Calathea Plants: Prayer Plant Care

Calathea plants are easy-to-grow tropical houseplants. They can be used to add a decorative touch to your home or office.

Calathea plants are among the most attractive types of houseplants because of their beautiful foliage patterns and shades.

Many beginners grow Calatheas in their indoor gardens because they are so low-maintenance.

These varieties are easily obtained from a local garden store, but one must exercise caution when selecting the appropriate species due to the large number of Calathea varieties.

In this article, we’ll talk about what Calathea plants are like, how to care for them, and what problems you might have when growing these plants.


For more information on other houseplants, go to our main Houseplant page.


What is a Calathea Plant?

Calathea plants are tropical, easy-to-grow houseplants known for their colorful, comprehensive, green leaves.

They can be used as a decorative accent in your home or office.

These larger leaves allow them to produce more food. As a result, they do well in low light conditions.

Calathea plants are classified as members of the Marantaceae family, which includes many well-known tropical flowering plants.

Calathea is a tropical plant with over 300 different species. They grow primarily on the forest floor of tropical rainforests.

That being said, the indoor environment is ideal for growing these tropical plants. Calathea houseplants have lovely patterns on their foliage.

What Is A Calathea Plant

Calathea plants have earned a variety of names due to their appealing patterns and color variations, including zebra plants, rattlesnake plants, cathedral window plants, and peacock plants.

Calathea is commonly referred to as a “Prayer Plant” because it is related to Maranta plants, which are also referred to as “Prayer Plants.”

Although many characteristics of Calathea and Maranta plants are similar, there is one significant difference that distinguishes them.

Maranta plants typically close their leaves at night, whereas Calathea plants’ leaves remain open.

One example is the Calathea ‘Beauty Star’, which will add a tropical vibe to your indoor garden. The colorful undersides of the leaves will also add visual interest.

Another fascinating fact about Calathea plants is that their leaves constantly move in order to capture the most sunlight possible throughout the day.

These indoor plants have a distinctive movement known as nyctinasty.

Although there are around 300 different species of Calathea, we would like to mention the most attractive varieties that people mainly grow in their indoor gardens.

Some of the most beautiful and popular Calathea varieties are:

  • Calathea crocata
  • Calathea zebrina
  • Calathea lancifolia
  • Calathea medaillo
  • Calathea orbifolia
  • Calathea ornata
  • Calathea roseopicta dottie
  • Calathea makoyana

Read further for a list of the most common types of Calathea plants.

How to Care for Calathea Plants

By observing the prayer plants in their natural environment, we can learn about their basic needs.

Calatheas prefer a tropical environment with high humidity, low light, moist soil, and a warm temperature, which is why they grow primarily in tropical rainforests.

In this section, we’ll look at their basic requirements and how they can help Calathea plant growers.

Light

Light For Calathea Plant

Calathea plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Although they can thrive in low light, direct light for a few hours will help them keep their foliage patterns and colors.

Remember that prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can diminish the beauty of the leaves because the color fades.

As a result, we recommend keeping them near the east-facing window. It will provide direct sunlight to the prayer plants for a few hours.

Check the leaves frequently while growing them because intense light is responsible for burning the foliage.

When light levels get brighter, the process of photosynthetic carbon fixing gets faster, but when there is too much light, it makes the process less efficient [1].

Temperature and Humidity Levels

Temperature And Humidity Levels Of Calathea

Calatheas, like other tropical plants, prefer warm temperatures.

You don’t have to be concerned about the temperature if you live in a tropical region. They are fine with the average room temperature.

Temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for growing them.

The plants may be harmed if the temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit or rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The curling of the leaves is the first sign. Avoid cold drafts on Calathea plants, and keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum.

Calatheas thrive in conditions of high humidity. They, like many tropical plants, absorb moisture from the air.

Keep in mind that higher humidity can promote plant growth. You don’t have to be concerned about the humidity if you have an indoor tropical garden.

Otherwise, a humidifier should be used to raise the humidity level.

We recommend putting these cathedral plants in the kitchen or bathroom. You can also mist the leaves to increase humidity.

If you don’t provide enough humidity, the leaves will turn brown.

Howt to water calathea plants

How To Water Calathea Plants

When there is insufficient water in the soil, plant growth naturally slows. Calathea plants require a lot of water because they are tropical.

If you’re growing them in a container, make sure to water them frequently and keep the soil moist.

If you grow them outside, water them every two to three days, depending on the temperature.

Although the Calathea plant is thirsty, it can tolerate a dry spell for a few days. Keep in mind that the soil must be well-drained.

While watering these plants, keep in mind that tap water can be hazardous due to the presence of various compounds and minerals, particularly fluoride.

Too much salt in the water can cause the leaf edges to brown. As a result, it may be best to water the plants with filtered or distilled water.

We recommend that you collect and use rainwater. Watering Calathea plants should be done on a regular basis.

Because these plants are not drought tolerant, you must exercise caution when developing a schedule. They will perish if you do not properly water them.

What has helped us in watering our houseplants is to get self-watering pots that have drainage holes. This self-watering container is what we use for our houseplants.

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Fertilizer

Fertilizer is required for Calathea plants to grow and bloom. Because they are flowering plants, you must use fertilizer during the flowering season.

Although regular houseplant fertilizer is appropriate for them, half-strength liquid fertilizer is thought to be a better choice for these plants.

