Calathea – Cultivation, Varieties, and Tips for Maintenance
Calathea is a beautiful plant of great ornamental value. Due to the spectacular nature, 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 that their leaves fold at night and unfold again harmoniously with daylight.
However, to keep their striking appearance intact, these plants require a lot of loving care. In this practical guide on the care of the Calathea, you will find all the information you need to keep them always impressively beautiful and healthy as well as other interesting facts and tips.
Calatheas: description, cultivation, and care
Calatheas are tropical plants belonging to the Marantas family. Its most distinctive feature lies in its beautiful foliage. The different varieties of this species adopt different sizes, shapes, and shades, each one more spectacular.
Calathea leaves are distributed perpendicularly along the stem. The flowering process, with some exceptions, is usually whitish or yellowish and has little ornamental value.
These evergreen plants are highly prized as houseplants. In some territories, they are not usually used outdoors since their leaves do not resist low temperatures.
The first requirement to cultivate and care for a Calathea is to have patience since it grows very slowly and also needs a lot of care and attention.
There are many Calathea varieties you can use for your home décor. This is not the best decorative plant, however, it makes the home cozier. There are around 12 types of Calathea plants for interiors. Below are some of the most popular Calathea species. These are the most commonly used because of their low maintenance and because they are easy to cultivate.
The Calathea roseopicta needs light exposure but always avoiding direct sunlight. The temperature should not drop below 16 ºC and drafts are not suitable for it.
Variety with wonderful large oval leaves, with striations in ash tones and tending to red on the underside.
This is a very lovely variety with deep green leaves flecked with gray and purple highlights and produces showy orange-yellow flowers enclosed within bracts.
Stemless plant 40-50 cm tall, oval-lanceolate leaves 10-12 cm long, 3-4 cm wide, light green with elliptical dark green spots connected by a central vein.
This is a variety mainly to be cultivated in the houses, which presents leaves with long petioles, oval, long, with veins in silver and white colors that start from the main rib.
Also a Brazilian woman up to 50 cm tall. Its leaves are broadly oval, up to 20 cm long, up to 10 cm wide, the white, almost transparent upper part of the leaf is lined with dark green stripes, reddish spots and bright green veins.
It is a variety native to Brazil and cultivated in other places as an ornamental plant. This plant acquires about 80 cm in height. The leaves are of two different shades, green in stripes from the edge to the margins.
Another Calathea variety is the Calathea peacock whose foliage resembles that of a peacock. This Calathea turns purple and requires quite good maintenance in order not to wither.
Plagues and diseases
The Calathea is quite resistant to pests and diseases. In any case, it is necessary to monitor the appearance of the omnipresent mealybugs and red spiders. To prevent their appearance and spread, it is necessary to maintain a good level of humidity, and use an anti-mite spray, sold in specialized stores.
In environments that are too dry, the leaves of the Calathea will end up curling and will acquire yellowish and brown tones. To restore their greenness, use a humidifier to refresh the environment. You can also place your plant on a layer of pebbles or lumps of clay, and mist the leaves with a mist sprayer.
To prevent the leaves from wilting and drying out, avoid direct exposure to sunlight and add nitrogen fertilizer to the irrigation water on a regular basis.
Care Tips for Calathea
Taking into account that it is an ordinary plant in the undergrowth of the humid tropical forest, we can deduce that Calathea appreciates moderate light exposure, always avoiding direct sun.
Watering must be abundant during growth, without flooding the soil and, in winter, recduce it, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
When it comes to care, a Calathea plant might be a little fickle. Any issues with Calathea care stem from under or over watering, as well as the absence of the proper temperature or humidity conditions. You can have magnificent, green plants that are sure to light up the workplace and indoor areas if you water just right and keep the humidity level and indoor air temperatures precisely as well.
Calathea thrives in high-humidity environments with moderate conditions and indirect sunshine, such as the concrete counters in the kitchen, cubicle spaces and lobby areas. Calathea tends to thrive in atriums as well.
Calatheas, like other common houseplants, thrives in temperatures in 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C-30°C) range during the day and 75 to 85 degrees at night, which is comparable to its tropical native habitat. To avoid cold damage, keep the temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
It is usual to observe that the tips of the Calathea turn brown. This is because the environment is too dry. We will have to increase the environmental humidity by spraying it regularly or by placing a large plate at the base of the pot, where we will place two fingers of gravel and the pot on top of the gravel.
The excess water from the irrigation remains in the saucer and, as it evaporates, the environmental humidity around the Calathea increases and, thanks to the gravel, the earthen capellón will not remain continuously waterlogged.