The plant Calathea is a representative of the Marantov family. This genus includes more than a hundred different species. The birthplace of Calathea is South America, as well as the regions of Central. This plant is common in almost all tropical zones and most often lives in humid forests or near lakes or rivers. Its species can be found on all continents, except for the Australian one.
The name of Calathea comes from the word “basket” – these items were previously made from its elegant foliage. Due to the high decorative characteristics of the leaf plates, this plant is gaining popularity in home floriculture. But in order for the calathea to show itself in all its glory, it will need very careful care.
Description of Calathea
The vast majority of calathea varieties have underground shoots located near the surface of the earth and forming a root system. They store the moisture necessary for the flower. It is from them that new rosettes appear, formed by large oval leaves. They are up to 40 cm long and are located on long petioles. The calathea bush itself can reach almost a meter in size. The outer surface of the leaves is painted in different shades of green, and may also have splashes of white, yellow or pink. The seamy side of the leaf blades is most often painted in pinkish-purple tones, but there are also species with completely green leaves.
Up to 6 new plates can appear on the bush per year. In the spring, during the flowering period, the plant forms nondescript inflorescences-spikelets of white or lilac flowers, which do not have much decorative effect. The exception is two calatheas – Varshevich and saffron. Their flowers are located behind bright bracts, painted in tones of white, orange or pinkish colors.
As a representative of Marantovs, calathea also has an interesting feature characteristic of them. The nubs, located between the petiole and the lamina, control the leaves themselves, turning them closer to the light. Because of this, every evening the leaf blades of the calathea rise upward, folding like hands in prayer. With the onset of the morning, they return to their original position. Due to this feature, calathea and arrowroot are also known as “prayer flowers”.
Brief rules for growing calathea
The table shows brief rules for caring for calathea at home.
|Lighting level||Partial shade is preferred.|
|Content temperature||From 16 degrees and above. Normal room temperature will do as well.|
|Watering mode||During the period of active growth, abundant, in winter the rate is reduced.|
|Air humidity||The humidity level needs to be increased. The flower is placed on a wet tray and its leaves are regularly washed.|
|The soil||The soil mixture should be light, loose, breathable and slightly acidic. You can use ready-made soil for arrowroot or rhododendrons.|
|Topdressing||From mid-spring to late summer, once every couple of weeks, using formulations for species with elegant foliage.|
|Transfer||Annual for young bushes, for adults – every few years.|
|Bloom||Only some types of calathea can bloom effectively, the rest are grown for the sake of beautiful foliage.|
|Dormant period||The dormant period lasts from early autumn to January, but is poorly expressed.|
|Reproduction||By dividing the bush, less often by cuttings and seeds.|
|Pests||Spider mites, thrips, scale insects.|
|Diseases||Loss of foliage beauty due to improper care, rhizoctonia.|
Caring for calathea at home
Calathea is a rather capricious and demanding flower that reacts sharply to improper care. But some of its varieties are more unpretentious. Most often, Bahema, Makoya, Vich calatheas are grown at home, decorated, striped and other similar types of calatheas are also undemanding.
In nature, calathea lives in forests, located under a canopy, where the direct rays of the sun do not penetrate. It needs warmth and light to develop, but too bright lighting can harm the plant. An excess of sunlight will lead to browning of the foliage, and a lack of them will make the leaf blades too pale. In addition, due to the bright light, the flower may fold its leaves. A place with light partial shade, where direct rays do not reach, will be optimal. Flowering species of calathea are more demanding on lighting, while artificial light will not suit them, so such flowers should be kept closer to the window than others.
The lower threshold for growing calathea is 16 degrees. Optimal conditions for a plant are temperatures up to 24 degrees. In the native forests of Calathea, constant conditions are maintained, therefore, sudden changes in temperature in a room with a flower are unacceptable. Otherwise, the leaves will become soft and may rot. Any such changes should be smooth. In addition, the bushes must be protected from drafts.
Abundant watering is required by kalatee during the growth period – in summer and spring. The liquid from the pan must be regularly drained, otherwise it can lead to rotting of the plant roots. In winter, water the flower less often. The soil in the container should remain slightly damp, but not damp. Usually, in warm periods, calathea is watered once every 2-3 days, and in winter – about once a week.
To moisten the soil, only very soft, rain or melt water is used. Plain tap water will work as well, but it will need to be pretreated. At night, several handfuls of peat, wrapped in a thin cloth, are placed in a bucket filled with water. In the morning, you can already water the flower with such a liquid. It is desirable that it be warm enough. When watering calathea, drops should not fall on the foliage. If then the sun hits the bush, it can cause burns.
