PRO TIP: Calathea have very expressive foliage, and will begin to curl inwards when the plant is thirsty. It's best to feel the soil if the leaves begin to curl and water if it's dry. Calathea bounce back very quickly from underwatering.
Though they come in all different styles and shapes, the oblong, braid patterned leaves are what earn the most commonly found variety of Calatheas (Calathea lancifolia) its nickname: The Rattlesnake plant.
Place your Calathea where it will receive bright indirect light, and watch its leaves move up and down with the sun! Make sure to avoid direct sunlight though, as this will scorch the delicate leaves.
If you are unsure about the lighting conditions in your home or office, read our guide for how to measure light in your space.
The leaves of a Calathea change their spread and angle throughout the day depending on the orientation of the sun. Don’t be startled if you catch it moving out of the corner of your eye.
PRO TIP: Keep your Calathea away from hot and cold air drafts. This includes window breezes, heaters, and air conditioning. Maintain a temperature between 70 and 85 degrees fahrenheit. Supplemental humidity is highly beneficial to keeping Calatheas looking their best.
Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering.
Calathea prefer soil that is consistently evenly moist at all times but not soggy. If the top 2” of the soil become dry then your plant is ready to be watered. If you let the soil dry out too much, you may see browning, yellowing, or curling leaves, but don’t fear. These plants are hardy and can bounce back after a good drink! Too much water can also result in root rot, so consistency and moderation are key.
Native rainforest dwellers, Calathea appreciate added humidity from a humidifier, pebble tray, or regular misting.
Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my Calathea’s leaves drooping?
- Wilting or drooping leaves is typically a result of the plant being thirsty. However, the leaves of this plant move up and down following the light, so be sure to feel the soil to ensure you're not mistaking your Calathea's natural movement for needing a drink before giving your plant water.
The edges of my plant's leaves are turning yellow and brown. What can I do?
- Most often this is caused by inconsistent watering. With Calathea, yellowing and browning can be both signs of over and underwatering. Be sure to read over the care instructions and see if anything in your care regimen needs adjusting. Often just checking the soil more frequently to find a rhythm with your plant will produce the best results.
Why is my Calathea losing the saturation in its leaves?
- This is most likely caused by too much direct sunlight. Calathea love bright light, but it must be ambient light or else the leaves will lose their color and eventually burn.
How often should I fertilize my plant?
- In general, houseplants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.
How often does my plant need to be repotted?
- For smaller desktop plants, we suggest repotting once every 12-18 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 1”- 2” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plant's roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time for repotting as the plant is at its strongest.
Standard Planter Instructions
There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery Unlimited—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within these two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.
Plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of Aeration Stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled clay) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest slowly pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.
For plants potted with drainage, water until the excess begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.
Self Watering Container Instructions
The self-watering containers require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, before testing the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for up to ten weeks.
TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches half way between the MAX and MIN line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir.
RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.
From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir. You may opt for adding fresh soil into the gaps between the soil and planter, so as to give the plant a nutrient boost. You may annually, or bi annually, top water the plant to flush the foot system. Only do so when the reservoir is empty and the plant is ready for more water.
Step 1: Top water for four to ten weeks. The indicator will look empty, like the picture above.
Step 2: Fill the reservoir until the red indicator reaches the MAX line.
Step 3: Watch the indicator over the next day or two. If it goes down on its own, it means the roots of the plant have grown into the reservoir. From here on out, ONLY water into the reservoir.
Aeration Stones promote healthy root growth by creating air pockets in the soil and absorbing excess water in the basin of your planter. These porous clay stones are a natural, efficient and invaluable material to set your plant up for success. We always suggest using these when working with a planter without drainage holes.
We've tried countless pruners over the years, and none surpass the ARS. Our team uses these pruners daily for all manor of indoor and outdoor plant work and we'll never go back to another brand.
Neem Oil is an all purpose insecticide, miticide, and fungicide used for organic gardening. It's systemic, which means the plant will absorb the neem oil into its circulatory system and poison pests from within. Be careful not to overuse, as this can weaken plants and cause discoloration.
Plants do poorly without air to the roots. Overwatering causes the air to be pushed out of the soil, compacting the soil around the waterlogged roots of the plant. Using the Soil Probe aerates the soil as it checks for moisture.
Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes, and the perfect one for your home is the one you're happiest living with. Look for long spouts and a container volume that's appropriate for your plant collection.
Fox Farm Ocean Forest contains all the features we look for when aiming to ensure the long term health of a plant: excellent water retention, breathability, texture, and is made from organic materials.
10-4-3 fertilizer is a great, gentle choice for indoor foliage. Simply mix this in to your watering can using the supplied directions every other week. Ensure that your plant is receiving a good amount of light, otherwise it won't have the energy to process the nutrients and burnt tips may occur on the foliage.