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How to Care for a Calathea Plant

If you’re looking for an unique looking, beautiful houseplant I have the perfect plant for you! The Calathea is a beautiful plant that, although can be hard to grow, it can really turn heads.

This beautiful plant is well known for not only the beautiful coloring of it’s leaves but also the fact that they move on their own in relation to the sunlight.

If you want to try to master a bit more intermediate to advance type of plant, keep reading! We’re going to cover all the Calathea care tips and tricks for growing and caring for this plant!

Calathea Plant Basics

Calathea Plant Care

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The Calathea plants are a tropical plant that is part of the Marantaceae family. This family of plants originated in the tropic parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It’s a decorative plant know for the way the leaves fold up at night giving them the common name, Prayer Plant (although not to be confused with the maranta prayer plants).

You will also find these plants called Zebra Plant, Peacock Plant, Beauty Star and Cathedral Plant among others.

There are a ton of different varieties of Calathea plants (like most plants!). Some of the most common types are:

  • Calathea veitchiana ‘Medallion’ (Medallion)
  • Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake plant)
  • Calathea concinna (Freddie)
  • Calathea ornata (Pinstripe)

The main type that you’ll see most places have beautiful dark green leaves with colorful markings. They can grow up to 3 feet tall and can be quite impressing!

One interesting thing about Calathea leaves is that they are used for things like weaving baskets and wrapping food! This is typically done in more tropical areas such as Brazil.

As you care for your plant, take note of its daily movements which is known as nyctinasty. As mentioned above, this is what gives them the nickname as a Prayer Plant.

Good news for all of you pet loving plant friends – these plants are non toxic!

Calathea Plant Basics

Calathea Orbafolia


You’ll want to water your Calathea about every 1-2 weeks but you’ll want to check them frequently. Be careful that it doesn’t get too much water though! These plants like to be moist but not over watered.

Make sure that they’re in a well draining soil and a pot with a drainage hole because these plants do not like to be sitting in water. Be sure to let them dry out in between watering them but don’t let them stay dry for too long!

One thing to note about watering these indoor plants is they prefer distilled water rather than tap water. But don’t worry about buying it! Simply leave a watering can out overnight to purify your water and neutralize it.

If your plant starts to have brown edges on its leaves it could be from the type of water you’re using. Try switching to distilled water to see if that helps.


Calathea plants prefer medium to bright indirect light to grow best. However, they can grow in low light.

These plants have sensitive leaves and too much direct sunlight can be harmful. You’ll notice a dullness in the leaves if they are getting too much sun.


You’ll want to use a potting soil that is porous and well draining for your plant. This will help prevent root rot from forming. Root rot is very dangerous to plants as this can cause them to die (more on that below!).

A well draining soil will help excess water get out of the soil. You want moist soil, not soaked soil when you water it!

Temperature and Humidity

Calathea plants are tropical plants and do their best with high humidity. These are best kept in bathrooms or near a humidifier however they can adapt to less humid spaces.

If you notice the leaves of your calathea plant beginning to curl, this could indicate that your plant is in need of more humid air. Try a humidifier or placing it on top of a pebble tray that is full of water. As the water evaporates it will add to the humidity for your plant, mimicking a humid environment.

Calathea plants ideally don’t like to live in a place that gets below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and do best under 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your plant away from any cold drafts and heat vents. If you keep your plant outside, be sure to bring it in when the temperature. drops too low or too high!


Like most plants, your calathea will benefit from a liquid fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer months). This will help encourage new growth and ensure that your plant stays healthy.

You can stop fertilizing during the winter season since your plant is dormant during that time.

Pruning & Maintenance

You can prune your calathea whenever you see the need. Occasionally, you may come across a leaf or leaves that appears to be dead or damaged, this should be dealt with immediately.

Use a pair of clean, sharp pruning shears and cut off any leaves that need to be removed. Trimming off the dead areas will allow your plant to take care of the leaves that are left instead of putting energy towards healing dying or dead leaves.

If your plant has brown edges, feel free to trim those off as they won’t ever turn green again.

Common Pests

Like with many tropical plants that like to live in a humid environment, the chance of fungus gnats is pretty high. Fungus gnats are tiny flying insects that look sort of like fruit flies that infest potting mix.

The gnat larvae like to feast on organic matter in soil, though they can also eat the roots of the plant. If these larvae are left untreated, they will eventually mature into adult fungus gnats that fly around your home.

While fungus gnats are a really annoying, thankfully they can be easily treated! Since fungus gnats spend a majority of their life in their larva stage, early action is key.

I personally spray the soil with neem oil. This is a powerful, natural pest deterrent that won’t harm your plant. If your fungus gnats have reached maturity and are flying around your plants, then they can easily be trapped by putting yellow sticky tape traps in the soil. The best time to catch them is immediately after watering your plant which is when they. most often come out of the soil.

Other common pests you may find are spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. These can be treated with insecticidal soap.

Get in the habit of wiping down your plant’s leaves with a wet rag every couple of weeks. This will you to keep pests at bay and detect any possible infestations early so you’re able to treat it.

Common Diseases

One main fungal infection that the calathea can have is root rot. This is caused by overwatering your plant which in turn ruins the roots of the plans.

While root rot is deadly, it can sometimes be remedied if you take care of it immediately. If you suspect your plant has it, follow these steps:

  1. Remove your plant from its pot and carefully get excess dirt away from the roots.
  2. Check the roots; mushy and black roots mean they’re rotted. Firm, off-white color roots mean they’re healthy roots.
  3. Take a sterile pair of shears and cut off any rotted roots you see.
  4. Repot your plant using clean, new well-draining soil in a pot that has drainage holes.

The best way to treat root rot in these plants is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Always make sure you are properly watering your plants, making sure that the soil is never overly soaked.

I always stick my finger directly in the soil to see if the soil is still wet or dried out. If it’s wet and soil sticks to your finger, wait to water it. If it’s dry and the soil doesn’t stick, it’s ok to water it.

Where to Buy Your Calathea

Calathea plant care

I hope you learned a thing or two about your new Calathea and are able to care for it in the best way!

Check out how to care for your Calathea White Fusion here!

Also check out the Zebra plant – it’s a similar looking plant with it’s striped leaves!


  • Jen

    Jen got her first plant in college from her mom and the rest, as they say, is history! She's owned hundreds of plants over the years and loves learning how to grow each one. She believes everyone needs to own at least one plant in their home and loves sharing her knowledge with others.

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