How Do You Take Care Of A Calathea Plant?

The leaves of the Calathea plant are distinctive. Partly green, partly reddish-purple colored with light shades. With its grained leaves, this low-maintenance houseplant is a real eye-catcher in your home. In this article, we’d like to show you how to apply proper Calathea care in your home so that you and your plant become a well-oiled team.

The history of the Calathea

Calathea, also called basket marante, describes a genus of plants with about 32 species. These in turn belong to the arrowroot family (Marantaceae). Other names for the Calathea in the European-speaking world are simply arrowroot or maranta. Its natural origin is in tropical South America. There, especially in the tropical rainforest of Brazil.


The appearance of the Calathea

For its decorative and colorful leaves alone, you should showcase the Calathea in your home. The leaves of this tropical plant can grow up to 60 cm long and vary in shape and pattern depending on the species. They grow in a wide variety of colors on a rather inconspicuous stem that is barely visible. With its height of 20 to 40 centimeters, the Calathea belongs to the small to medium-sized houseplants. The Calathea has one special feature: it can curl up its leaves in the evening. In the morning they roll up again.

Calathea Species

To the genera of Calathea can be somewhat similar in shape and color, but nevertheless also very different. On our site you can find some Calathea species on offer. These include Calathea, Calathea Dottie, Calathea Ornata, Calathea Lancifolia and Calathea Rosea Dottie.

Proper Calathea care: location, fertilizing, repotting, etc.

Proper care is also essential for basket maranths. What you should pay attention to when caring for your Calathea:

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The right Calathea location

Since the Calathea originally comes from the tropical rainforest, it also has certain requirements regarding the location and temperature. There it likes to grow on the ground where it is well protected from the sunlight by the shade of the larger trees. In your home it likes it warm and humid and half shady. The living room, bedroom or hallways with western exposure are very suitable locations. However, you should make sure that the room temperature is between 15 and 23 degrees. So it can develop its full splendor permanently.

The right Calathea soil

For proper Calathea care, you should also make sure that you use the right soil for your plant. The best soil for this purpose is fibrous, air-permeable and humus-rich potting soil. You should rather do without cheap soil. It should be high-quality soil with as high a humus content as possible. If you mix perlite (small volcanic rocks) into the soil, you will increase the permeability and water storage capacity. It is also important that the pH value is between 4.5 and 5.5.

Calathea watering

Lime-free water (for example rainwater) is especially good for the Calathea. In the months from April to September you have to water your Calathea regularly. Since the plant has a relatively high water requirement, you should make sure that the soil always stays moist and does not dry out. In the winter months you can water the Calathea a little less.

Tip: Avoid dryness and waterlogging.

If you want to do something good for your plant, you can spray it with lukewarm water from time to time. This increases the humidity in the room. If it is particularly warm, then you should do this more often, of course.

Calathea fertilizing

In contrast to the water requirement, the nutrient requirement for Calathea care is not particularly high. In the main growth phase, you should provide it with liquid fertilizer in half concentration about every four weeks. Make sure that the fluorine content in the fertilizer is low. In addition, the Calathea does not like too high a salt concentration.

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Calathea pruning

You don’t have to pay much attention to pruning. If you see wilted or dried leaves, you can easily cut them off with a sharp knife. It is always best to remove the leaf directly at the base just above the ground. If your plant is a flowering Calathea, then you should of course also cut off the wilted flowers.

Tip: You can also cut back your Calathea if you discover that the shoots are too long. You can cut back a maximum of two thirds of the length. Spring is the best time to do this.

Calathea repotting

The best time to repot Calathea is in spring. Since the roots of the plant grow relatively slowly, you only need to repot it every two to three years. If the roots grow out of the soil or the pot earlier, then you should also plant your Calathea earlier in a larger flower pot.

Tip: Since the Calathea plant belongs to the flat-rooted plants, always make sure that the pot is more wide than high.

For repotting, carefully lift the plant out of the pot and see if there are any diseased or rotten roots. Cut them off with a sharp knife. If you carefully pull the root ball apart a little with your fingers, this will make planting easier. Finally, leave a margin of two centimeters below the edge of the pot, so that the soil is not filled up to the top.

The right Calathea propagation

Calathea care also includes propagation, of course. If you have a nice large specimen of the plant, then you can use it to propagate with head cuttings. The time from February to March is best for this. If you want the bushiest plant possible, make sure the shoots have between three and six leaves and plant three or four plants together in one pot. To remove the head cuttings from the mother plant, always use a clean and sharp knife. Make sure that you always keep the soil of the young plants evenly moist. This promotes good rooting.

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Is the Calathea poisonous?

You can be sure. Calathea is not poisonous to cats, dogs or even children. Even if your cat may vomit after eating it, it is harmless. It could be caused by another houseplant that is poisonous.

Tips for problems with the Calathea

Too much wetness is not good for the Calathea. This is because it can lead to root rot. If the leaves turn yellow and fall off, this is an indication. You should then immediately repot the diseased plant into a new pot with fresh and dry substrate. Calathea, like other houseplants, can also be infested with spider mites. If this is the case, then you should shower off the leaves of the Calathea plant and increase the humidity at the site. The plant pests do not like this. Do you want to complete your Urban Jungle with other houseplants? Then get inspired on our page and find the right Calathea that suits you!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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