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Plant Care Guide for Calathea Houseplants

Calathea houseplants, with their captivating foliage and vibrant colours, have been enchanting indoor garden enthusiasts for generations. Calathea plants come in various species and cultivars, each with its unique appeal, from zebra-like stripes to intricate patterns resembling peacock feathers. In this care guide, we will delve into the world of Calathea houseplants, exploring their popular varieties and detailed care instructions to help you cultivate these exotic treasures in your indoor space. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or just beginning your green journey, the information provided here will assist you in successfully nurturing these stunning plants, bringing a touch of the rainforest to your home. 

Varieties and Names

Calathea houseplants come in various species and cultivars, each with its unique characteristics. Some popular varieties include:

  1. Calathea orbifolia: Known for its large, round leaves with silver stripes.
  2. Calathea medallion (Calathea veitchiana): Features striking, oval-shaped leaves with dark green patterns and a burgundy underside.
  3. Calathea zebrina (Calathea zebrina): Recognisable for its zebra-like stripes on its elongated leaves.
  4. Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake plant): Characterised by its elongated, lance-shaped leaves with green and purple stripes.
  5. Calathea makoyana (Peacock plant): Named for its feather-like patterns on the leaves, featuring shades of green, cream, and pink.

Calathea Houseplant Care

Calatheas, often referred to as “prayer plants” due to the way their leaves move, are beloved indoor plants that thrive in a humid environment. Learning how to care for a Calathea is essential for plant parents who want to keep their beautiful Calathea varieties, such as Calathea Freddie, Calathea Rattlesnake, Calathea Musaica, and Calathea White, healthy and vibrant.

Light Requirements

Calatheas prefer medium to bright indirect light. Place your Calathea in a spot where they receive filtered or dappled sunlight, but avoid direct sunlight that can burn the leaves. These tropical plants tolerate lower light conditions, making them ideal for indoor spaces with limited natural light.

Temperature and Humidity

To keep your Calathea thriving, maintain a warm and consistent temperature between 18°C to 27°C. These plants love high humidity levels, and you can achieve this by using a pebble tray filled with water, a humidifier, or regular misting. Aim to keep the room’s humidity around 60% or higher to prevent brown edges on the leaves.


When it comes to Calathea care, understanding their water requirements is crucial. Water your Calathea when the top inch of the potting soil is dry, but be sure not to overwater. To prevent root rot, allow the potting soil to dry slightly between waterings and use distilled water or rainwater instead of tap water.

Potting Soil

Use a well-draining potting soil mix. You can enhance the soil’s drainage by adding perlite to it, ensuring proper aeration and moisture retention for your Calathea.


During the growing season, which is typically spring and summer, feed your Calathea with a balanced, liquid fertiliser diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks. Reduce or entirely stop fertilising in the autumn and winter when the plant is not actively growing.

Pruning and Rotation

Regularly prune any yellowing or damaged leaves to promote healthy growth. Spring or summer is the best time for pruning. To ensure even growth, rotate your plant occasionally, as Calatheas are also known as “prayer plants” due to the way their leaves turn towards the light.


Repot your Calathea every 2-3 years or when it becomes root-bound. When repotting, choose a slightly larger pot to allow room for growth.

Pests and Diseases

Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests, such as spider mites and aphids, and be vigilant about overwatering to prevent root rot. If you notice the leaves of your Calathea turning brown, it’s time to adjust your care routine.

By following these plant care tips and providing the right type of care for your Calathea, you can enjoy the stunning, patterned leaves and unique behaviour of these wonderful indoor plants. Calatheas are indeed special, and their care is worth the effort to keep them thriving and vibrant.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why are the leaves of my Calathea curling or browning?

Curling leaves can be a sign of low humidity. Browning can result from underwatering, overwatering, or exposure to direct sunlight.

How can I increase humidity for my Calathea plant?

You can place a humidity tray with water near the plant, use a humidifier, or regularly mist the leaves with water.

Can I use tap water to water my Calathea?

It’s best to use distilled or filtered water, as Calathea plants are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride found in tap water.

Should I fertilise my Calathea in the winter?

It’s best to reduce or stop fertilising during the autumn and winter months when the plant is not actively growing.

What is causing my Calathea to lose its vibrant colours?

Inadequate light, overwatering, or a lack of humidity can cause the vibrant colours on the leaves to fade.


Calathea houseplants are not only known for their stunning foliage but also for their unique patterns and vibrant colours. By providing the right care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants in your indoor space while adding a touch of tropical rainforest to your home. Read our other houseplant care guides here.

Updated on November 8, 2023

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