Calathea Care

Calathea plants are tropical beauties that boast vibrant, patterned leaves. Caring for them properly requires understanding their preferences, as they thrive under specific conditions that mimic their natural rainforest habitat. To help your Calathea flourish, follow these guidelines and learn about their unique requirements.

Scientific Classification

Every plant has a unique name and belongs to a group of plants with similar traits. This is called scientific classification. When you look at a plant like Calathea, scientists have sorted it into groups from the broadest category to the specific kind. Here’s how Calathea fits into the scientific world:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Angiosperms
  • Class: Monocots
  • Order: Zingiberales
  • Family: Marantaceae
  • Genus: Calathea
  • Species: Many varies (e.g., Calathea ornata, Calathea lancifolia)


Calathea plants need the right amount of light to thrive. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight. This means they should be close to a window but not in the direct path of the sun’s rays. Too much direct light can burn their leaves, causing them to lose their vibrant colors. If you place them in a room with low light, they may grow slower or not at all. The best spot for a Calathea is in a room with a sheer curtain. This helps to diffuse the light, making it gentle on the plant’s leaves. Remember, Calathea plants are like Goldilocks—they don’t want too much or too little light, but rather, it needs to be just right.


Watering your Calathea properly is key to its health. Calatheas need a consistent amount of moisture. Let the top inch of soil dry out before you water the plant again. Use room-temperature water to keep roots from shocking. Also, remember, Calatheas don’t like to sit in water. Over-watering can cause root rot, so ensure the pot has drainage holes. If the leaves start to brown at the edges, your plant could be thirsty. Check the soil, and if it’s dry, it’s time to water. However, don’t let the soil become too soggy. Touch the soil each week; this helps you figure out when to water next. Your Calathea will stay happy with the right balance of watering.


Calathea plants need well-draining soil. This means the soil should let water through quickly, so roots don’t sit in water. You want soil that holds just enough moisture to keep the roots slightly damp. A mix of soil, perlite, and peat is ideal. Perlite helps with drainage, and peat retains a bit of moisture. It’s important not to use regular garden soil because it’s too heavy. Calatheas prefer light and fluffy soil to grow. If the soil is right, your Calathea will have healthy roots and better growth. Always check the soil before watering. If it’s still wet, wait a little longer. This will help prevent root rot. Remember, the soil is the foundation of your Calathea’s health.


Calathea plants are sensitive to temperature changes. They thrive in warm environments. You should keep your Calathea in a room that stays between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees, your plant may start to suffer. Cold drafts from windows or doors can also harm your Calathea. It’s important to keep it away from areas that get too cold. Heat sources like radiators can dry out the plant too. Make sure your Calathea is in a spot with a stable temperature that mimics its tropical origin. This helps it grow well. If the leaves start to curl, it might be too cold for the plant. Remember, your Calathea will tell you if it’s not happy with the temperature. Watch its leaves for signs.


Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Calathea plants love a lot of humidity. They thrive in environments that are moist, similar to the tropical rainforests they come from. Ideally, the humidity around a Calathea should be at least 50%. Lower humidity can make the leaves dry out and turn brown at the edges. You can increase humidity by placing a tray with pebbles and water beneath the plant. As the water evaporates, it boosts the moisture in the air. Another way is to use a humidifier nearby. During dry winter months, it’s especially important to keep an eye on humidity levels. Misting the leaves can also help, but do this sparingly to prevent issues like leaf fungus. High humidity keeps your Calathea’s leaves lush and vibrant.


Fertilizer is like a vitamin boost for Calathea plants. It gives them the extra nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Think of it as plant food. You don’t want to overfeed your plant, so you must apply fertilizer properly. Generally, you would use a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. You should follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to know how much to use. It’s best to fertilize your Calathea about once a month during the growing seasons of spring and summer. During fall and winter, your plant doesn’t grow as much, so it doesn’t need fertilizer. Always remember that too much fertilizer can harm your Calathea, causing the tips of the leaves to brown. So, use it carefully and sparingly to keep your plant happy and healthy.

Size & Growth Rate

Calatheas are known for their moderate growth rate and manageable size. They usually reach 2 feet in height and spread. Their leaves can grow to be quite wide, adding to their lush appearance. During the growing season, which is spring and summer, you’ll notice new leaves unfolding. This is when they do most of their growing. In winter, calatheas slow down and take a break from growing. Be patient with them, as they are not the fastest-growing plants, but their beautiful leaves make the wait worthwhile. Remember, they thrive under the right conditions, so make sure to provide them with what they need, and you’ll enjoy their elegance for a long time.

Common Issues

Calathea plants are unique and lovely, but sometimes they face problems. Pests like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs may attack your plant. These tiny bugs suck on the leaves and can harm your Calathea. Another issue is called leaf-spot disease. This makes brown or yellow spots on the leaves. It happens when a fungus or bacteria grows there. Sometimes, leaves curl or turn brown because they’re not getting the right care. Too little humidity or too much direct sunlight can hurt the leaves. Overwatering is another common problem. It can lead to root rot, where the roots get too wet and start to decay. You might see yellow leaves or a wilting plant if this happens. Take care by checking the plant regularly, and you can help prevent these issues.


Toxicity refers to how poisonous a plant or substance is. If a plant like Calathea is toxic, it means it can cause harm if ingested or if its sap touches your skin. However, you’re in luck with Calathea. This plant is non-toxic to both humans and pets. That means your cats, dogs, or little siblings can be around it without the worry of them getting sick from nibbling on the leaves. It’s always good to keep plants out of reach just to be safe, but with a Calathea, toxicity isn’t a big concern. Remember, just because a plant is non-toxic doesn’t mean eating it is a good idea—plants can still cause upset stomachs or be choking hazards. It’s best to enjoy your Calathea’s beauty with your eyes and not with your mouth.

Pro Tips

When caring for your Calathea, remember these helpful hints:

  • Keep the leaves dust-free: Regularly wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to boost their health.
  • Rotate the pot: Turn the pot a little each week so all sides get even light.
  • Avoid cold drafts and heat: Don’t place your Calathea near cold drafts or hot radiators.
  • Use distilled water: If possible, water with distilled or rainwater to prevent leaf tip browning.
  • Prune regularly: Remove yellow or brown leaves to keep the plant looking fresh.
  • Repot when needed: If the roots fill the pot, it’s time to give your Calathea a new home.
  • Stay patient: Calatheas can be tricky, so don’t get discouraged with a few setbacks.
  • Keep away from direct sunlight: Bright, indirect light is best for these plants.
  • Watch for pests: Inspect regularly for signs of pests and tackle them early.
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