40 Calathea makoyana Care Tips: Ultimate Peacock Plant Grow Guide

Calathea-Makoyana

Calathea makoyana is one of the most stunning indoor plants available. Its tall, slender stem with intricately designed leaves makes it a show-stopper. 

While a little trickier to grow than some houseplants, the makoyana, or Peacock Plant, is a beautiful addition to any home, especially as a table plant.

In this Calathea makoyana care guide, we’re reviewing all the basic needs of this tropical plant so that you can have instant success over several years to come.

CALATHEA MAKOYANA PLANT CARE GUIDE | How To Care For A CALATHEA Peacock Plant | Ep 19

What Is Calathea makoyana?

Calathea makoyana, also known as Peacock Plants or Cathedral Windows, are evergreen perennial plants that grow well anywhere with medium to bright indirect light (even a room with low light will work) as a houseplant. The intricate designs on the leaves look similar to feathers, which is where it got the name, Peacock Plant. 

Their elliptical light green leaves have dark forest green marks along the veins that branch out from the center. The undersides of the leaves are a purplish maroon color, making this, all around, a really beautiful houseplant.

When new leaves emerge, they are rolled up to reveal their pinkish-red undersides, adding another burst of color.

Botanical Name: Calathea makoyana

Family: Member of the Marantaceae family

Common Name: Peacock Plant; Cathedral Windows

Plant Size: A slender plant with large ornate leaves; grows up to 2 feet or more

Distinguishing Feature: Leaves with oval dark green designs

Calathea makoyana photo by Lazy Flora

Origin And Family

The Peacock plant belongs to the Calathea genus and the Arrowroots (Marantaceae) family. It has tropical origins, coming from the Espirito Sant state in eastern Brazil rainforests. Calathea makoyana has become a popular indoor plant in recent years due to its flamboyant looks, thriving in most households with moderate-to-high humidity.

In recent years, most Calatheas have actually been reclassified to the genus Goeppertia, including makoyana. This means that this plant is technically called a Goeppertia makoyana. That said, most nurseries still call it a Calathea, as this is more commonly known to indoor growers. 

Nees Von Essenback first described the Goeppertia genus in 1831, and many of its cultivars make terrific additions to an indoor grower’s collection.

Of all the Calatheas available, the makoyana is one of the clan’s showiest cultivars.

Calathea makoyana For Sale

If you want to buy this popular houseplant, you can check the local florist or nursery. However, there are better deals online at places like Icarus Plants.

In terms of price, the Peacock Plant is very affordable, with plants costing between $10 and $30, typically. For some mature plants, you might pay slightly more.

A few varieties have brilliant blooms, but the traditional Peacock Plant is not one of them.

If you’re having this plant shipped during the winter, we recommend that you request heat packs, which can help keep the plant warm.

 

Is Calathea makoyana A Prayer Plant?

Most plants in the genus Calathea are called prayer plants for their leaves’ unique ability to open and close with light and darkness respectively. While makoyana is a prayer plant, it doesn’t really fold like the Calathea ‘Beauty Star’ – its leaves do move up and down as if they were fans. It’s really impressive to see, especially when you use a time-lapse.

Calathea Makoyana 20hr Time Lapse

Calathea makoyana Plant Size

The houseplant Calathea makoyana typically grows up to 18-24″ tall (but can sometimes be more) and spreads up to 8″ wide. When placed anywhere with medium to bright indirect sunlight (even a low-light room will work), it’s a slow-to-moderate that you can expect to enjoy for years to come. 

Calathea makoyana Care Needs

With the right care, your Calathea makoyana will thrive. The prayer plant, which adores humidity and has lovely glossy green leaves, wants relatively moist soil throughout the year.

For most growers, you’ll want to water your Calathea when the surface becomes dry to the touch (every two to four days in the summer). 

Allow plenty of time for the water to drain out of the pot’s draining hole. Similarly, in terms of lighting, this lovely plant needs bright indirect light to thrive.

Check out the thorough care guidelines below for more specific advice.

Care Difficulty

While all plants require some kind of care, the Calathea makoyana is considered easy-to-moderate to care for. Calatheas, as a whole, can be a little tricky to grow, but the Peacock Plant is actually pretty easygoing.

With the right combination of factors, you can easily keep this plant thriving. For this prayer plant, the main growing considerations are the amount of bright indirect light and the amount of water you give it.