High humidity is vital for healthy growth and development. Ideally, it should be up to 90%. It will be very difficult to achieve such a value at home, so they just try to moisten the foliage of the flower as often as possible, wipe it with a damp cloth or wash it with a shower. To do this, you must use warm water.
But you can only wash and wipe glossy smooth foliage, and this method will not work for calathea with a velvety leaf surface. In such cases, a pallet with damp moss or pebbles is used for moistening. The pot should be installed on it so that the bottom does not come into contact with water. Dust from such leaves is carefully removed with a dry napkin. You can also use a soft brush, taking care not to damage the surface of the sheet.
To create the necessary conditions for the calathea, the easiest way is to use automatic humidifiers or place the flower in an aquarium or florarium. It will be much easier to maintain high humidity there.
High air dryness is the main enemy of the plant. Because of her, the foliage of the calathea becomes lethargic and lifeless, or becomes covered with spots. It is advisable to keep the plant away from heating appliances, even if for this the pot will have to be rearranged further from the light.
The soil mixture for growing calathea should be light, loose, air-conducting and slightly acidic. You can use ready-made soil for arrowroot or rhododendrons. If the land is prepared on its own, peat, humus, leafy soil and half of the previously calcined river sand are taken for it. You can add a little coniferous soil to the substrate, as well as crushed coal or pieces of bark. Too dense substrate will make it difficult for oxygen to flow to the roots of the plant, and the flower may suffocate.
Calathea needs periodic feeding, but an excess of nutrients can harm the plant. The fertilization period lasts from mid-spring to late August. Twice a month, special formulations for species with beautiful foliage are introduced into the soil, trying to halve the recommended dosage. Two types of calathea – saffron, and Varshevich – need to be fertilized using formulations for flowers. Nitrogen and calcium-containing dressings should be avoided.
Small calatheas are moved annually, adult bushes – 2-3 times less often, when their roots begin to be seen in the drainage holes. The beginning of spring is best suited for transplants. A low, but wide, medium-sized pot is used as a planting capacity. Large species need heavier containers that will not allow the bush to turn them over under its own weight.
When transplanting calathea, you need to be careful and know the basic rules for moving. An impressive layer of drainage is poured into the bottom of the pot, and on top it is covered with a layer of earth. The bush is transferred to a new container along with the soil clod, trying not to disturb it and not to hurt the fragile roots of the plant. The rhizome must be placed vertically. The resulting voids are filled with fresh soil, and then the soil is slightly compacted.
Sometimes calathea is grown hydroponically.
Breeding methods for calathea
Dividing the bush
Transplanting a large adult calathea, you can divide its bush into parts. Over the years, most species form several rhizomes, which are quite easily separated from each other. For the division procedure, a sharp instrument treated with a saturated solution of potassium permanganate is used. Ready-made shoots that form on the sides can also be separated from the bush. Each division must have its own roots and leaf plates. The resulting sections are sprinkled with crushed coal.
For planting calathea, a special soil for arrowroot or peat-sand mixture is used. Delenki are distributed in small pots up to 9 cm in diameter. After transplanting, they are watered with slightly cool water and placed in a shady but warm place, where it keeps about 20 degrees. The next watering is carried out only after the substrate has dried. To provide the seedlings with the necessary moisture, you can place them on a pallet with wet pebbles or cover them with bags. Such divisions take root for a long time. Their viability directly depends on care, but still this method of reproduction is considered the most effective.
As soon as fresh leaves begin to appear on the plants, they are transplanted into a slightly wider pot. A year later, such a seedling is transplanted again and they begin to take care of it, like an adult calathea.
To propagate the calathea by this method, a stalk is cut from the aerial part of the bush. To do this, a part of the shoot about 12 cm long, which has its own leaves, is separated from the bush. For root formation, the cutting is planted in moist soil and covered with a bag or part of a transparent bottle. The shelter is removed as soon as the seedling takes root, but a successful reproduction result in this case is also not guaranteed: the cutting may never form roots. Leaf propagation is even less likely to succeed.
Growing from seeds
The seed breeding method of calathea is also considered quite risky: sometimes even the highest quality seeds may not germinate. You can also use your own seed for harvesting. It is harvested after waiting for the flower stalks of the plant to completely dry out. The more seeds are sown, the more chances that at least a few seeds will viable.
