Make a Statement with this Tropical Houseplant
Different Forms of Calathea
Calatheas are considered to be some of the most beautiful and interesting tropical houseplants in the world. Calatheas generally are used as houseplants in cooler climates and are revered for their bold upright, oblong leaves which are produced in a stunning array of colors. Because of the plant's unusual markings, it goes by common names such as zebra plant, peacock plant, and rattlesnake plant. It is closely related to the similar Maranta or prayer plant. Calathea is native to the tropical regions of eastern Brazil. In addition to their showy leaves, the plant produces small flowers in clusters on short stems. As most true tropical plants are, they are somewhat fussy about their conditions, but a well-grown specimen is worth the effort.
Some of our favorite Calatheas are listed below, these are easy to grow and very interesting due to the various leaf patterns.
Calathea makoyana or peacock plant has arching leaves that look similar to stained glass windows. Its colors are typically a variation of white and light green.
Calathea Medallion is a gorgeous houseplant that looks like it’s painted. It has more rounded leaves giving it more of a medallion look. It does best in bright indirect light and likes to dry out a little between watering.
Rattlesnake plant produces long strap-like, spotted leaves and deep purple undersides. This is our Favorite Calathea and the easiest to grow by far.
Dark green and rose painted Calathea has round leaves with an underside of a maroon color. It has an elliptic leaf with hotpink accents and stems. It does especially well in low light areas.
This list is a good place to pick from when you’re just starting out your Calathea collection. Be warned though these plants are very addicting and before you know it Calathea will outnumber all of your other houseplants combined. For those of you with pets, you can also rest assured that Calathea has been listed as non-toxic and safe for cats and dogs by the ASPCA.
Calathea Preferred Growing Conditions
Calathea has always had a reputation as greenhouse plants. They are sensitive to cold, drafts, and sudden temperature fluctuations. They grow best in warm, humid, and bright conditions. Calathea typically grows in the understory of the dense rainforests and rarely does well in direct sunlight. Bright sunlight tends to wash the color out of the leaves and therefore they should not be placed directly in a bright sunny window. We recommend keeping a spray bottle nearby as calathea will thank you for occasional sprits of clean water. In addition, you could place the plant in a saucer with a thin layer of gravel which will raise the humidity level of the air surrounding the plants.
The preferred growing medium should consist of a light, porous potting mix that retains water but does not stay soaking wet. Calathea prefers that their soil is kept continuously moist throughout the spring and summer and early fall months, and you should decrease watering in the winter.
The humid, wet conditions that Calathea prefers can encourage bacterial and fungal diseases, which show as leaf lesions. Not allowing your plants to sit in water will help avoid this. Calathea, are perfect for terrariums due to their need for high humidity. The plant should also be fed regularly with liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season.
Calathea growth varies by the type of calathea plant you have in your home or business. Calatheas tend to grow slowly but are well worth the wait. In fact, calathea plants will usually only grow to about 2 feet tall and then stop. Calatheas are like goldfish in that they tend to regulate their size by their surroundings. A calathea in a 6 inch pot will stay smaller than a calathea potted up into a 10 inch pot. Generally, the only pruning you will ever need to do is the removal of the occasional yellow leaf that may occur.
Until Next time, see you among the Calathea.