House plants can seem boring and not as beautiful as a colorful garden, but for those living in apartments or small spaces, house plants can turn a sad room into a cozy place to read and chill.
They can be as colorful as any bush of roses, and no house plant will prove that more than the Calathea. Mystical, colorful, and coming in different shapes, the Calathea is sure to brighten up your space and turn your window or balcony into a mini garden full of life.
The Calathea plant
Calatheas are native to the deep, tropical forests of the Amazon and grow best in the shade. One fun fact about Calatheas is that, in the sun, their leaves will open up to receive the light; and once it starts getting darker, they close themselves. If you’re careful enough, you can even hear the rustle of the plant’s leaves closing, which is kinda cool.
There are many variations of this plant, which makes it pretty exciting for gardening lovers. Some Calatheas have round leaves, while others have wavy or elongated leaves. You can also notice patterns on the Calathea leaves, and those patterns are as versatile as the plant’s leaf shapes!
Closely related to another plant, the Maranta, Calatheas are also colorful plants that require some specific conditions to grow. After all, they are true tropical plants.
Growing and caring for Calathea
To grow beautiful and thrive, Calatheas need certain conditions, and luckily for you (and us), those conditions can be easily met. Since Calatheas are tropical plants, they need:
The perfect kind of light
Too much light, and your Calathea risks to become discolored. Not enough light, and your Calathea will never open to receive the amount of sun it needs. So, the best thing to do is to offer your plant some dappled light or put in some shade indoors. Some diffused light is the best for your Calathea to grow.
Well draining soil
True, Calatheas need water, but too much of it, and your plant’s roots will rot and die. However, if you don’t water your Calathea enough, its leaves will curl up. So, what to do? Choose a well draining soil that also retains moisture. We would recommend an African violet mix soil, which is perfect for the Calathea needs.
When potting your Calathea for the first time, make sure to water thoroughly and let the excess water drain from the bottom of the pot. And remember, your Calathea should always be kept moist, but never wet.
A high level of humidity
Since they’re tropical plants, they need a tropical weather. This doesn’t mean you should turn your house or apartment into the Amazonian rain forest though. What you can do, however, is mist your plant several times a week. During winter, when the atmosphere is driest, you can rest your Calathea pot on a shallow tray filled with gravel and water (without water touching the pot). If you see brown edges along the leaves of your Calathea, it means that your plant needs more humidity.
The right amount of fertilizer
Feed your Calathea on a regular basis by using a half strength solution of liquid fertilizer throughout the whole growing season. When winter comes, stop fertilizing.
The right temperature
Contrary to common beliefs, tropical plants don’t need a lot of heat to grow, especially Calatheas, since in the rain forest, they actually grow in the shade, under other plants. So, the best temperature for a Calathea would be between 13°C (55°F) and 21°C (70°F), which means just warm enough for your plant to grow, but not too hot, because it might die.
Re-potting every year or two years
Calatheas need to be repotted every two years, preferably during the spring season. When you’re repotting, divide your Calathea (by separating the rosettes) and plant each rosette in a different pot. Of course, use a fresh potting mix.
Some Calathea varieties
As I stated before, the Calathea has many astonishing varieties, each one as beautiful as the next. Here are some of them:
Also known as the Rattlesnake Plant (which is, let’s be real, a scary name), the Calathea Lancifolia has medium green leaves and decorative dark spots. One cool thing about it is that the underside of the leaves is actually purple, and not green like one might think when seeing this variety for the first time.
Also know as the Painted Calathea, this variety is famous for its brightly colored foliage (thus the name Painted Calathea, obviously). With its large leaves and the mix of colors it shows (green, pink, purple, and red), it is sure to brighten up your house!
The Calathea Ornata or Pin Stripe Calathea is mostly famous for its large leaves and effervescent colors. With its unique shape, it will definitely add some punch to any room or balcony.
Have you ever grown and cared for Calathea? If the answer to this question is yes, let us know about your tips in the comments!