How To Take Care Of Your Calathea

How To Take Care Of Your Calathea

A genus of neotropical, rhizomatous, herbaceous perennials renowned for their beautiful array of leaf colour, patterns and shape. They are a part of the ‘prayer plant’ family, Marantaceae, a nickname stemming from the daily movements of their leaves, known as nyctinasty.

Several plants in this family move their leaves up at night time and lower them during the day. They achieve this by changing the water pressure in their pulvini (swollen nodes at the base of the leaf) along the leaf stalk (petiole).

It is believed that these movements are meant to follow the sun’s movement in the sky to maximise light absorption. Due to their eye-catching stripes and veins, they are also known as zebra, peacock or rattlesnake plants!

Throughout tropical areas (especially in Brazil) the colourful Calathea leaves are used for handicrafts and food wrapping.

How much light does your Calathea need?

In their natural tropical environment, they grow on jungle floors, so they are quite adapted to dappled light. Having said this, they thrive best in medium to bright indirect light, but can also handle low indirect light. Rotate your Calathea so all sides of the plant gain a more even light.

What type of soil does your Calathea need?

A well-draining potting soil or mix is best. Add in compost, pine bark, coco coir, worm casings or perlite to provide beneficial nutrients and help maintain soil moisture. Acidic to neutral pH soil.

What temperature is best for your Calathea?

Calathea (such as our Calathea Bella ) do not like the cold, so watch their environment especially in Winter and keep out of draughts. 16-30C is best.

How much water does your Calathea need?

In Spring/Summer, water every week or so, ensuring the soil is evenly moist. Water thoroughly (not the leaves) so that all the roots receive their share, but do not over-do it, as over-watering will lead to water-logging and root-rot.

How much fertilizer does your Calathea need?

Once a month with a liquid balanced fertiliser at half strength is adequate, but not necessary during the plant’s more dormant months in Winter.

General Care Tips for your Calathea.

Calathea do not like the cold so are best grown indoors all year round as house plants. Don’t prune but any dead leaves may be cut off so that the whole plant maintains its beautiful look.

Re-potting can be done every 2 or 3 years in Spring or early Summer. Water well before re-potting and ease the rootball out of the pot, keeping the roots as intact as possible.

Use fresh potting mix in a slightly bigger pot and water thoroughly. Neem oil or insecticidal soap and the gentle wiping of leaves with a damp cloth, will keep your Calathea free of most pests, including fungal infections.

The Green Grower’s Rating is:

The beautiful colour, patterning and leaf shape of Calathea make them probably the most popular of all indoor house plant choices in New Zealand. If kept in a warm, humid environment, they will reward you and look stunning in any indoor situation and being non toxic to pets, there is little more to be said in their favour!

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