Ultimate Guide To Grow And Care For Calathea Plants Indoors

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Calathea plants, with their vibrant foliage and unique patterns, add a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor space.

As someone who appreciates the beauty of plants, I am captivated by the intricate leaves of the Calathea genus.

In this post, we are focusing on how to successfully grow and care for Calathea plants indoors.

First, we will explore an overview of the Calathea genus and its distinctive characteristics that make it stand out among other houseplants.

Then, we will discuss how to provide proper care to ensure their health and longevity.

Let’s jump right in!

Overview of the Calathea genus and its unique characteristics

Potted Calathea orbifolia plant
Photo: Eva Peters

Calathea, a genus of tropical flowering plants, displays unique characteristics that make it stand out among other plants.

These plants are known for their vibrant foliage and intricate patterns on their leaves.

They belong to the Marantaceae family and thrive in warm indoor environments.

Calathea plants are characterized by their large, broad leaves with striking patterns and colors.

The foliage often features various shades of green, along with patterns such as stripes or marbling.

The leaves of Calathea have the ability to move throughout the day, adjusting their position according to light conditions.

This phenomenon, known as nyctinasty, allows the plant to optimize sunlight absorption and conserve energy.

Check out: Expert Tips On How To Care For Calathea Triostar At Home

Light Requirements for Calathea

Calathea plants have a distinct preference for the presence of filtered light or shade.

They thrive in environments where their exposure to direct sunlight is limited, mimicking the natural conditions of their native habitats.

Providing proper calathea plant care indoors requires you to position the plant to receive proper lighting.

Here are five key points to keep in mind for providing the right light conditions:

  1. Choose a location with indirect or filtered light: Place them near a north-facing window or use sheer curtains to help filter the light.
  2. Consider artificial lighting options: If you cannot provide sufficient natural light, use fluorescent or LED grow lights.
  3. Adjust the plant’s position based on seasonal changes: As the intensity and angle of sunlight change throughout the year, relocate your Calathea plant.
  4. Observe leaf behavior as an indicator: If your Calathea’s leaves become faded or discolored, it may be a sign that they are receiving too much direct sunlight.
  5. Strike a balance between light and shade: It is important not to overdo shading. Find the balance between light and shade to promote healthy growth.

Also Read Growing and Caring for Your Calathea Orbifolia Indoor Plant

Soil and Watering for Calathea

Calathea plants prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, which is slightly acidic to neutral.

To achieve the ideal soil conditions for Calathea plants, it is recommended to use a well-draining potting mix or create a mixture of equal parts peat moss, perlite, and compost.

This combination provides the right balance of moisture retention and aeration which contributes to the calathea plant receiving proper care indoors.

Maintaining consistently moist soil is crucial for Calathea plants, but overwatering should be avoided as it can lead to root rot and other problems.

It is important to check the moisture level of the soil regularly by touching the top inch with your finger. If it feels dry, it’s time to water the plant.

Another tip for watering Calathea plants is to use filtered or distilled water that is free from chlorine or other chemicals.

Temperature and Humidity for Calathea

The temperature range for Calathea plants’ thriving

Calathea plants thrive within a specific temperature range. Maintaining the right temperature is crucial in providing proper care indoors.

  • They prefer temperatures that range between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) during the day.
  • At night, they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures of around 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C).
  • Avoid exposing Calathea plants to temperature extremes, as it can cause damage and hinder their growth.
  • In colder climates, provide additional warmth by placing Calathea plants near heating sources or using heating pads beneath their pots.
  • Similarly, in hotter climates, shield them from direct sunlight and ensure adequate airflow to prevent overheating.
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature within this ideal range will provide the best conditions for Calathea plants’ care indoors.

Importance of sufficient humidity for Calathea plants

Sufficient humidity ensures proper growth and vibrant beauty in these plants.

Without enough moisture in the air, Calathea plants may suffer from dryness, which can lead to wilting leaves and stunted growth.

These tropical plants naturally thrive in high-humidity environments, such as rainforests.

When grown indoors, replicating this ideal level of humidity is essential for their overall well-being.

To increase humidity around your Calathea plant, you can mist its leaves regularly with distilled water, use a humidifier, or place a tray filled with water and pebbles nearby to create a moist environment.

Fertilizing Calathea

Calathea roseopicta plant indoors
Photo: Zloyel

When it comes to fertilizing Calathea plants, you should consider monthly fertilizer application, choosing the right balanced fertilizer, and the necessary adjustments needed in fertilization during the winter months.

Monthly fertilizer application for luscious growth

Calathea plants require regular monthly fertilizer application.

This is essential for providing the necessary nutrients and maintaining the health of the plant.

Here’s a simple 3-step guide for monthly fertilizer application to ensure luscious growth:

  1. Choose the right balanced fertilizer: Select a fertilizer specifically formulated for indoor plants, ideally with equal ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
  2. Dilute and apply monthly: Dilute the fertilizer according to package instructions, as over-fertilizing can damage Calathea plants. Apply this diluted solution to your Calathea plant once a month during its active growing season, typically from spring through summer.
  3. Avoid fertilizing during dormant periods: Calathea plants have a natural dormancy period during late fall and winter when their growth slows down. During this time, it’s crucial to reduce or halt fertilization.

