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Calathea is a genus of plant in the Marantaceae family. This family is made up of 31 genera and roughly 500 species, including Calathea, Ctenanthe and Marantas. More commonly known as 'Prayer Plants', Marantas and Calatheas posses a sort of 'joint' that allow for the opening and closure of the leaf. At night, the leaves will fold up, and each morning, they will open back up again, looking for the morning sun rays. Commonly collected as a beautiful houseplant, Calathea and Maranta have striking foliage, with many different colors and patterns. They are wonderful for low light applications, but do require some special care.
Calathea do best in a well lit, bright area, out of direct sunlight. Too much direct sun, and the leaves will brown, crisp and die off. North facing, or stepped back from an East facing window would be ideal locations for these beautiful plants. Even bathrooms that have an indirect natural light source can be a great place to put a beautiful Calathea because of the increased humidity.
Calathea can be quite picky with their water, preferring purified or distilled water and do best when they are kept evenly moist at all times. Higher humidity levels are a must for Calathea and Maranta. Tanks, Terrariums, and Domes are perfect. Pebble trays under the pots also help, as well as humidifiers running on a continuous basis. This will prevent leaf browning, wilting, and wrinkling.
While it is not completely necessary, you can use a general purpose, high quality fertilizer from Spring through Fall. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to about 50% strength. Fish Head Farms soil conditioner is a great option to use year round to provide essential nutrients and promote strong, healthy growth.
A loose, well draining soilless mix is ideal. A peat based mixture with lots of chunky perlite, or vermiculite will do the trick. For a pre-mixed formula, we find that a cactus/succulent blend could be ok, but we recommend adding more perlite, vermiculite or even chunky moss to maintain moisture levels, but keep the roots airy.
Most Calathea and Maranta are slow growers and therefor do not need, or want, to be repotted very frequently. We recommend doing so only every 2 years and only if they are noticeably pot bound. Even then, you only want to upgrade 1 or 1.5 pot sizes to reduce stress. This should be done in the Spring or early Summer months. If you have just recently purchased your plant, do not repot it for at least 6 months.
The most common pest issues for Calathea and Maranta, like many others, would be Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. If you were to find any, see our At Home Pest Recipes here.
Calathea and Maranta can be propagated by dividing the new plants from the mother plant, at the root level, as long as they have a few leaves on them. You can also divide and cut just below nodes on the stalk of Maranta, as a top cutting, to propagate, however, this method can be more difficult and can not be used for Calathea, as they do not produce nodes along their stalks as they grow.
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!