Calathea

Learn how to care for most varieties of Calathea!

Calathea

Words by The Sill

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Learn how to care for most varieties of Calathea!

Calathea is a genus of neotropical rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants; members of which are referred to generally as Calatheas. ‘Prayer plant’ is a colloquial term that refers to members of genus Maranta, to which genus Calathea is closely-related. In reality, they’re all considered to be ‘prayer plants.’

Calathea leaves are used in the tropics (mostly Brazil) for handicraft and food wrapping. Because of the diversity of the leaf shapes, baskets are weaved with the lanceolate leaves, and food is wrapped with the wider leaves. The colorful leaf markings of most Calatheas make them economically important as houseplants, and their popularity has been growing. The Calathea veitchiana ‘Medallion’ (Medallion calathea), Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake calathea), and the Calathea ornata (Pinstripe calathea), are some of the most popular species.

Simply put, Marantaceae is nicknamed the ‘Prayer Plant’ family due to the daily movements of the plants leaves, known as nyctinasty. Various plants in this family move their leaves up at nighttime, and lower them in the daytime in accordance to a circadian rhythm. They move their leaves by changing the water pressure in their pulvini, the swollen nodes at the base of the leaf, along the leaf stalk (petiole). It is believed that these movements are meant to follow the sun’s movement in the sky in order to maximize light absorption.

General Care

 

Sunlight

Thrives in medium to bright indirect light, but can tolerate low indirect light.

Water

Water every 1-2 weeks, allowing soil to dry out half way down between waterings. Expect to water more often in brighter light and less often in lower light.

Humidity

Does better in higher humidity if possible.

Temperature

65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).

Common Problems

 

SYMPTOM: Wilting, curling leaves, dry potting mix

CAUSE: Underwatered

 

SYMPTOM: Yellowing leaves, black base

CAUSE: Overwatered

 

SYMPTOM: Leaf spots

CAUSE: Fungal infection or mineral build up from tap water. Use distilled water and water directly into surrounding potting soil. 

Precautions

This plant is pet-friendly, but the best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets.

Questions? Contact our customer happiness team here

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