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The Calathea Plant Guide: Why You Need It in Your Indoor Garden

Are you looking for a pot plant with decorative leaves and easy care? Then, the calathea plant is one you should consider. It has over 60 varieties, some more readily accessible than others. This stunning calathea plant is one of the most popular plants you can collect. 

The rhythmic pattern of their foliage leaves folding up in the evening, and opening up has earned them the term “prayer plant.” This patterning is also a distinctive characteristic of all types of Calathea.

Origin And Native Uses

Calathea is a genus comprised of about 60 different species. Each species has its unique characteristics. They could be in terms of leaf color, behavioral pattern, feeding mode, growth conditions, etc.

They belong to the Marantaceae family of plants. They are also known as the “prayer plant family.” Calathea plants hail natively from the jungles of the Amazon in South America.

These plants grow under the cover of dense trees. These trees form a canopy inches off the ground. This canopy absorbs most of the light from the sun, with only a small amount reaching the depths where Calathea plants grow. 

Calathea also has significant uses in their native regions; people use it to wrap food and make small pouches for carrying items. The width of their leaves also made them good aeration tools in native areas. Their leaves are also an excellent raw material for weaving baskets.

Why Is The Calathea Such A Stunner? 

One feature that makes these prayer plants very popular is the distinct feature of their leaves.

These leaves come in different shapes and sizes. They can be wavy, ridged, oval-shaped, or pointy. The leaves also have a vast area that allows them to catch enough light when they open up in the mornings.

They have different colors. Some have different shades of green, others can have darker colors like purple and brown, and some species can have bright colors like orange. This characteristic makes them very good for your home decor.

Calathea And Their Symbolic Meaning 

Apart from their eye-catching appearance, these plants are emblematic. The inspiration for the statement “to turn over a new leaf” is the dramatic opening and closing of Calathea leaves. Therefore, it symbolizes a new beginning and hope. It is the perfect gift for someone with a fresh start, a new neighbor, the start of a new level in school, etc.

Why They Are Perfect For Your Garden

Calathea thrives in low light, which is similar to their native environment. Their leaves are broad enough to absorb enough light for survival. The color of their leaves brightens up your space effortlessly. They are also very easy to care for and propagate.

How To Care For Them

Despite the varying qualities of the species, most Calathea plants have similar care needs. Some of these essential growth requirements are:


Unlike other plants, Calathea plants do not need direct sunlight to grow. These stem from their native origins in the Amazon. Most of the light directly from the sun hits the canopy of the tall trees first, and then bits of it fall on the calathea at the base of the trees. Their leaves are adapted to capture just enough for them to grow. 


The correct temperature is very key for the growth of your Calathea plant. They thrive in mild temperatures, usually between the range of 65F and 85F. Temperatures below or above this range can lead to shock for the plant and may eventually lead to its death. So when cultivating your prayer plant, make sure to place them in areas that are cool and airy.


Most plants require water to survive. The quantities may vary, but water is significant for the survival of plants. Calathea is a plant that thrives with low amounts of water. Distilled or purified water is best for watering. If you use this kind of water, it limits the possibility of infection in the plant. The soil only has to be moist, not soggy. Excessive watering can choke the roots, hence damaging the plant. In cases of over-watering, drain out the excess water immediately.

Potting Mix 

The right potting mix is essential for your Calathea plant to bloom successfully. It must have the appropriate ingredients in sufficient amounts. It must be a well-draining mix. It must have great moisture retention and provide nutrients to the plant. Here is an essential mix you can try out; 20% African potting soil, 40% coarse perlite, and 40% coconut coir.

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $13.37 ($0.03 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $16.28 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix,...image Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, Enriched with Plant Food, 2 cu. ft. $34.26
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Humidity Level

Calatheas do very well in conditions with higher humidity. They can also tolerate the average home humidity. It’s important to increase the humidity levels in your home when growing these plants indoors. Do this by placing a humidifier close to the plant or placing your plant on a moist pebble tray. 


Calatheas do need fertilizer for their growth, but a small amount will boost plant growth and appearance. For best results, apply fertilizer during growth and flowering. A standard houseplant fertilizer will suffice. 


Pruning comes in handy when old leaves dry up or turn yellow or brown. They discolor the look of the whole plant and are not great for interior aesthetics. You should remove it as soon as you see it. 

A calathea plant can grow as tall as three feet and as wide as two feet. 

Now that you know the basic growth requirements to grow your Calathea plant, here are some types you can consider buying and growing at home.

