Calathea: How To Care For This Lovely Plant

So beautiful leaves like those of the Calathea or basket marante you rarely get to see. We answer the most important questions about location and care of the decorative houseplant.

Calathea, Korbmarante

The care of the genus Calathea from the arrowroot family (Marantaceae) is admittedly not quite easy. But if you look at the strikingly beautifully drawn leaves of the plant, also called basket marante, you are willing to put in a little effort: they look as if they were painted with a brush and show a unique pattern. The leap of the tropical plant from the rainforests of Brazil into our living rooms is therefore absolutely understandable.

Calathea: growth and appearance of the plant


The Calathea, botanically Calathea makoyana, grows to an average height of 30 centimeters, so it does not take up too much space as a houseplant. Its picturesque leaf pattern, which stands out in white, bright yellow or delicate red against the dark green leaf base, is what makes the plant so decorative. The petioles and leaf bases of the plant are sometimes reddish in color as well.

There are joints between the leaves and the petioles, allowing the plant to curl its leaves at night and open them again during the day. The flowers of the Calathea play only a minor role – they are rarely seen on houseplants anyway. They stand from January to February in upright, yellow spikes.

Even rarer indoors are the fruits, which form after flowering in the form of tiny capsules.

Calathea: How To Care For This Lovely Plant

The right place for the basket maranthea


Calatheas make high demands on their location in the house. It expects

  • constant temperatures of 23 to 25 degrees Celsius during most of the year,
  • should be minimally cooler in winter, but never below 18 degrees Celsius,
  • requires a high humidity in the room of over 60 percent and
  • a semi-shaded place without direct sunlight. Light is important, but blazing sun causes brown leaves.

So, a permanent location for calatheas is a display case, an enclosed flower window, or a place in a heated conservatory or greenhouse. However, it also feels comfortable in bathrooms with windows. If its wishes remain unfulfilled, there is a quick threat of unsightly curled leaves or pest infestation. Spider mites and scale insects are particularly at work if the air in the room is too dry, and they can also spread to the houseplants in the vicinity.

The right care for the Calathea


What kind of soil does the basket maranthea need?


It is easier to choose the right substrate for the Calathea. Put the houseplant in normal potting soil. It is nice and fresh, rich in nutrients and has a high humus content.

How to water the calathea?


When watering, everyone must find the right measure himself, the rhythm varies somewhat depending on the ambient temperature. In addition, the plant prefers water with low lime content. The soil of the Calathea should always be moist, but never wet: a small challenge for potted plants. To prevent waterlogging in the first place, it has paid to fill in a so-called drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. For this you can use, for example, expanded clay from the garden center. Otherwise the Calathea reacts quickly with rotting roots and threatens to die. Tip: Since the Calathea prefers high humidity, you can also spray it with water occasionally.

Do I have to fertilize the Calathea?


In the period from March to August, you should supply the plant with liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks through the watering. This way, it will have sufficient nutrients available during its growth phase.

How often should the Calathea be repotted?


In the case of the Calathea, repotting is done annually in spring. Carefully shake off the old soil from the plant and check the root ball for rotten spots or dried root parts. These are removed with scissors.

Propagate Calathea


At the same time as repotting, you can also propagate the plant by dividing the rootstock. However, when propagating, only separate cuttings that have sufficient roots of their own. They are planted, as usual, and for the initial period placed in a very warm place with high humidity and temperatures between 27 and 30 degrees Celsius. Propagation has another advantage: no matter how well you care for your Calathea, over the years the attractive leaf pattern will fade, so that the leaves will eventually appear pure green. So if you provide for offspring in good time, you’ll always have colorful foliage in your home. Tip: Always use directly a pot that is at least 20 percent larger than the original.

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