calathea - Knowledgebase Question

san francisco, Ca
Question by jacque_hende
November 17, 2009
I'm on my 3rd calathea. They all get brown spots on them, especially around the edge of the leaves. Then they shrivel yp and dry out, then die. A friend siad to spray the leaves with a ivory soap mixture. I did that. Plnt still drying up and dying.

Answer from NGA
November 17, 2009


Calathea is tropical plant that is also known as the Zebra Plant and needs temperatures over 55 degrees in order to thrive. These plants are used mainly for their vibrant colorful leaves. Colors include yellow, rose, white, and even olive. The Calathea grows to a height of 6 to 36 inches.

Calathea can be tough to grow so don't be discouraged. With a little diligence on your part, you can overcome the problems and grow them successfully. Here are some requirements:

First, these plants only need a moderate amount of light. No direct sunlight - filtered light is best. Direct of sunlight will change the leaf color and cause burning of the leaves.

The ideal temperature for the Calathea is 60 to 70 degrees F. If a warmer room is involved, however, you will need to increase the humidity. These plants thrive with humidity you may have to create an artificial environment to accommodate this. This is done by putting the pot on a tray filled with rocks or pebbles. Also, you can actually just run a humidifier near them.

The Calathea loves moisture, but not wet feet. When the few top inches of soil are dry but deep down is still moist water again. Let the water reach room temp before using. This is accomplished by letting the water stand for about 30 minutes before using.

Calatheas do not like drafty rooms so keep yours away from heater or air conditioner vents and away from open doors.

While the ivory soap solution you've used might discourage insect pests, it won't help keep the foliage from drying out. Increase the humdity around the plant and I think you'll see an improvement.

Best wishes with your plant!

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