How to Care for Colorful Calathea

With their dark green leaves, maroon undersides and geometric patterns, calathea plants are striking additions to any space.

Calathea, maranta, and other marantaceae plants open and close depending on the time of day, hence their nickname: prayer plant. 

At first glance, growing them may seem like a stretch for those of us with brown thumbs or low light, but many calathea are great for new plant parents. They combine the best of both worlds with their vibrant colors and tolerance of low-light conditions. And most are non-toxic to children and pets.

As a bonus, these plants are extremely forgiving. They could lose practically all leaves and still come back in full force.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

These plants, however, demand a little more from the average plant parent. If you’re looking for a challenge, try Calathea warsewiczii, Calathea zebrine and Calathea white fusion.

To help them thrive, give calathea the right conditions. Place in an area that receives low to bright indirect light. Keep  out of direct sun since it’ll bleach the leaves. Generally, the darker the foliage, the less light these plants need.

Calathea like humid environments, so surround them with other plants or place their pot over a tray of pebbles with some water. If your calathea’s leaf tips are browning, chances are plants need more humidity. Calathea enjoy moist soil—but not wet soil, so check every few days and water generously, draining excess water. Mist soil occasionally to increase moisture, but be sure not to directly mist leaves.

Calathea can be fussy about the kind of water they drink. They prefer filtered or dechlorinated water. If only the tips of leaves are brown, this is a sign your water may contain too many minerals or chemicals. Fill your watering can the night before and leave it out to dissipate the chlorine or try using filtered water instead.

Use Espoma’s organic potting soil when it’s time to repot your calathea.

In the event your calathea is not looking so hot, cut the leaves off to the bottom of the stem to encourage new growth. These plants are good at making a comeback and grow quickly. Feed plants regularly with Espoma’s liquid Indoor! fertilizer to promote new growth.

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Espoma Products for Coloful Calathea