Calathea plants, grown for their beautiful foliage, have been adorning homes for decades. With flashes of bright colors such as neon green, deep purples, bright pinks and more, their striking leaves would certainly grab attention. They get the nickname, prayer plant, from the prayer-like movement of their leaves throughout the day.
LIGHT: Calatheas will thrive in a medium to bright indirect or filtered light. Do not place in harsh, direct sunlight. If your calathea receives too much sunlight, the leaves may begin to cup, fade or burn. Calatheas can tolerate low light better than most houseplants, but may not have as vibrant of color.
HUMIDITY: Prefers a slightly higher level of humidity than is found in most homes. Using a humidifier or placing your plant over a tray filled with pebbles and water (don’t let the water touch the pot) will help increase the level of humidity around your plant. If you decide to mist your plant, mist from the bottom up. Misting too frequently can encourage fungus growth.
WATERING: Watering a calathea can be tricky, as it demands that the soil stay consistently moist, without being soggy or wet. Water when the top soil is dry. Bottom soaking calatheas is a good way to ensure the plant is getting only the water it needs. Just be sure to not let the plant sit in water for extended periods of time. If you notice brittle dry spots on the leaves, your calathea likely needs more water. Alternatively, if you notice yellow or wilted leaves at the base of your plant, allow the plant to dry out longer in between waterings, and use less water.
PROPAGATION: Calatheas can be propagated by division. Spring is the best time to separate calatheas. Gently remove the soil around the roots and divide at the natural separations and plant in a well-draining peat-based mix.
Feed monthly in the spring, summer and fall with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/4 the recommended strength. You can also use a gentle fertilizer like fish emulsion or Superthrive.
Calatheas are sensitive to salts, like fluoride, in tap water. Too many salts will cause the edges and tips of the leaves to turn brown. To avoid this, you can flush the soil periodically with distilled water to remove excess salts, or water your plant with purified or filtered water.
Only repot once the plant has started to outgrow its current pot. Choose a pot that is only slightly larger than its current pot to avoid adding extra stress on your plant. Too large of a pot can also increase the risk of overwatering.
Plant using a light, porous indoor potting soil that retains water but still drains quickly. African violet soil works well.
Calatheas are nontoxic to most animals.
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