While caring for your Calathea plant indoors, it’s important to monitor its response to fertilization.

If you notice signs of over-fertilization such as burnt leaf tips or yellowing leaves, reduce the frequency or concentration of fertilizer accordingly.

Choosing the right balanced fertilizer for Calathea plants

Calathea plants require a balanced fertilizer to ensure healthy growth and vibrant beauty.

Here are some key points to consider when choosing the right fertilizer:

  1. Nutrient balance: Look for a fertilizer that provides a balanced mix of essential nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  2. Slow-release formula: Opt for a slow-release fertilizer that gradually releases nutrients over time.
  3. Organic options: Consider using organic fertilizers that are derived from natural sources, such as compost or animal manure.
  4. Liquid vs. granular fertilizers: Decide whether you prefer using liquid or granular fertilizers.
  5. pH requirements: Check the pH requirements of the Calathea plants before selecting a fertilizer. Some varieties prefer slightly acidic soil, while others thrive in neutral or alkaline conditions.
  6. Avoid overfertilization: It’s important not to overfertilize Calathea plants as it can lead to nutrient toxicity and damage their delicate root system.

Adjusting fertilization during the winter months

During the winter months, when Calathea plants experience lower light levels and reduced growth rates, it is essential to modify their fertilization regimen.

Decreasing both the frequency and strength of fertilizers will allow for more balanced nutrient uptake by the plants.

While they still require some nutrients during this time, providing excessive amounts can lead to root burn or nutrient buildup in the soil.

Types of Calathea

Two types of calathea plants

When it comes to the different types of Calathea, the options are diverse and fascinating.

Let’s take a look at these varieties and their unique characteristics.

  • Silver-green striped Calathea: This species displays striking silver-green stripes on its leaves, adding a touch of elegance to any indoor space.
  • Peacock plant with multi-colored leaves: The peacock plant boasts vibrant and colorful foliage, with patterns resembling the feathers of a peacock.
  • Pinstripe plant with deep green leaves and pink stripes: This particular Calathea features deep green leaves adorned with delicate pink stripes.

Minimal pruning requirements for Calathea plants

Calathea plants have minimal pruning requirements.

Follow these steps to ensure proper pruning:

  1. Remove any brown or wilted leaves using sterilized pruning shears.
  2. Trim back any overgrown or leggy stems to encourage compact growth.
  3. Cut off spent flowers or blooms to redirect the plant’s energy towards new growth.
  4. Regularly inspect the plant for any signs of pests or diseases and prune affected areas accordingly.

By following these simple pruning techniques, you can keep your Calathea plants looking their best while promoting new growth and overall health.

Propagating Calathea

Root division is a highly effective method for propagating Calathea plants.

By dividing the root system, each new plant receives the necessary nutrients and resources to thrive independently.

Here is a 6-step guide on how to perform root division as the most successful propagation method for Calathea:

  1. Start by selecting a mature and healthy Calathea plant with multiple stems and a well-developed root system.
  2. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
  3. Gently separate the roots into individual sections, ensuring that each section has enough roots and healthy foliage.
  4. Trim any damaged or rotting roots with a clean pair of pruning shears.
  5. Prepare separate pots with well-draining soil, filling them approximately halfway.
  6. Plant each divided section in its own pot, making sure that the roots are adequately covered with soil, and gently press down to secure them.

It’s important to note that root division should be done during the active growing season when the plant is actively producing new foliage.

Growing Calathea from Seed

Starting Calathea plants from seeds offers an opportunity to save costs compared to purchasing mature plants.

Starting Calathea plants from seeds can be done by following these three simple steps:

  1. Seed Selection: Choose high-quality Calathea seeds from a reputable source or collect them yourself if you have access to a mature plant.
  2. Germination: Start by filling a seed tray or shallow container with moist, well-draining soil and place the selected seeds on the surface. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, ensuring they are evenly distributed. Keep the tray in a warm location with indirect sunlight, ideally between 70-75°F (21-24°C). Maintain consistent moisture levels by misting the soil regularly.
  3. Care and Transplantation: Once the seeds have germinated and grown into seedlings with multiple sets of leaves, carefully transplant them into individual pots using a well-draining potting mix. Provide bright but indirect light along with consistent humidity levels. Water regularly but avoid overwatering, ensuring that excess water drains away properly.


Calathea plants can thrive indoors if provided with proper care.

By implementing these care tips and fostering an environment that mimics their native habitats, you can nurture indoor Calatheas to reach their full potential, displaying a magnificent combination of healthy growth and vibrant beauty.

Start applying the recommended care practices today, and be rewarded with a stunning display of nature’s beauty right at your fingertips.


How do I care for a Calathea indoors?

To care for Calatheas indoors, you need to provide specific conditions. They prefer filtered light or shade, loamy or humusy soil, and consistently moist (but not soggy) soil. They thrive in temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and require humidity levels of 50% and higher.

When should I prune my Calathea plant?

Calathea plants do not require regular pruning. The only maintenance involved in this aspect is to trim off brown, wilted leaves as they naturally die off. This is mainly done for aesthetic purposes, as the leaves will eventually fall off on their own.

What is the typical size of a Calathea plant?

Calatheas typically grow to about 1-2 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide. They don’t take up much space, making them suitable for various homes and gardens.

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