During the growing season, we recommend using organic fertilizers such as fishbone, meat bone, blood meal, and worm castings.

These fertilizers slowly release essential minerals, ensuring a long-term nutrient supplement. Maintain soil moisture after fertilizing to encourage dissolution.

Slow-release fertilizer is what we suggest. This slow-release fertilizer is super easy to use, and you don’t need to worry about it once you set it in the soil.

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Propagation and Repotting

Propagation And Repotting Calathea

Calatheas must be propagated in the spring and summer. As your plant grows, you may notice clumps on the mother plant’s side.

Gently separate their roots and replant the baby plant in a new location. When cutting, make sure to use a sharp, sterile knife.

Pruning the old and yellow leaves of Calathea plants will enhance their beauty.

When repotting Calatheas, use a standard pot. Calatheas should be repotted as they grow.

Otherwise, they are at risk of root rot. The pot should be 1-2 inches larger than the previous one.

If you’re looking for a pair of garden shears, we suggest these pruning shears. They are not expensive and they always come in handy. Just make sure to clean them after you use them on every plant.

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Common Problems with Calathea Plants

Common Problems With Calathea Plants

When people notice a few problems while growing Calatheas, they often become concerned.

This section will go over the most fundamental and common issues that people have with Calathea plants.

Fading Leaf Colors

It means your Calathea plant is getting too much direct sunlight. If it continues, the leaves may be burned. Make sure the plant is getting medium-to-bright indirect light.

Brown and curly leaves

If you notice that the beautiful Calathea leaves are curling up, this is a sign that your soil is too dry and the plant is thirsty.

Keep in mind that it is not a drought-resistant indoor plant. When there is less humidity, this problem is more common.

If you notice this problem even when the soil is moist, you should raise the humidity level in your environment. You could do this with a pebble tray.

Brown tips and edges

If you notice brown edges on the leaves or the tips of the leaves turning brown, you must immediately change the water.

The presence of brown edges indicates that the water quality is poor. 

Slow growth

Although Calatheas grow slowly, they stop growing once they reach their maximum height.

If you don’t fertilize them properly, their growth rate will be even slower. You should fertilize them if you notice leggy growth.

Dusty leaves

If you notice dust on the striking leaves of Calathea plants, clean them with lukewarm water. 

A few pests can damage the leaves if these common symptoms are not present. Mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids, for example, can be lethal.

Kill any of them as soon as you notice them. Insecticides should be used to kill these insects.

FAQ

Where should I place my Calathea plant?

Calathes may be grown in any room, just as long as you place your prayer plant in an area of the room that gets indirect light ranging from low to bright. The darker the foliage, the lower the light requirements. A good place would be an east-facing window behind a sheer drape covering the window. If the air is dry, add a humidifier to your room to maintain the proper humidity level, and keep the plant away from cold breezes. Also, keep the plant away from the heater and air conditioner, since these might be harmful.

Is Calathea a good indoor plant?

Yes, Calathea plants make great indoor plants. They are popular for homes and offices because they are simple to care for and look wonderful, providing brilliant green plants to brighten up any indoor area. In addition, they are low-light plants that have wide leaves that absorb and use as much light as is available.

Is Calathea poisonous?

Calathea plants are non-toxic to kids and animals such as cats and dogs, making them great houseplants to grow indoors. 

Is Calathea suitable for beginners?

Calathea plants are excellent for beginning gardeners. They are quite simple to care for. Simply make sure that your Calathea enjoys moist soil, 8 to 10 hours of bright indirect light every day, and a consistently warm location. Calathea prefers damp soil or planting materials that are not waterlogged. When watering a Calathea plant, do not overwater it to the point that the plant sits in standing water. Calatheas thrive in medium-indirect sunshine, although they may also survive lower light levels. Bright, direct sunlight can diminish the beautiful colors on their leaves, and prolonged exposure can burn and sear them.

How often should you water a Calathea?

Calatheas benefit from weekly waterings that leave the top 2 inches of soil to partially dry out. Watering less often in the winter is recommended to avoid overwatering and root damage. This plant is not drought-resistant, and prolonged periods of drought will cause the leaf tips to brown.

Conclusion

Calathea plants are popular indoor plants that thrive with proper care. These plants are grown primarily for their eye-catching patterns and colors.

Calathea plants come in a variety of varieties, all of which are non-poisonous to kids and pets.

They will thrive if you provide them with adequate light, water, fertilizer, and a well-draining potting mix.

If they get dusty, Calathea leaves should be cleaned once a month with a damp cloth.

References

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  • [1] Powles, S.B. (1984). Photoinhibition of photosynthesis induced by visible light. Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 35: 15-44. URL: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.pp.35.060184.000311
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (n.d.). Calathea. Pet Care Animal Poison Control Toxic and Non-toxic Plants, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). URL: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/calathea
  • Henley, R.W., Chase, A.R., & Osborne, L.S. (1991). Calathea Production Guide. Research Note RH-91-9, University of Florida, IFAS, Central Florida Research and Education Center. URL: https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/foliage/folnotes/calathea.htm
  • TTU Plant Resources. (n.d.). Calathea, Zebra Plant. Plant Resources, Texas Tech University. URL: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/plantresources/Pages/Landscape_Information_Sheets/Interiors_Info/Calathea_sp.php
  • About/mentions: Calathea, houseplant, houseplant care

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