Calathea

Calathea
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) and Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake calathea) are the most common 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 and adjust frequency depending on light levels provided. Allow soil to half-dry out before watering. Soil should be almost dry about 2” down. 

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

Prone to foliar fungal infections. Keep leaves dry. May get spider mites and mealybugs. Treat spider mites and mealybugs as soon as they appear with weekly sprays of horticultural (Neem) oil and regular wipe-downs of the plant.

SYMPTOM: Wilting and curling leaves coupled with dry potting mix.

CAUSE: Underwatered, thirsty plant

SYMPTOM: Leaf spots

CAUSE: Mineral build up from tap water. Switch to distilled water.

SYMPTOM: Yellowing, possible black stems, mushiness, falling apart.

CAUSE: Rot or root disease; overwatering

Precautions

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

Questions? Email help@thesill

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