Popular Types Of Calathea to Grow At Home

The following are some of the most popular kinds of Calathea to grow at home:

Calathea Orbifolia
  • Calathea orbifolia

It is commonly known as a round-leaf plant. This species of Calathea is one of the largest in the genus. Its leaves grow to be more than one foot across. The leaves have a glossy silvery look. They originate from the rainforests of Bolivia. You should always try to maintain the soil’s moisture when growing at home. Soil shouldn’t be soggy or swampy. Drain out excess water. It loves high-humidity conditions. One way to increase the humidity levels in your home or garden is to use a humidifier. The optimum room temperature is around 70°F. It would help if you kept it in an area with moderate light and good shade.

  • Calathea zebrina

This plant’s distinctive leaves show conspicuous stripes on both sides. Depending on the region, these stripes range in color from white to pink or yellow. It is native to South America too. It does best in environments as similar as possible to those in its native region. It is a bit picky and requires extra attention to grow it to full term. Commonly known as the Zebra plant, it can grow to be about three to four feet tall and wide. It needs high humidity (about 60% to 70%), decent shade, and warm temperatures.

calathea ornata
  • Calathea ornata

Also known as Pin-Striped Calathea, this species, though attractive, is very picky and delicate. Its leaves are decorated with pinkish-white pinstripe rows on a dark green background. The pinstripes look a little different on the undersides of the leaves, giving them a burgundy hue. The essential elements for the growth of this species are moderate temperatures, high humidity levels, and regular watering.

  • Calathea roseopicta

It is popularly known as Rose-Painted Calathea. The species is characterized by leaves highlighted with splashes of pink along their veins. This coloration makes it very attractive and an excellent option for your home decor. It is easy to care for, only needing the basic requirements to grow well. The plant should not be in direct sunlight. It enjoys typical indoor temperatures and moderate humidity levels. A native of northwestern Brazil, the rose-painted plant tops the list of the best Calathea plants for your home.

calathea makoyana
  • Calathea makoyana

The Peacock plant, as it is popularly called, is lush with ornate leaves. Each leaf has a feature of a creamy white background. It has dark green marks arranged alternatively from the center line to the edges of the leaves. The undersides have the same pattern but in a vibrant purple or pink hue. The colored lines move from the centerline of the leaf to the edges.

Catering to this species is a little difficult. You have to be extra careful and attentive when grooming it. It also requires warm and stable temperatures. High humidity levels are essential for growth. Application of fertilizer should be regular. The right amount of indirect sunlight will let your plant bloom fully. 


This species is one of the few with wavy edges on the leaves. Many people refer to it as the Rattlesnake plant. This is because of the striking pattern on the leaves of the plant. This pattern is similar to that of the peacock plant, but its leaves are longer and slimmer. The leaves have a distinguishing bright green color, decorated with dark green marks. Each mark follows the leaf venation and alternates its centerline. The abaxial sides of the leaves are pigmented in a deep shade of aubergine. These colored sides are evident when the leaves fold up at night. 

They thrive in slightly warmer temperatures (70°F to 85°F) and higher humidity. It is a native of Brazil and can grow to be about two feet tall if cared for excellently.

  • Calathea musaica

Calathea musaica may appear as a regular plant with green leaves. But, if you look at it closely, you will notice that the leaves have a trail of lines interwoven like a web. These lines are intricately connected. They form intermittent rectangles and squares in different shades of green. It is commonly known as The Network Calathea and truly is a work of art. It is also native to South America, Brazil, precisely. Regarding care, it loves warm indoor temperatures and above-average humidity levels.

Calathea Crocata
  • Calathea crocata

The yellowish-orange whorl of petals of this Calathea has earned it the name “Eternal Flame plant.” The flower has spiky-shaped leaves and can be in bloom for as long as three months. Its foliage is beautiful, with green stripes on the upper part of the leaf and dark purple on the lower part. It thrives in a warm, temperate, and humid environment. Caring for this Calathea is easy. It needs a good amount of sunlight and moderate watering. Regular application of a standard houseplant fertilizer can allow it to bloom well. 

  • Calathea wiotii 

The leaves of this Calathea are broad and oval-shaped. They have alternating stripes of a dark shade of green against a light green background. Like most Calathea, it is native to Brazil and its environs. A distinct feature of this species is that it is one of the few that can adapt to slightly cooler temperatures.

It loves highly humid living conditions and average in-house temperatures. The potting mix should be a well-draining, sandy and loamy one.

  • Calathea loeseneri 

The Brazilian Star Calathea has fewer elaborate leaves than other members of the genus. Its foliage is lush and produces light pink flowers that blossom on the stems. The flowers are star-shaped after they reach maturity. It thrives in moderate temperatures and high humidity levels and requires bright indirect sunlight to grow fully. It is also a native of Brazil.

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