Maranta and Calathea are plants that are part of the Marantaceae family, characterized by the splendid colors and motifs of their leaves. They are also called ‘prayer plants’ due to the peculiar nocturnal movement when it closes by collecting all the leaves. It is a perennial plant that we can enjoy throughout the year, we immediately see in detail how to take care of Calathea.
How to take care of Calathea
Although some varieties of Calathea give flowers, they are grown mainly for their beautifully designed leaves.
There is a secret to successfully growing calathea and maranta: giving priority to their location, they prefer places where they get a lot of light and maintain high ambient humidity.
Although they are plants that grow in the rainforest undergrowth, inside our homes they like a position with high brightness. Keep this in mind if, a few days after arriving home, you notice changes in the leaves or limited growth: it may need a change of position and more light.
As regards instead the temperature suitable for its growth, it is a plant that appreciates warm environments and develops without problems between 16º and 30º C. During the summer we can also grow it outside, as long as it is out of range direct sunlight. In winter, it is best to avoid very cold environments or drafts (such as those that come from opening windows to ventilate the house).
Soil and transplant
It grows without problems in universal or specific soils for green plants. It prefers a light soil without excess water. As we will see in the section on irrigation, it needs very humid environments, which we can favor by placing a saucer with a little water. We, therefore, recommend using volcanic stone or expanded clay on the bottom of the pot, it will isolate the soil and the plant from the water contained in the saucer.
The best time for transplanting in spring. Choose a slightly larger pot and use the moment to divide it if you want to get new seedlings. Being a rhizomatous plant, we will have to look for the small bulbs from which the leaves sprout in the soil. It is also possible to reproduce by cutting, always cutting under a node, from which future roots will grow.
The Calathea leaves must be cleaned with a damp cloth to eliminate dust particles and limescale stains due to the water used in the spraying. In the image, my latest purchase: a Calathea mosaic with which I fell in love.
It likes regular watering to keep the soil moist. During the summer every two or three days, while in winter it passes 6 or 7 days apart.
It is important to clarify that moist soil does not mean soaked in water. Calathea prefers high humidity over wet roots.
And this is where we find the most common problem in their care: the lack of humidity. If the tips of the leaves start to turn brown and dry, the plant needs more moisture.
We, therefore, have two options: take it to the kitchen or bathroom to spray it with water every day, or place a saucer with water under the plant. It is important that the water is not in direct contact with the base of the pot, which could absorb it by capillarity. Usually, vermiculite, pebbles or decorative stones are used, on which to place the vase. Check the contents regularly to see if you need to add water.
Calathea zebrina or zebra plant. Its leaves are opaque and velvety, beautiful!
Like most plants, they like the regular use of liquid fertilizer for indoor plants. In spring, summer, and autumn approximately every 15 days, while in winter once a month.
If you live in an area with cold autumns, it is better to start to distance the fertilization while the temperatures drop.
How to prevent the curling of the leaves of Calathea and Maranta
Calathea and Maranta need high environmental humidity, in its absence, the leaves tend to curve inwards. We must interpret this curl as a clear sign of lack of irrigation or moisture. Before spraying water on the leaves, check if the plant needs water. Sink your index finger slightly into the soil or lift the plant to check its weight. If it seems light, the soil is probably dry and therefore needs to be watered.