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How to Care for a Calathea

How to Care for a Calathea

Calathea is a plant genus belonging to the prayer plant family, Marantaceae. They are neotropical herbaceous perennial plants made popular by their patterned foliage and leaf movements. Calathea is pet-friendly and people who share a place with pets can pick this plant without any doubts. The common name of prayer plant comes from their routine plant movements scientifically known as nyctinasty. Most of the plants in this family at night keep their leaves up and at daytime, they lower them back according to the circadian rhythms. They can move the leaves by a process in which they alter the water pressure in the pulvini. Pulvini is the swollen node of the plant present at the base of the leaf and along the leaf petiole or stalk. Calathea plants are thought to make these movements following the sun's movement to increase light absorption.

Light requirement

Calathea plants grow well in moderate to bright indirect sunlight. They can also bear low sunlight. If your home has less light exposure, this plant is an excellent choice for you. Never put these plants in direct sunlight, as that can lead to bleaching the leaves. Rest your calathea plant in a room that has access to low to bright indirect sunlight. Plants that have dark foliage like calathea ornata require low light.

Water needs of Calathea plants

Water your plant once every 1-2 weeks and let the topsoil dry out at least halfway before watering it again. Increase watering your plant when placed in bright light and reduce it when placed in low light. Like every houseplant, Calathea also prefers dechlorinated or filtered water, but it can be a bit more demanding to watering needs than other houseplants. If your water contains an increased quantity of chlorine, don't use it to water your calathea with it. Fill a can of water and let it stand overnight. It will dissipate the available chlorine. Then you can use it to water your plant. If your tap water contains more chemical substances other than chlorine, try to utilise distilled or filtered water for your plant.

Potting medium

Calathea likes damp soil but not an excessively wet medium. You need to use a well-draining potting medium for your calathea. Try using a potting mix containing 50% potting soil, 20% charcoal, 20% orchid bark, and 10% perlite. These plants also dislike dried dirt. After every 3-4 days, touch the soil by putting your finger in and check if the potting medium is dry. If it is dried out, water your plant and ensure that excessive water is draining correctly.

Humidity

Calathea thrives better in higher humidity. Consider applying a fine mist or use a humidifier to enhance the humidity level in your home.

Temperature

Most Calatheas like to dwell in a temperature ranging between 65°F-85°F range (18°C-30°C). It will be suitable for the plant if the temperature remains above 60°F (15°C). 

Common Problems

The Calathea plant is generally safe to grow indoors and are mostly pest-free. If you notice any pest on your plant, immediately treat it. You can spray weekly with neem oil and clean the plant gently. If leaf spots appear on your calathea plant, it could be a possible cause of fungal infection or excessive minerals from tap water. Use distilled or filtered water directly into the potting soil. These plants are known to be super moody, but if you're after a Calathea that is really strong and stays healthy, go for a Calathea makoyana!

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