Growth Rate

The Calathea makoyana plant measures 18-24″ in height. The warm months of spring to fall mark the start of their growing season. That said, this Calathea doesn’t have a true winter dormancy period, but you will need to lay off watering and fertilizer during colder months.

Calathea species grow in stages ranging from slow to moderate, including the makoyana. It takes about 3-5 years for this plant to reach proper maturity.

Soil

A peat-based commercial potting mix or African violet soil mix is ideal for the Peacock plant. This plant wants soil with coarse mulch, leaves (or other organic matter), peat moss, and sand or perlite in a perfect state.

Well-draining soil is also a must for this plant. And let’s be honest – it’s really a requirement for all plants. Most of them don’t like to have “wet feet.” 

Here are some excellent options for soil or potting mix:

Potting

This stunning plant has adjusted well to indoor living, but some growers say it doesn’t enjoy a terracotta or clay pot. The thought here is that the terracotta absorbs the water from the soil. 

Other growers disagree, saying that the terracotta helps the roots stay optimally moist. 

When it comes down to it, you can probably use a terracotta pot. But to be on the safe side, we recommend a plastic pot or a glazed ceramic pot for Calathea makoyana.

In terms of sizing, you typically want to use a pot that is 1-2″ larger in diameter than the plant. It should be fine as long as it has at least one drainage hole (but preferably more in the bottom of the pot).

Good drainage is a must for the makoyana.

Repotting

You typically need to repot your Calathea makoyana every one to two years, ideally in the spring or fall years or until you notice roots filling up the pot or pushing through the drainage holes. When this happens, carefully remove the plant from the pot.

From here, replant your Peacock plant into a new pot. 

Repotting Calathea Makoyana photo by MyHomeNature

pH for Calathea makoyana

For this makoyana, you’ll need a soil pH of around 6.5-7, which is considered slightly acidic to neutral. In most cases, a basic commercial potting soil is pretty similar to this and should be fine.

Conduct a pH soil test if you think the soil has too low or high pH. There are low-cost tests available on the internet or at a garden center.

To raise the pH, add calcitic or dolomitic lime, wood ashes, or baking soda if necessary.

If you’re concerned that the pH of your Calathea makoyana is too high, you can use sulfur or aluminum sulfate to decrease it.

Water

Peacock plants are humidity-loving plants that need relatively moist soil. They also have an issue with tap water, so consider either using filtered water or leave your tap water sitting out for at least 24 hours before using. This will allow time for fluoride to escape from the water, which can irritate the Calathea’s leaves. 

If you see brown edges or brown spots on your plants, it might be caused by the use of tap water.

From spring to fall, water your plant when the surface becomes dry to the touch (every two to four days in the summer). Water deeply until it drains out the holes in the bottom of the plastic pot or a glazed ceramic pot, instead of a terracotta or clay pot. Be sure to toss out the water collection tray to fend off root rot.

In the winter months, you won’t need to water as much. Water your plants deeply but less frequently.

Should I Mist Calathea makoyana?

The main reason to mist your peacock plant is to increase the humidity in the space. There are other (and in my option, better) ways to increase the humidity, such as setting up a humidifier. 

Misting with a bottle can sometimes attract fungal spots, which makoyana is prone to. If you are determined to mist your healthy plant, spray it at the base of the plant – not the leaves themselves.

Light Needs For Peacock Plant

This stunning houseplant prefers bright indirect light for approximately 8-10 hours a day, but it can usually live with less. Because of this, some growers call it a low-light plant, and it’s pretty common to find it in an office or hospital lobby. 

But if you want a plant that thrives, bright, indirect light is your go-to.

Too much light and the leaves may appear translucent or faded. If you don’t have enough light, its stems will thin, the growth rate will slow, and you may see faded leaf color.

If you’re worried your Calathea makoyana or other houseplants aren’t getting enough light, you may need to move them closer to a window or consider using grow lights

Honestly, though, it’s more common for growers to overwhelm their Calathea with bright light or direct light. If you only have south-facing windows, consider moving your plant further away – or use curtains to make the light less intense. 

The most important advice is to avoid putting your Calathea makoyana in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.

Fertilizer

During this plant’s growing season – the spring to fall – fertilize your Peacock Plant once a month using a basic water-soluble fertilizer – at half strength – that has an NPK of 3-1-2.

In the non-growing seasons, when plant development naturally slows, you typically don’t need as much fertilizer – or any at all.

