Calathea are popular perennial plants that are usually used as indoor houseplants because they can thrive in low light levels. They have colorful leaves that brighten up the home and garden. But, how should you decorate with different types of calathea?
You can decorate with different types of Calathea by understanding the different types of this plant that are available, and ensuring that you care for them to make them look their best. Some of the most beautiful varieties include Calathea orbifolia, Calathea makoyana, and Calathea roseopicta.
In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know about Calathea, looking at their origin, requirements, and challenges, as well as discussing some of the best Calathea types to add to your home.
What Is Calathea?
Calathea are tropical plants that are known for their decorative leaves, which can be green or combined with other colors, striped, or beautifully veined. Calathea come from the Marantaceae plant family and are sometimes called “zebra plants” or “prayer plants”.
Plants in this family are known for their ability to move their leaves during the night and then lower them during the day according to a circadian rhythm. This enables the plants to track the movement of the sun so that they get the light that they need.
Native to south and central America, Calathea plants are commonly found in jungle areas. They thrive in areas of low sunlight and tend to live underneath tree canopies. Their ability to live in low-light conditions is one of the reasons why Calathea are low-maintenance plants.
Challenges With Tropical Plants
Tropical plants can be challenging to grow in some climates because they usually require high levels of humidity and sunshine. But, this isn’t the case with all tropical plants. Some can thrive with less of these elements, and Calathea are an example of such plants.
Calathea require a warm area of the home or garden, but they don’t want to be in direct sunlight. The light should be bright, but indirect. Keeping these plants in bright light can cause their leaves to lose their gorgeous colors. Aim to give your Calathea about eight hours of bright, indirect light daily. Some varieties can tolerate shaded areas of the home.
When it comes to Calathea’s humidity requirements, these plants want at least 50% humidity. Keeping your Calathea indoors will require you to install a humidifier so that you can ensure it gets enough humidity. You can also use the pebble tray method.
This is when you line a tray with pebbles and fill it with water, before placing the Calathea pot on top of it. This ensures the plant can draw moisture from the tray without it getting its roots too wet, which can cause issues such as root rot.
Be careful when watering your Calathea plant as you should avoid using tap water—it contains minerals and chemicals that can harm your plant. Choose rainwater or filtered water instead.
Calathea want to be fed a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. This should be given once every three or so months during the cold season, and once a month during spring and summer when the plants experience growth.
9 Calathea Varieties to Add to Your Collection
There are many varieties of Calathea that would be worthy additions to your home and garden. Here’s a rundown of nine of them.
1. Calathea Orbifolia
This Calathea variety has round green leaves veined with silver. The leaves can reach a width of about 12 inches (30.48 cm), providing a beautiful tropical feeling to your home.
Give your Calathea orbifolia bright, filtered light so that its leaves will look their best. Maintain a temperature for your Calathea that’s between 65 °F and 80 °F (18.3–26.6 °C). It wants to be in moist soil that is well-draining, but it needs at least 50% humidity so that its leaves don’t become brown or curled from dehydration.
You should water your Calathea orbifolia once every week or two, when the top inch (2.54 cm) of its soil is dry.
To ensure your plant stays healthy and its leaves remain lush, feed it liquid fertilizer with high nitrogen to enhance its color.
2. Calathea Makoyana
This pretty Calathea variety has more color than the Calathea orbifolia because of its pale green leaves with purple undersides. It has dark markings on it that look painted and as if they have a feathered effect. The leaves can grow up to 12 inches (30.48 cm) in length. It’s sometimes called a peacock plant because of its decorative leaves.
Calathea makoyana wants to be in low to moderate light, as this will ensure it can remain bright and colorful. Its colors will fade if exposed to too much light. Keep its temperature between 60 °F and 75 °F (15.5–23.9 °C). Keep the plant’s soil moist without letting it get soggy. It also wants to be misted regularly to ensure it gets enough humidity.
Lastly, balanced fertilizer that’s provided once every two weeks from the months of April to October is sufficient.
3. Calathea Lancifolia
Otherwise known as a rattlesnake plant, this Calathea variety has markings on it that look like those of a snake. If you want a taller houseplant, this one is a taller type of Calathea as it can reach about 20 inches (50.8 cm) in height.
Give your Calathea lancifolia filtered light and well-draining soil. Water it regularly until the water comes out of its pot’s drainage holes. This plant also needs to be in an area of the home that is between 60 °F and 75 °F (15.5–23.9 °C), otherwise, its leaves will start to droop or become crispy and brown. It wants high levels of humidity, though, so ensure it gets 50%.
Fertilize your Calathea lancifolia once a month during the warm months when it’s growing. This should be done with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
4. Calathea Roseopicta
This beautiful Calathea variety is sometimes called “rosepainted” because it has dark green leaves with pink markings. These markings move down the middle of the leaf margin and look a bit like a leaf outline.
