Bring the Tropics to Your Home: A Guide to Calathea Plants


  • Author Timea Fabian
  • Published February 8, 2023
  • Word count 647

Calathea plants, also known as prayer plants, are prized for their beautiful, brightly colored leaves and unique patterning. These tropical perennials are native to the rainforests of South America and are well suited to life as houseplants. With their striking foliage and ease of care, Calathea plants make excellent additions to any indoor plant collection.

Light Requirements for Calathea Plants

Calathea plants thrive in bright, indirect light and do not tolerate direct sunlight. Place your Calathea plant near a bright window, but be sure to protect it from the sun's harsh rays. If your home does not receive enough natural light, you can also provide supplemental lighting using fluorescent lights.

Watering Calathea Plants

Calathea plants are native to tropical rainforests and therefore require a consistent level of moisture. It's important not to allow the soil to dry out completely, but at the same time, you should avoid over-watering, as this can lead to root rot. A good rule of thumb is to water your Calathea plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Be sure to use a pot with good drainage to prevent water from pooling and causing root rot.

Humidity for Calathea Plants

Calathea plants are native to a very humid environment, and therefore require high humidity levels to thrive. To maintain adequate humidity levels for your Calathea plant, you can place a humidifier near it, or place the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. This will create a humid microclimate around the plant, which will help it to thrive.

Temperature for Calathea Plants

Calathea plants prefer warm temperatures and do not tolerate cold drafts. Keep your Calathea plant in a room with a temperature between 65-85°F (18-29°C). Be sure to avoid placing it near a cold window or air conditioning unit, as this can cause the leaves to become crispy and discolored.

Fertilizing Calathea Plants

Calathea plants do not require frequent fertilization and can be fed every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and be sure to dilute it to half strength before applying. Over-fertilization can cause leaf burn and yellowing, so it is important to be mindful of the amount you use.

Potting and Repotting Calathea Plants

Calathea plants prefer to be slightly pot-bound, so it is not necessary to repot them too frequently. Repotting should be done every 2-3 years, or when the plant has outgrown its current pot. Use a well-draining potting mix, such as a peat-based mix, and be sure to plant the Calathea at the same depth it was previously growing.

Pests and Diseases

Calathea plants are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but can be susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. To prevent these pests from becoming a problem, regularly inspect your Calathea plant for any signs of infestation and treat promptly if necessary.

Propagating Calathea Plants

Calathea plants can be easily propagated by division. The best time to divide your Calathea is in spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing. To divide your Calathea, gently remove it from its pot and separate the individual clumps of roots and leaves. Replant each clump into its own pot and water thoroughly.

Pruning Calathea Plants

Calathea plants do not require frequent pruning, but you can trim off yellow or damaged leaves to maintain a healthy appearance. You can also pinch back the tips of the plant to encourage bushier growth. Be sure to use clean, sharp scissors to avoid damaging the plant.


Calathea plants are stunning and unique houseplants that will add a touch of tropical flair to any indoor space. With proper care and attention, they can thrive and bring joy to their owners for years to come. Just remember to provide bright, indirect light, consistent moisture, high humidity, and warm temperatures, and your Calathea plant will flourish. Happy gardening!

I am Tímea Fábián, editor of the gardening website On my website I give advice to my readers on the care of houseplants and garden plants.

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