Propagating Calathea makoyana Through Division

Propagating a Peacock plant can be done through the division of the root system. First, take the plant out of the pot. You want to make sure that each plant has at least one stem with one healthy leaf. Using a sterile pruning tool, cut through the roots attaching the plants. If you can unwrap the roots without significant cutting, this is preferable.

From there, repot each new plant in a separate pot. Water the new cuttings until water drains out of the pot. At this point, you should aim to increase the humidity. Set up a humidifier next to the new plants (use distilled water  or rainwater for this, if possible)

You can technically propagate this plant with stem cuttings and seeds, but this is a pretty uncommon (and not necessarily easy) way of producing more Calathea makoyana.

How to propagate Calathea makoyana by division

Temperature

Your Peacock Plant prefers temperate climates, and it can thrive in a temperature range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (this is usually considered room temperature). You could probably go lower with the temperature, but this may impede the growth. 

That said, they like a constant temperature, so keep them away from vents and cold drafts that may cause inconsistency in the climate.

Humidity And Aeration

Calathea makoyana or prayer plant is a beautiful plant that wants moderate-to-high humidity– often at 60% or more.

If you’re concerned about your humidity or if you see brown edges on your plants, consider these options for creating a humid environment.

  • Place your pots on a tray with an inch of pebbles and water. This is called a pebble tray.
  • Group your houseplants to create a more humid microclimate through transpiration.
  • Mist your plants (only do this at the roots – don’t overdo it.)
  • Place a humidifier next to the plant. It’s a good idea to use tepid, distilled water, when possible.

Does Calathea makoyana Flower?

Makoyana is a beautiful houseplant, but it’s known for its ornate and delicate leaves – not its flowers. While the Peacock Plant does produce small white flowers throughout the year, they are pretty insignificant. 

Personally, though, I still think it’s nice to see a small pop of white color on the plant. 

Non-Toxic

According to the ASPCA, this prayer plant is not considered toxic to humans, dogs, horses, or cats! This means it’s a great option to place in your home, whether you have fur-babies or not! That said, some cats think that Calathea plants are a tasty snack.

So you may need to keep it away from feline friends. 

Are you struggling to keep your cats out of plants? We’ve got you.

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

Is your Calathea makoyana looking ill? Most would say that the prayer plant is a relatively disease and pest-resistant plant, but it has some fungus issues and a few pests.

In the following sections, I’ve provided the common issues that still affect this stunning plant. Use these tips to help diagnose and treat your Calathea makoyana.

Alternaria Leaf Spot

Small, water-soaked lesions signify that your Calathea makoyana might have an Alternaria leaf spot or blight. These lesions then turn a brownish-red color and start to look like a small circle.

This is usually caused by overwatering, specifically that you’ve been watering the leaves instead of the roots – or overdoing it with a mister or humidifier. You can generally control this leaf spot by just keeping your leaves dry. 

If it’s spreading, though, you should consider using a fungicide. There are also some preventative sprays available, but you really don’t need that unless your Calathea (or other houseplants) have a history of leaf spot.

Helminthosporium leaf spot (Drechslera setariae)

This leaf spot is a pretty big problem for Calathea producers and nurseries. It also produces lesions, although more prominent than those created by Alternaria – up to 1/2 inch wide.

To control this fungus, it’s of great importance that you minimize the amount of time your leaves are wet. Similarly, fungicides can be used for this leaf spot.

Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum)

You usually see fusarium wilt when a Calathea has been propagated from cuttings in soil. The lower leaves and base of the plant may start to rot, wilt, and turn yellow.

A more mature plant may start to look wilt-y and have brownish, yellow leaves.

The tricky part about this disease is that it looks like many other issues – overwatering, underwatering, etc. I recommend you reach out to a local extension agent (a free service that each state has) and ask them to help you diagnose it.

To treat fusarium wilt, you need to use a fungicide on the stems and the roots. Remove the plant from the soil, and drench its roots. I want to make sure you do this the right way, so please start with this in-depth article on treating this wilt.

Spider Mites

Spider mites could potentially be unwelcome visitors to your home. The larvae will not be visible, but the little mites will. During the larval stage, neem can help eradicate them. Home growers can also use an organic pyrethrin spray to get rid of these annoyances.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are tiny insects that feed on organic material in the soil, potting mix, and other container media. Their larvae eat fungus and organic materials in the soil, but they also devour roots, which is bad news for your Calathea makoyana.

