Calathea: November Houseplant of the Month
The story of Calathea
Calathea is characterised by the fabulous markings on the leaves and the rich choice of leaf shapes, from round and oval to spear-shaped. Those leaves not only have air-purifying properties, but also join in your daily routine thanks to their day and night rhythm. There is a kind of joint between the leaf and the stem that allows movement. When it gets dark the leaves close, and if it’s quiet enough you can hear the rustling of the closing leaves. When it gets light they unfold again.
Calathea grows in tropical rainforests in warm and damp conditions. It particularly thrives there in sheltered spots without too much light, around forest giants that filter the light.
There are many different Calatheas. There are a few species that are sold as flowering plants, of which C. crocata – with orange flowers – is the best-known with cultivars such as Tassmania and Candela. Other flowering Calatheas are C. warscewiczii (white) and C. ‘Bicajoux’ (pink). The other Calatheas are stunning decorative foliage plants with unusual leaf markings and colours. Many species feature a claret-coloured back to the leaf. C. lancifolia and C. makoyana have been known for a long time; more recent varieties are C. rufibarba, C. zebrina and C. orbifolia. Calathea is available in sizes ranging from small compact plant to potted giant.
How to look after your Calathea
- Calathea likes a light and warm spot indoors; do not allow the temperature to drop below 12°C.
- The more variegated the leaves, the less light is required, although it’s better to avoid bright sunlight. If the plant’s position is too dark the markings will disappear.
- The soil should always be slightly damp. Preferably give the plant water at room temperature.
- Possibly spray the plant (or place it outdoors in a rain shower in the summer) in order to increase the humidity to prevent dry leaf edges and tips.
- Some plant food once a month keeps the leaves looking good and the plant growing.
- Yellow or brown leaves can be cut off.
Text courtesy of the Flower Council
Images courtesy of TheJoyofPlants.co.uk