This Calathea variety wants to be in areas of the home where it gets bright, but indirect light. Never leave it in direct sunlight. You should water your Calathea when the surface inch (2.54 cm) of its soil has become dry. It wants well-draining soil, so add perlite to the potting mix to enhance how well it drains.
It wants approximately 40% humidity and temperatures that are between 64 °F and 75 °F (17.7–23.9 °C).
Calathea roseopicta doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. Give it a balanced fertilizer every month during the spring and summer months.
5. Calathea White Fusion
This stunning Calathea variety features dark-green and white leaves. It can grow up to two feet (0.6 m) in size. It wants bright, indirect sunlight, although it can handle low-light levels so don’t worry if your home doesn’t get a lot of light. It needs warmth, though, so keep the temperature to around 60–80 °F (15.5–26.6 °C).
This Calathea variety wants moist soil and high humidity. Let its soil dry out to about one inch (2.54 cm) before watering it. It wants a light potting mix. You can make your own by mixing together regular potting soil with perlite and orchard bark to ensure it drains well. And, if you’ve already got some potting soil at home, make sure it’s healthy to give to your Calathea.
This plant needs a lot of humidity—aim for between 75 and 85%. Increase the humidity with a humidifier and pebble tray.
Your white fusion Calathea will benefit from liquid fertilizer from spring to fall but don’t feed it during the winter.
6. Calathea Crocata
Calathea crocata is a different type of Calathea because it has bright orange flowers and dark-green, ruffled leaves. Its bright flowers are why it’s sometimes called the eternal flame.
Keep this houseplant in a spot where it will get partial shade during the summer and a bit of brighter light when the season changes. Avoid keeping it in bright, harsh sunlight, though, as this can cause its leaves to fade. It wants temperatures between 65 °F and 80 °F (18.3–26.6 °C).
Mist its leaves daily to ensure it stays hydrated. If you can see the leaves starting to get brown spots on them, this is a clear indication that it’s not getting enough humidity. This plant also wants to be watered when the top inch (2.54 cm) of its soil feels dry.
Plant it in light, well-draining potting soil. You should feed it a water-soluble fertilizer every other month during the spring and summer.
7. Pinstripe Calathea
This Calathea variety has oval-shaped, green leaves with white stripes. It can reach a height and width of about two feet (0.6 m). It wants warm temperatures, so ensure it gets between 65 °F and 85 °F (18.3–29.4 °C). Provide it with at least 60% humidity to encourage its growth.
However, it doesn’t want too much sun. Ideally, you should give it four hours of bright, indirect sunlight every day. When watering your pinstripe Calathea, give it water regularly so that its soil stays moist. Check that its soil is starting to dry out before watering it.
If you’re planting Calathea in the garden, you should check out our guide on how often to water your garden. You should plant your Calathea in peat-based potting soil.
Fertilize it during the spring and summer, once every two weeks. You should dilute the fertilizer before pouring it over the plant’s soil so that you don’t accidentally scorch its leaves.
8. Calathea Leopardina
This type of Calathea has bright green oval-shaped leaves with darker markings on them that look like branches. It wants to be planted in an area of the home where it will get medium bright light that’s filtered, for example, by a curtain or larger plant.
As with other Calathea varieties, ensure its soil remains moist without being dry or soggy. It craves lots of humidity, so give it a pebble tray and mist it regularly. It wants about 70% humidity. You should water it when the top inch (2.54 cm) of soil feels dry.
It wants to be exposed to temperatures between 70 °F and 85 °F (21.1–29.4 °C). It wants well-draining soil that’s rich, so amend it with organic materials. You can also feed it compost. To find out more about how to feed indoor houseplants with compost, read our guide on how to use compost for indoor house plants.
During the growing season, Calathea leopardina benefits from being fed a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.
9. Calathea Rufibarba
This Calathea plant has long, waxy, thin leaves that have wavy borders. Although the leaves are bright green when the plant is young, as it matures, its leaves will turn darker green on top and burgundy underneath. This Calathea is sometimes called a velvet Calathea because its stems and the underside of its leaves are fuzzy.
It wants bright, indirect light, although it doesn’t mind a bit of shade. It needs this type of light to encourage the contrast of its colors and boost its growth. This Calathea wants temperatures between 65 °F and 85 °F (18.3–29.4 °C).
Make sure that its soil is kept moist. It wants a bit more water than other Calathea varieties and it should be watered when the top half-inch (1.27 cm) of its soil is dry. It wants humidity that’s higher than 50%.
Plant it in pre-mixed soil, but add organic materials such as coco coir to it to enhance its drainage so that it doesn’t sit in water. If you want, you could install a water filtration system. Read our guide on the benefits of having one.
Feed it high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer every two weeks in the spring and summer months.
If you want to bring beautiful houseplants into your home, consider some of the exquisite Calathea varieties. We hope that the varieties of Calathea we listed here will help you make the right choice. Remember, each plant wants attention and care. Looks isn’t everything.