How to Care for a Calathea Plant


Calathea plant“Calathea plants are popular house plants because of their beautiful foliage and easy maintenance. Elizabeth Fernandez/Getty Images

It’s no wonder why the calathea plant — also commonly known as the cathedral, peacock or zebra plant — is such a popular household plant. Its beautiful foliage of bright white veins against green, red and cream leaves provides interesting and unique texture to any room of your house. Easy to care for, the calathea plant will have everyone thinking that you have a gifted green thumb. Read the tips listed below and learn about how to care for a calathea plant.

  • Lighting and humidity: Calathea plants thrive in humidity, prefer indirect lighting and will grow best in a shady room. Place your plants away from any open windows with sunlight. You can provide ample humidity by placing a humidifier in the room, or by placing the potted plants on top of a saucer filled with pebbles. Add water to the pebbles and the humidity will travel up through the pebbles and the pot to the plant’s roots.
  • Watering and fertilizer: Calathea plants don’t like to be heavily watered. Feed them room temperature water when the soil an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface is dry. The plants require regular watering during the summer months and less frequent watering during the colder months. You can periodically give the plants houseplant fertilizer.
  • Maintenance: Groom your calathea plant regularly to keep it looking beautiful. Wipe any dust off the leaves with a clean, damp cloth. Mist the leaves to ensure that all sides of the plants receive humidity and moisture. Remove any yellow leaves to keep your plant strong and growing.

Originally Published: May 31, 2011

Calathea Plant FAQ

How do you care for a Calathea plant?

Calathea plants thrive in humid air and indirect light. When watering a Calathea plant, refrain from overwatering it and be sure to dust off the leaves, misting them afterwards.

Do Calatheas need sunlight?

Calathea plants need indirect sunlight and do well in a shady place away from open windows.

Do Calathea flowers bloom?

Calathea flowers bloom in the wild, but they don’t often bloom indoors. Certain species, such as the C. crocata, have been found to produce pretty orange flowers.

Why do Calatheas close at night?

Calatheas are unique because their leaves close at night and open in the morning when the sun comes up. They do this to conserve moisture and follow the sun’s movements throughout the daytime.


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