Calatheas are beautiful houseplants that come in various colors, patterns, and sizes. They are known for their unique leaves that fold up at night and open in the morning. Calatheas are relatively easy to care for, but they do have specific needs that must be met to keep them healthy and thriving. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to grow and care for Calathea plants.
Understanding Calathea Plants
What is a Calathea Plant?
Calathea is a genus of tropical plants that are native to South America, Asia, and Africa. They belong to the Marantaceae family and are closely related to the prayer plant. Calathea plants are grown for their beautiful foliage, which comes in various colors, patterns, and shapes. They can be grown as houseplants or in a tropical garden setting.
Types of Calathea Plants
There are over 300 species of Calathea plants, but some of the most popular ones include:
- Calathea orbifolia: has large, round leaves with silver stripes
- Calathea lancifolia: has long, lance-shaped leaves with dark green stripes
- Calathea roseopicta: has dark green leaves with pink stripes
- Calathea medallion: has round leaves with green and purple markings
Common Features of Calathea Plants
Calathea plants are known for their unique leaves that move throughout the day. During the day, the leaves are open and horizontal, while at night, they fold up vertically. This movement is due to a process called nyctinasty, which is triggered by changes in light and temperature. Calathea plants also produce small, white flowers that are non-showy and typically not grown for their blooms.
How to Care for Calathea Plants
Calathea plants prefer bright, indirect light, but they can also tolerate low light conditions. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, so it’s best to keep them away from windows that receive direct sunlight. If your Calathea plant is not getting enough light, its leaves may start to curl or turn yellow.
Calathea plants like to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. The soil should be kept slightly damp, but not soggy. It’s important to water your Calathea plant with filtered or distilled water, as they are sensitive to the chemicals found in tap water. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely, as this can cause the leaves to droop and wilt.
Calathea plants prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. A mixture of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite is ideal for Calathea plants. Avoid using heavy soils that can retain too much moisture, as this can lead to root rot.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
Calathea plants prefer temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). They do not tolerate cold drafts or temperatures below 60°F (15°C). Additionally, Calathea plants prefer high humidity levels between 60-70%. If the air in your home is too dry, you can increase humidity by placing a humidifier near your plant or by placing a tray of water near the plant.
Calathea plants should be fertilized every 2-3 months during the growing season (spring and summer). A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can be used at half strength. Avoid over-fertilizing your Calathea plant, as this can cause salt buildup in the soil, leading to leaf burn and other issues.
Calathea plants should be repotted every 1-2 years, or when the roots outgrow the pot. When repotting, choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one and use fresh potting soil. It’s important to be gentle when handling the roots, as they can be fragile and easily damaged.
Common Problems with Calathea Plants and How to Fix Them
Browning or Yellowing Leaves
Browning or yellowing leaves can be caused by overwatering, underwatering, or exposure to direct sunlight. To fix this issue, adjust your watering schedule and move your plant to a location with better lighting.
Curling leaves can be caused by low humidity or over-fertilization. To fix this issue, increase humidity levels and adjust your fertilizing schedule.
Drooping leaves can be caused by overwatering or underwatering. To fix this issue, adjust your watering schedule and ensure that your plant is not sitting in water.
Pests and Diseases
Calathea plants are susceptible to pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. They can also be affected by fungal diseases such as root rot and leaf spot. To prevent these issues, ensure that your plant is in good health and avoid overwatering. If your plant does become infested, treat it with an insecticide or fungicide.
Calathea plants are beautiful and unique houseplants that require specific care to thrive. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your Calathea plant remains healthy and vibrant for years to come.
Can Calathea plants be grown outdoors?
- Calathea plants are tropical plants and are best grown indoors or in a greenhouse setting.
Can Calathea plants be propagated?
- Yes, Calathea plants can be propagated through division. Simply divide the plant at the roots and pot each division separately.
How often should I fertilize my Calathea plant?
- Calathea plants should be fertilized every 2-3 months during the growing season (spring and summer).
What should I do if my Calathea plant gets too large for its pot?
- If your Calathea plant outgrows its pot, it should be repotted into a larger container.
How often should I water my Calathea plant?
- Calathea plants should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. This can vary depending on environmental conditions, but typically, Calathea plants should be watered once or twice a week.