Calatheas: The Fabulous Foliage Houseplant

It’s all about the leaves (aka foliage) when you grow Calathea! Prized for its fabulous leaves painted in rich colors and interesting patterns, it’s hard to decide a favorite. That’s a good excuse to buy several that strike your fancy!

 

Helpful tips for growing Calathea successfully:

 

  • H2O: Water thoroughly until it drains out the bottom of the pot, then allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings. Feel the soil several inches below the surface for soil moisture. If it’s moist, do not water. Avoid overwatering that creates wet, saturated soil conditions. Even if the plant should wilt, a quick soaking should rejuvenate it (don’t let this become a regular prac­tice). If it’s kept too wet, leaves will die, and root rot can develop. Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole so excessive water can escape. Calatheas do well where there is available humidity; use a pebble tray.

 

  • Medium light is best but will tolerate lower light (that doesn’t mean no light). Direct, intense sun will cause the leaves to ‘sunburn.’

 

  • Keep temperatures in the 65-to-75-degree F range. Avoid temperatures below 60 degrees F. Keep plants away from drafts and frosty windowpanes in winter.

 

  • Fertilizer requirements: read and follow the directions on the fertilizer label for frequency and rates. Fertilize March through early November, then allow plants to ‘rest’ a bit during the winter months.

 

Calatheas can be used in outside shady planters after Memorial Day. A word to the wise – never use in full sun locations. Their attractive foliage provides an unexpected ‘wow’ factor! Peek underneath… the undersides of the leaves can also be attractive! Calatheas do flower but they pale in comparison to their foliage. As soon as temperatures begin to cool in late September, bring plants back indoors.

 

Use Calatheas as tabletop plants, in large terrariums or dish gardens, or larger specimens as floor plants. Outside in planters, hanging baskets, window boxes.