Caring For Calathea Plants
Let’s face it Calathea plants do not have the best reputation when it comes to survival in our homes. With these tips I hope to change your outlook on these beautiful plants.
So what is a Calathea you ask? Well, they are a type or genus of plants from the Marantaceae family of plants. There are more than 300 plants in the Calathea genus! These are true tropical plants native to tropical areas in South and Central America, Africa, and the West Indies.
Whenever I bring a plant into my space the first thing I consider is their natural environment, then I mimic that as best I can!
I’ve included my YouTube video on Calathea Care below!
- Filtered indirect lighting is best. For me that means placing my Calathea plants near a South East facing window, they receive that golden hour sunlight at sunrise and then filtered light throughout the day. I also have the placed low to mimic the way they would grow in the jungles.
- Soil or planting medium is important. These plants require quick draining soil. You don’t want them sitting in water or having soggy soil, this could led to root rot. I use a mixture of Black Gold potting mix, perlite, worm castings, and some orchid bark chips. Let me know if anyone is interested in me sharing my potting mix recipe!
- Speaking of water, these dudes hate and I do mean hate tap water! If you are going to use tap water I suggest letting it sit out at least 24 hours prior to use. I use distilled or rain water with my Calatheas it really helps/prevents them from getting brown spots on the beautiful foliage. I allow the soil to dry out between watering and I water them using the bottom watering method. Just means I sit them inside a bowl and allow the water to be absorbed by the roots. They do not enjoy continually moist soil.
- For feeding/fertilizing I depend on worm castings. From early Spring through late Summer I add worm casting to the top of the soil and work it in. Worm castings are a gentle, natural, organic way of feeding. Then as summer winds down I back off the feeding.
- Humidity is a must for these plants. If your home is dry these plants will not thrive, and may not survive. I keep the humidity level in my space between 50 and 60% that may be too high for some so at a minimum these and other tropical plants are going to need 35 to 40% humidity levels. I suggest a humidifier I linked 2 of my favorites (the ones I use) below as well the hydrometer I use to measure the humidity level. Another method to increase humidity is grouping your plants together. For Calathea plants I do not recommend misting, honestly it’s just not enough. They require humidity and a lot.
- Let’s talk pests, I have dealt with fungus gnats but after switching to bottom watering I haven’t had any more issues with them. Allowing the soil to dry out will also keep gnats under control. Other pests like spider mites and mealy bugs will need to be removed from the plants. I would suggest using a q-tip, or paper towel and a neem oil mixture to remove/kill these pests. For the most part these plants don’t seem to attract a lot of pests.
So there you have it, these tips have worked great for my Calathea plants and I hope you’ll try them out!