Ask a Question forum: calathea leaves turning translucent, developing black spots

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Aug 5, 2017 11:31 AM CST
Hello all.
We live in Germany and are totally new to growing plants. My wife brought a calathea a month back and it was beautiful. It remained beautiful but in the last 2 weeks, the leaves started losing colour and turning translucent/yellow. Other leaves had black spots.
We thought it's because we were giving the plant less water so, we watered it every day, twice.
When the condition did not improve, we thought it requires a bigger pot (it had grown too many leaves and the leaves were at the edges of the old pot)
We also cut the leaves that turned translucent, yellow or dried.
None of it seemed to improve the situation.
The plant is situated near the biggest window of our house (3 meters wide), gets the most sunlight (but not direct) in our apartment.

Please help!!

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Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
Blessed beyond all merit.
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Aug 5, 2017 11:46 AM CST
This is a very difficult plant to maintain properly. It likes high humidity. It is sensitive to just about everything....watering, fertilizing, too much light, not enough light, etc. Beautiful but one that is impossible for me in the home environment. Looks like you might have over watered. Certainly should not take twice a day. Humidity may be too low in the house as well. The only time I have had any success with this one was on the porch in the summer time in bright shade. The plant quickly declined when brought into the house for the cold weather. Very sad to me as this foliage plant is one of my all time favorites.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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Aug 5, 2017 11:49 AM CST
This is a plant I love, but I agree with what Dave said. The only time I was able to grow it was when I lived in a tropical place where it was outside year round in the shade. It loved it because our area was very high humidity. Since I've moved to drier climates, I've tried it twice in my home, and it's hated it and died both time. You could try a humidity tray like they use with orchids. There are so many other plants that would grow well for you in the house there.
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Aug 5, 2017 12:23 PM CST
Thanks a lot people...
So sad, is there no way to revive it??
[Last edited by zazu - Aug 5, 2017 1:11 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Aug 5, 2017 2:14 PM CST
Your Calathea should not need water more than about once per week. Daily watering will rot the roots for sure. The larger pot has aggravated the problem by adding soil that keeps the roots wet even longer.

It may also not be getting proper light. "Near" a window may not be close enough. It should be just outside the range of where the light rays would fall directly on it. Light intensity drops off dramatically with every foot of distance from the window.

Calatheas are also sensitive to hard water. If your tap water is on the hard side, use filtered, distilled or rainwater.

At this time of year, low humidity is not a problem.

You can try downsizing the pot, but that is risky for any ailing plant. Otherwise, allow the soil to dry down at least an inch before watering lightly. At best, it will take several months to begin to recover.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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