All about a Calathea
Calathea is one of the most famous indoor plants globally. The leaves are a rich color of green and wide-shaped with white or purple stripes in the middle. The best part about the leaves is that the underside is either maroon or purple, making it an extremely aesthetic plant to have as an interior decoration.
The maximum height this plant will grow is around 80 centimeters (cm) tall; therefore, you don't have to worry about it spreading all around and giving a messy look.
The most common nickname they have is the prayer plant. The nickname exists because the leaves of this plant curl upwards at nighttime as if they're praying to face the sky. During the day, the leaves move back to their normal position. This is called the circadian rhythm.
Different types of Calathea
There are many different varieties of a Calathea plant, but there are a few which are the most coveted as houseplants.
Origin of a Calathea
Calathea originates from Brazil, a tropical region. Over there, people use the leaves of the plant to make baskets and a way to wrap food.
How to (generally) take care of the Calathea
Like most houseplants, this particular plant doesn't require a lot of watering. You can wait till at least half of the soil in the pot has dried out before watering it. Make sure you don't overwater the plant, as waterlogging causes the root to rot.
Try giving them warm water instead of cold, as they're used to warmer temperatures. Reduce the watering during winter as they can store water for a while.
As they originate from under the trees in rainforests, the Calathea plants don't enjoy direct sunlight. They prefer bright but indirect sunlight as direct sunlight burns and scorches their leaves. Worst of all, direct sun will make the vibrant leaves go dull.
Temperature: Even though the plant won't necessarily die in colder temperatures, try not to expose it to temperatures lower than 15°C. The ideal temperature is typically more than 20°C. Moreover, they prefer the atmosphere to be as humid as possible.
Humidity: There are quite a few ways to increase humidity in the environment. You can plug a humidifier nearby or mist the area around the plant with a water spray regularly. However, these methods can be either expensive or time-consuming. The best way to create humidity is to create a gravel or pebble tray.
How to create a gravel/pebble tray?
Place a tray filled with gravel or pebbles where you want to keep your plant. Fill the tray with water until only the top layer of the gravel or pebbles are dry. Place the plant on top. This will create a constant source of humidity for the plant and other plants surrounding it.
Normally, Calathea doesn't require fertilization, but if you want to give your plant an additional boost, go ahead! Make sure to use organic fertilizer, diluted to half its strength every month or so. Don't fertilize during the winter months as the plant becomes dormant.
They're non toxic for humans and pets, making them the perfect choice as an indoor plant.
If you feel the leaves have gathered dust, wipe the leaves gently with a damp cloth. You can even remove yellow leaves to keep the plant looking fresh and healthy. The best part about this plant is the resilience. You can immediately fix the browning or curling of the leaves by increasing the water.
To provide all sides with appropriate exposure to light, as plants are usually kept against a wall, you can rotate the plant every few days so that the growth all around is even. You can repot your plant every year or two. Make sure to choose a pot that is only a couple of inches bigger than the previous pot and not more.
If you choose not to change the pot, you can just change the current pot's soil. This way, while the plant is out, you can prune away the roots to make them stronger and healthier. Sometimes, spots will appear on leaves, which means the plant has a fungal infection. You can start watering the plant using filtered water instead of hard water and pour the water into the soil instead of the stems.
Propagating a Calathea plant
If you feel your plant has enough roots and is healthy, then only you can consider propagation. Gently take the plant out and divide from the roots. You can either separate the clumps or slice the roots clean. Make sure the clump you're potting in a new container has roots as well as stems attached to it.
After planting the new pot, give it the care you've been giving to the original plant. For better results, propagate the plant during growing seasons such as spring or summer, during a warmer climate.