Calathea (Prayer plant) - Care tips

Calathea

The Calathea is a tropical plant that is most known for her colourful foliage and the unique movement of her leaves. She is easy going, pet-friendly and has great air-purifying capacities, which makes her a popular houseplant.

Prayer Plant

The Calathea is part of the ‘prayer plant’ or arrowroot family Marantaceae. Prayer plants thank their nickname to the unique movement of their leaves, called nyctinasty. They fold their leaves upward (resembling praying hands) when they go to ‘sleep’ at night and open their leaves again in the morning.

Due to her human-like daily circadian rhythm, the Calathea is even nicknamed the ‘Living Plant’. All Calatheas move their leaves to some extent, but some do it more dramatically than others. When it is reeeeally quiet and you’re lucky, you might even hear rustling sound when your Calathea plant moves her leaves!

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Calathea varieties

The Calathea plant family is a big one, so there are many Calathea varieties to choose from. They come in different shapes and sizes, all with their own uniquely coloured foliage.

Many Calathea varieties have cute nicknames such as peacock plant, zebra plant and rattlesnake plant – yes, there’s definitely a theme going on here!

Nicknamed the ‘Zebra Plant’, the Calathea Zebrina has bright green leaves marked with dark green stripes, resembling the stripes on a zebra. When she closes her leaves at night, she reveals the stunning purple undersides of her leaves. The Calathea Lancifolia or ‘Rattlesnake Plant’ has long, narrow leaves marked with darker blotches that resemble the markings of – you probably already guessed it – a rattlesnake.

Another variety with purple-ish undersides is the Calathea Makoyana, commonly known as the Peacock Plant. She has thin, light green leaves with dark green ‘peacock’ markings. Both the stem and the underside of the leaves have a stunning purple colour.

The Calathea variety with the most characteristic purple colour is the Calathea Veitchiana ‘Medallion’ – nicknamed after its medallion-like leaves. The Calathea Orbifolia on the other hand has large silvery-green leaves with pale green undersides.

Other varieties include the rare Calathea White Fusion, the Calathea Triostar and the Calathea Roseopicta 'Dottie'.

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Calathea Plant Care Tips

Regardless of the variety, Calatheas are relatively easy to care for. The Calathea is a very expressive plant that quickly makes it visually clear when she is unhappy.

Is your Calathea not uncurling her leaves anymore or is she no longer closing her leaves at night? Then she is probably not feeling too well. The Calathea follows the movements of the sun in order to absorb the correct amount of light, but when she gets too much sunlight, she closes her leaves to reduce the amount of sun she is exposed to.
Leaf curling can however also be temperature-related: if she gets too cold, the Calathea will close her leaves to keep herself warm. Aww, that’s actually pretty cute, isn’t it?

Light and placement

The Calathea originates from Brazil and appreciates warm, humid ‘tropical’ conditions. Being used to grow at the base of trees in the dense tropical rainforest, the Calathea can tolerate low lightning conditions pretty well, but thrives best in bright indirect lightning. Direct sunlight can permanently damage and fade her delicate leaves, so be careful not to place her too close to a sunny window.

Water

The Calathea likes to sit in moist – but not soggy – soil. She doesn’t like wet feet for too long, so it’s best to give her small amounts of water regularly and not too much at once. You can let the top layer of the soil dry out slightly between watering, but when you stick your finger deeper into the soil, it should never come out completely dry. Too little water can make her leaves dry out and curl up.

She absorbs moisture through her big, wide leaves so you can boost humidity by misting her leaves. Keep in mind that the leaves of the prayer plant are quite sensitive, so make sure to adjust the nozzle to the finest mist setting.

Nutrition

You can boost your Calathea with some plant food every one or two weeks during summer. In winter, she hibernates and and does not crave any plant nutrition.

Poisonous

The Calathea plant is a non-toxic plant, so she is the perfect match if you are into both plants and pets!

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Calathea plant for sale

At PLNTS.com you can buy different types of Calathea prayer plants, like the Calathea Zebrina, the Calathea Orbifolia and the Calathea Medallion. With so many varieties to choose from, there is a Calathea for everyone!

Whether you like your Calatheas big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - we’ve got you covered!

Hi, I'm Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!

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