level of humidity and use an anti-mite spray, available in specialised shops.

If the environment is too dry, the leaves of the calathea will curl up and turn yellowish and brownish. To restore their greenness, use a humidifier to cool the environment. You can also place your plant on a layer of pebbles or lumps of clay, and mist the leaves with a mist blower.

To prevent the leaves from wilting and drying out, avoid exposure to direct sunlight and add a nitrogen fertiliser to the irrigation water on a regular basis.

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  • Multiplication

Calathea is very easy to propagate. Just cut off a piece and plant the new clump. The best time to do this is during spring and summer.

The division of clumps is done in the following way:

  • Select sturdy rhizomes
  • With the help of a sharp knife, section the rhizomes, making sure that each sectioned part contains roots and leaves.
  • Unknot the roots until they are well spread out and break up the clumps of compost.
  • Plant each portion in pots about 10 cm in diameter. Fill with moist compost.
  • Cover the pots with plastic wrap and place them somewhere away from light for at least 7-10 days at a temperature of about 18º.
  • Check the humidity level regularly, otherwise the plant will dry out.
  • Once the seedlings have rooted, you can remove the plastic and take care of your new plants as explained above.
with the right care, your calatheas will not only look healthy and resplendent, but will also enhance every corner of your home for many years to come!
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About the author
Yvonne Briones

There is something that plants and content creation have in common: natural geometry. I love creating visual content and managing Be.Green campaigns.

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