Hydrogen peroxide kills fungus gnat larvae on touch, making it a rapid and practical approach to get rid of them. Soak your soil in a solution made up of four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide.

There are several products available that target the larva or adult stages, but either is fine. You should be able to exterminate these pesky plant flies in just a few weeks if you efficiently target one stage of their life cycle and reapply frequently.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves on a Calathea might indicate a number of things. It usually means that your plant is receiving too much light and should be relocated to a location with less direct sunlight. 

If it doesn’t work, it’s possible that your plant isn’t getting enough moisture from the soil. To better nurture these tropical beauties, you may need to water more frequently or adjust your soil mix.

Scale Insects

Scale insects might look like lumps on plant stems or branches. The small bugs, which come in green, gray, brown, and black colors, usually stay put once they’ve latched on to a plant.

You can use a teaspoon of neem oil in water to help keep new scale insects from attacking your plant if your infestation isn’t too bad — on a single plant or part of a single plant.

While neem oil or horticulture oils will not kill everything, they will certainly cause some damage. Another alternative is to introduce scale insect predators, such as the dreaded ladybug.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs can potentially infest your Calathea makoyana too. The bugs will fall off your plant if you take a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol and rub it over the leaves and stem. Similar to scale, Neem oil mixed with water can also be used as a preventative spray.

Brown Leaf Tips

If the tops of your Peacock plant begin to brown or look burnt, it could be because it is getting too much sunlight – or because your home isn’t humid enough.

You may need to adjust your plant’s placement or invest in a humidifier to keep it happy.

Drooping Leaves

This can be caused by mealybugs, which are known to impact the Calathea makoyana. Overwatering and fertilization concerns might also contribute to these troubles.

Yellow Leaves

A Peacock Plant can turn yellow due to a variety of circumstances. It could be because it does not receive enough sunlight or receives too much or too little water.

Yellow leaves should be trimmed to promote new growth and to keep degeneration from spreading. Yellow leaves can be unappealing as well. Assuming you have other healthy leaves, simply pluck or clip the yellowing ones with a sharp, sterile pair of shears.

Calathea Makoyana Roots by Indoor Garden Nook

Root Rot

Avoiding excessive wetness or dryness in the soil is the most important aspect of caring for Calathea makoyana. Root rot and other fungal diseases and bacterial infections can be caused by an excessive amount of moisture in the soil.

To keep a healthy Peacock plant, you must provide it with adequate hydration. If you provide it with too much moisture, the plant may succumb to any number of diseases that could otherwise be introduced. It is also vitally necessary to ensure that the soil is well-aerated, which improves drainage.

New Leaves Are Too Light

If you notice that new leaves or young leaves are a pale green color, it could be a sign that you don’t have enough fertilizer. Consider using a foliar spray that has nitrogen and iron nutrients. This should improve the coloring in a couple of weeks.

Similar Plants

We love the Calathea makoyana, but there are so many beautiful Calathea to choose from. Here are some of our favorites:

Calathea ‘Beauty Star’ – The Calathea ‘Beauty Star’ plant, which also gets lumped into the category of Peacock Plant from time to time, is an herbaceous perennial with oblong green leaves and silver stripes. 

Calathea ornata – The Pinstripe plant, often known as the Pinstripe plant, is distinguished by its brilliantly colored leaves with white/silver lines or pink stripes.

Calathea orbifolia – Like the makoyana, there is some debate about whether this should be termed Goeppertia orbifolia – but most nurseries continue to call it Calathea. It features vast, oval green leaves with white streaks.

Calathea crocata is a one-of-a-kind Calathea with gorgeous orange/yellow flowers, known as the Eternal Flame. It has almost metallic green foliage with purple undersides, although its leaves aren’t as elaborate as those of other Calathea cultivars.

Calathea zebrina – The zebrina resembles the ‘Beauty Star’ but has green stripes instead of white silver stripes. Because of its distinctive stripes, it is also known as the zebra plant.

Conclusion

If you love striking foliage, we highly recommend you check out the Calathea makoyana. It’s pretty easy to grow, it’s not toxic to pets, and it has the most unique leaf design. We definitely recommend this beautiful tropical flora.

Are you growing Calathea makoyana? We really want to see it! Please send any pictures to devri@twopeasinacondo.com, and we might highlight them on our blog!

Can’t get enough plant guides? Check out these other options below.

Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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