Part of a family of plants known as Marantaceae, Calatheas are well known for their broad, green, colourful leaves. It is the same broad leaves that help them absorb more sunlight, hence their preference to be indoors, or a shaded space where there is low light.
There are a number of species of calathea plants we are familiar with:
- Calathea lancifolia
- Calathea ornata
- Calathea roseopicta
- Calathea rufibarba
- Calathea makoyana
- Calathea orbifolia
Calathea plants are also known commonly as cathedral plants, peacock plants, zebra plants, rattlesnake plants and prayer plants; The latter because their beautiful leaves open in the day time to catch sunlight and close up at night — as if in prayer — to channel water from the air into their stems.
How to care for your Calatheas
These beautiful plants are fairly easy to care for. The key with every plant is water, soil & light. Make sure you have well draining soil so that it doesn’t sit with soggy roots.
Indirect light – Calathea plants need bright, but not direct, sunlight to grow. This is because they grow on the floor of jungles and forests where they get limited light through the tops of the trees. In fact, direct sunlight will burn the leaves of a Calathea plant and cause it to lose its vibrant colors. South or South East facing windows are good, if not make sure they get filtered light or are some distance away from your window.
Limited water – Calathea like to have moist soil or planting substances, but not soggy. They do not want lots of water, as it can drown them. When you water a Calathea plant, do not water it so much that the plant ends up sitting in standing water — always make sure your water drains out from the bottom, then remove the pot from the excess water.
Humidity – Calathea, again due to where they grow naturally, tend to prefer humid areas. They can absorb moisture through the air via the wide, green, leaves that are common for the plant.
Fertilizer – Calathea do not need a lot of fertilizing, but they will flower and do well with standard houseplant fertilizer during spring, summer and fall. They especially need fertilization during periods of growth and flowering.
Pruning – The great news about the Calathea is that it doesn’t need pruning other than the removal of brown or yellow leaves.
As always, under watering is better than overwatering. Stick your finger or a satay stick into the soil, and if it’s dry when you pull it out, it’s time to water.
One last thing... Every plant is different and unique and you’ll learn their little individual quirks. These tips are really a guideline for you, so do take some time to figure out what your plant likes. Group like-minded plants together so you tend to them at the same time ;)
Check out some of the Calatheas we’ve picked out this week for you!