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How to Grow and Care for Calatheas Houseplants

Calatheas are stunning houseplants known for their vibrant foliage and unique patterns. It’s easy to learn how to grow and care for calatheas.

These tropical beauties have gained popularity among plant enthusiasts. That’s because they have low maintenance requirements and can thrive indoors.

Introducing Calatheas

Calatheas, scientifically known as Calathea spp., belong to the Marantaceae family. Native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, these plants are well-adapted to the indoor environment.

Calatheas are recognized for their large, decorative leaves, which come in various colors and patterns.

Choosing the Right Calathea Variety

When selecting a calathea plant, there are a few factors to consider. Some have different leaf patterns, growth habits, and overall size. Some of the most popular varieties include:

Calathea Orbifolia

This variety showcases broad, silver-green leaves with dark green stripes. It is a larger calathea and can grow up to two feet in height.

Calathea Medallion

With its round, dark green leaves and vibrant purple undersides, the Calathea Medallion is a favorite among plant lovers. It reaches a height of around 12 inches.

Calathea Zebrina

Known for its striking zebra-like patterns, this calathea features elongated leaves with deep green stripes on a lighter green background. It grows up to 2-3 feet tall.

Light and Temperature Requirements

Calatheas thrive in bright, indirect light. They prefer a spot near a window, but not right in direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves.

If the light in your home is limited, you can supplement it with artificial LED grow lights.

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial for the well-being of your calathea plant. They prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C).

Avoid exposing them to drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations.

Watering and Humidity

Calatheas have a moderate watering requirement. Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Before watering, check the top inch of soil; if it feels dry, it’s time to water.

These tropical plants thrive in high humidity. Mist the leaves regularly or place them on a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity levels. You can also use a humidifier to maintain the ideal humidity range of 50-60%.

Soil and Potting

Calatheas prefer well-draining soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. A mixture of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil works well for these plants. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

When potting your calathea, choose a container that allows room for its roots to grow. A pot one size larger than the current one is usually sufficient. You’ll need to repot it every 1-2 years to prevent root-bound plants.


To keep your calathea healthy and vibrant, feed it with a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer).

Follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct dosage and frequency. During the dormant period (fall and winter), reduce fertilization to once a month or halt it entirely.

Pruning and Maintenance

Regular pruning helps maintain the shape and overall health of your calathea. Trim any yellowing or damaged leaves using clean, sharp scissors or shears.

Dusting the leaves with a damp cloth or using a gentle spray of water helps keep them clean and free from dust, which can hinder their ability to absorb light.

Dealing with Common Issues

Calatheas are generally resistant to pests, but they can occasionally attract spider mites, mealybugs, or aphids. Inspect your plant regularly, particularly on the underside of leaves, for any signs of pests.

If an infestation occurs, treat it with appropriate organic or chemical insecticides.

Yellowing leaves may indicate overwatering, while brown, crispy edges can result from underwatering or low humidity. Adjust your watering routine or humidity levels accordingly to address these issues.


If you want to expand your calathea collection, propagation through division is a simple and effective method. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and separate the clumps into sections, ensuring each section has a healthy root system.
  2. Plant each section in a separate pot filled with well-draining soil.
  3. Water the newly potted divisions and place them in a warm, bright location.
  4. Maintain humidity levels by covering the pots with plastic bags or using a propagation dome.
  5. Within a few weeks, new growth should emerge, indicating successful propagation.