Are you wanting a pet friendly, unique, and exciting house plant? Then maybe the Calathea, aka Prayer Plant is right for you! Here is a fun fact about these neat plants to kick start things! A Calathea or Prayer plant, whichever you prefer, changes positions throughout the day. When the sun comes up the Calathea follows and opens up, spreads its leaves in different directions. When the sun goes down, it “prays”, the Calathea will raise its leaves into the “prayer position”. If you are able to, you can catch a time lapse video of the Calathea moving throughout the day. Amazing right! There's nothing like checking on your favorite plant just to notice it's moved since the last time you checked on it! There is never a dull moment with these plants!
Here are some basic needs of the Calathea. Some are more needy than others, but most of the time if you follow these simple care tips you will have a healthy, happy praying plant!
Sunlight Requirements: Calatheas thrive in medium to bright indirect light. They can tolerate low light, but always remember, surviving is not thriving! Be sure to keep your calathea in indirect sunlight, exposing your plant to strong direct sunlight can cause the leaves to sunburn!
Water Requirements: Water every 1-2 weeks or when the soil (up to 2-2 1/2 inches) is dry. Be careful not to let your Calathea's soil dry out to much, it'll cause some issues as time passes! Also, distilled water has proven itself to be a better choice for this plant. Some Calatheas tend to have issues due to the contents of well or city water. Try to remember that uneven watering can cause browning/drying of the leaves. Don't worry tho, you can use a sharp pair of scissors to trim the browns edges. Be very careful, do not trim all of the brown part off, it can shock the plant!
Humidity Requirements: Calatheas thrive in a high humidity environment. A few ways to achieve this is by misting the plant, adding a humidifier to the area where your plant lives, or using a pebble tray. (How to set up your pebble tray: you can use a cache dish, like the plastic type that you sit under your pots to catch water drainage. Add gravel or pebbles to the tray, make sure your pot is able to sit level on the pebbles/gravel. Add a shallow amount of water to the pebble tray and sit your pot on top.)
Ideal Temperature: In between 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) to 85 degrees F (30 degrees C)
Here are some symptoms, causes, and possible fixes for some common Calathea problems:
Symptom: wilting and curling leaves coupled with dry potting soil
Cause: Under watering aka thirsty plant
Possible fix: watering with distilled water, be careful not to water log (soggy soil) your plant.
Symptom: Leaf spots
Cause: mineral build up from tap water
Possible fix: switch to distilled water. You can also gently wipe the leaves to remove water spots caused by minerals in the tap water.
Symptom: Yellowing of the leaves, black stems, mushiness, falling apart
Cause: root rot, over watering
Possible fix: Trim brown/black mushy roots/stems, water less, allow soil to semi dry out and then lightly water your plant. Create a watering schedule to insure over watering doesn't happen again.
These are some of your Calathea basics. Be sure to check out our other blogs! We have some great information on other plant types, common pests and how to overcome them, and fertilizers.