Calathea Care For The Home and Landscape

Calathea assorted

Calathea is tropical plant that is also known as the Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina).

These plants are used mainly for their vibrant colorful leaves. Colors include yellow, rose, white, and even olive.

The Calathea grows to a height of 6 to 36 inches. They need at least 55 degrees to survive in the winter months.

There are several varieties of Calathea. The leaves of the Calathea insignis (also called Rattlesnake Plant) are wavy edged and can grow to as long as 18 inches.

These leaves are pale green on top with dark green blotches with the underneath is dark maroon.

The Calathea makoyana is also called either the Cathedral Windows or Peacock Plant has leaves that are unique in that they have transparent type windows on them.

They are oval in shape and pale green in color and have blotches that are dark green and oblong with creamy white type feathering.

calathea flowers

Calathea Flowers

The flowers of this plant are shaped tubular and manifest short, irregular thick spikes that are white in color, and lobes that are purple.

Another variety is the Calathea majestica or sanderiana, which has leathery leaves that are shaped oval and are olive green in color.

The leaves have glossy tops with plum red on the bottom or underneath and they have white and pink stripes. These flowers are mauve or white color and have yellowish brown bracts.

These are only a few of the varieties of Calathea.

Calathea can be tough to grow for the average person. But with a little diligence on your part, you can overcome the problems and grow them successfully.

bed of Calatheas

Here are some requirements to grow them successfully:

  • First thing, these plants only need a moderate amount of light. No direct sunlight needed filtered light is best. Too direct of sunlight will change the leaf color and cause burning of the leaves.
  • The ideal temperature for the Calathea is 60 to 70 degrees F. If a warmer room is involved, however, you will need to increase the humidity, which is discussed next.
  • These plants thrive with humidity you may have to create an artificial environment to accommodate this. This is done by putting the pot on a tray filled with rocks or pebbles. Also, you can actually just run a humidifier near them.
  • The Calathea loves moisture not wet feet. When the few top inches of soil are dry but deep down is still moist water again. Let the water reach room temp before using. This is accomplished by letting the water stand for about 15 minutes at this point it can be used.
  • Every year you need to examine your Calatheas to see if their roots are saying it is time for repotting plants to a larger pot, if they do… simply pot them into larger pots.
  • Also, Calatheas do not like drafty rooms either. In too cold of climates, you will need to use greenhouses or only grow inside the house. If grown outside though make sure to use plenty of compost for drainage and plant in the shade to keep the leaves from getting burned.
  • You can propagate these plants by separating them into sections and pot the sections. Do this in the spring when you check them for repotting.

Exquisite Beauty of Calathea Rosea Picta

Calathea Roseo Picta

Calathea Roseo Picta is also known as Painted Calathea, Rose Painted Prayer Plant. This species is famous for their colored foliage. The plant has large leaves elliptical in shape.

Each glossy leaf is prominently dark green in color with rose-colored midrib.

In between the margin and midrib is an irregular feathered rosy-colored ring. The underside of the leaf is purple in color with short reddish-brown petioles holding each leaf.

In addition to the beautiful foliage, Calathea Roseo Picta plants also produce white and purple flowers. The flowers are so small that they are considered to be less significant compared to the plant foliage.

The beautiful Calathea Roseo Picta is used by interiorscapers and makes an attractive pooted container plant. It can be used indoors and outdoors.

When grown outdoors, landscapers make use of it as a ground cover or en masse for mix planters and mix borders.

The plant’s leaf colors can add a sense of variety to any garden, landscape, or interior.

Calathea Concinna Potted

Calathea concinna or Concinna Prayer Plant has a combination of light green and dark green leaves in a palm-like form.

In a year, Calathea concinna blooms white flower repeatedly. An attractive plant to birds, bees and butterflies.

This plant is an excellent groundcover and for indoor use that requires constant water and never let the soil dry out between waterings.

Calathea Corona

Calathea Corona

If love foliage plants but cannot afford collector’s plants, Calathea Corona may answer to your needs.

Corona is grown its stunning patterned foliage. The shiny leaves are generally olive green in color with dark green edges. Bright silvery gray highlights the center of each leaf.

Each round leaf is generally broad in size and taper to a point. Young or new leaves are usually curled and as they emerge they show off their purplish red undersides.

Like other “prayer plants” the leaves fold at night appearing like hands clasped in prayer. Calathea Corona does well as a potted specimen plant.

Calathea rotundifolia

Because of its dense foliage, it has this mysterious effect as it conceals its stems when put indoors to accentuate any spot it occupies.

Calathea Rotundifolia

One of the beautiful plants you can find in nurseries and garden centers during the spring and early summer is Calathea rotundifolia.

The calathea name came from the Greek word kalathos which means basket; while rotundifolia means rounded leaf.

From the name of the plant itself, you will easily know that calathea rotundifolia is a stocky plant with large and round leaves.

Each leathery-textured leaf is veined with light green and generally shows alternating bronze-green bands.

Calathea rotundifolia is usually grown for its foliage. Because of its short or stocky form, rotundifolia makes a suitable indoor plant as well as a container plant.

Outdoors, rotundifolia should be grown under semi-shade or indirect sunlight.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Candy Hansen August 5, 2010 at 9:05 am


I love this plant, however I am having trouble growing it. The leaves when mature turn dry and brittle and die off. New growth then starts again and the process of dry and brittle follows again.
I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I need help. Any info you could give me would be helpful.

Thank you
Candy Hansen

clover27288 February 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I have a Calathea concinna “Freddie” that I purchased and repotted to a bigger pot with a built-in water holder. The roots are still nice and white. It has a green flower, which I plan to clip off (thanks for your article about “green flowers”). Now I just brought Freddie home and his leaves are not marked. He was purchased indoors. Maybe he was cold? Are his leaves supposed to be waxy and deep green?

If I keep Freddie in my kitchen (no windows) at about 68-70*, will he stay alive? Will he still flower and have marked leaves? Could you recommend a good brand of nutrients for his water? I know nothing of plants, just don’t over-water. Thanks for your help!

admin February 28, 2012 at 10:01 am

“Freddie” should do fine indoors at 68-70 degrees but your calathea will need light. I sent a message on the marked leaves.

A liquid fertilizer like: Miracle Gro Houseplant Food should work fine. I’ve been using it indoors on plants for years. However, I always use it at half-strength.