The Q&A Archives: Calathea

Question: I had a gorgeous calathea plant that I adored, but it got extremely pot bound so I carefully tried to unwind the roots and repot it, but it promptly died. I've never seen another and I'd love to have one, but how should I have propagated it so I could have another in such an emergency, and what did I do wrong?

Answer: Calathea is indeed a beautiful tropical plant and I think a nursery or garden center with a large collection of houseplants should have one for sale. You might phone some local nurseries to see if they have any in stock. Calathea should not be divided nor should the roots be untangled when the plant becomes pot bound. Instead it should just be moved up to the next pot size. These plants do like to have their roots disturbed and they resent being divided (as you have discovered). You can take stem cuttings to propagate the plant or wait until it flowers and collect seeds. Division just doesn't work for Calathea the way it does for other plants. Best wishes with your search. I hope you find another soon!

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