For sowing, a container filled with a mixture of leaf soil and sand (2: 1) is used. Seeds are placed in it, and then they are placed in heat (up to 25 degrees). As soon as the sprouts form the first pair of full-fledged leaves, they dive into a box filled with the same substrate. When the seedlings grow up, they are distributed in separate pots. New plants most likely will not retain the varietal characteristics of the mother bush.
Pests and diseases
Pests most often infect calathea due to improper conditions of detention. Thrips, scale insects or spider mites usually appear on bushes during periods of high dry air. Delicate foliage becomes a welcome prey for them. The consequences of their presence are yellowing and falling off of the leaf plates.
You can identify harmful insects by plaque, cobwebs or pale dots on the surface of the leaves. Having noticed such signs, you should process the plant as soon as possible, but in closed rooms it is better to avoid chemicals. A soapy solution is considered a good remedy. 20 g of green or liquid soap is dissolved in 1 liter of water, the mixture is foamed and applied to the foliage, after covering the soil surface with a film.
Sometimes the foliage is pollinated with sulfur, or treated with infusions or decoctions made on the basis of plants that are caustic for pests. Among them are onion peels, garlic, walnut leaves. For example, 1 liter of water will require about 250 g of husk or several cloves of garlic. The resulting mixture is infused for a week, then diluted with water in a ratio of 1:50 and applied to the bush using a fine spray. But infusions of poisonous flowers and herbs, including bitter pepper and celandine, should not be used in apartments. If folk methods do not help, you can use biological agents that are harmless to humans and animals and do not cause allergies. Among them are Fitoverm, Iskra Bio and others.
Due to mistakes in leaving, Calathea can start to hurt or lose its attractiveness. The reasons for what is happening can be judged by external signs:
- The tips of the leaves dry out due to the high dryness of the air. The bush requires more frequent spraying or other methods of humidifying the air.
- Dry spots form on the leaf blades – drops of moisture fell on them during watering, and the bush stood in the bright sun. This is how sunburn manifests itself.
- Dark spots on foliage are a sign of overspray.
- Small white grains on the seamy side of the leaves – without signs of the presence of pests (cobwebs), this is how frozen droplets of calathea cell juice may look like.
- Foliage dries out – due to drafts, insufficient watering or the presence of thrips.
- Leaves stretch and thin out – from lack of light. Calathea is rearranged to a brighter place. If the bush begins to lean to one side, it is recommended to tie it to a support.
- Foliage curls due to the cold in the room, low humidity or cold draft.
- The foliage turns yellow . If only the lower leaves of the calathea have turned yellow, you should not worry – this is a natural process of their aging. If the beginnings and younger foliage turn yellow, there may be several reasons for this. The first is an insufficient amount of moisture in the soil, or an excess of it. Regular stagnation of water can lead to the development of diseases, therefore, the plant should be watered as soon as the top layer of the soil dries out at least a couple of cm. Otherwise, oxygen ceases to flow to the roots of the plant and rot may develop on them. Another possible cause is overfeeding. For calathea to develop well, half the dose recommended on the package is enough for it. In addition, the foliage may turn yellow due to the room temperature being too cold.
So that the calathea does not get sick and maintain a healthy appearance, it is necessary to comply with all the basic requirements for its cultivation. This will prevent almost all the problems and difficulties associated with the cultivation of this flower.
Types of calathea with photos and names
The following types of calathea are most popular in floriculture:
Brazilian species, considered the most unpretentious of all presented. It is a stemless bush, consisting of long (up to 40 cm) lanceolate leaves. They are silvery green in color. Each leaf is decorated with more intense stripes located on opposite sides of the central vein.
Another Brazilian variety that forms half-meter bushes. It has foliage up to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide. The petioles can be up to 14 cm in size. On the front side, each plate is colored light green and covered with dark patterns and pale reddish specks. Leaf veins also have a dark green color. From the inside, the foliage has the same patterns, but is painted in burgundy tones.
It has foliage about 20 cm long. In this species, it has light green foliage with a darker contrasting border. From the inside out, the leaf blades have a rich beetroot hue.
Another stemless bush. Reaches about 50 cm in height. The leaf blades can be up to 12 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. On the bright green background of the leaf, there are darker green elliptical specks extending from the central vein.
Colombian species that lives in tropical rainforests. A miniature plant that grows only 15 cm in height. Foliage extending to the sides reaches 20 cm in length. Its width is about 5 cm. On the front side, the dark green foliage is decorated with pink or silver stripes, and the back side has a purple tint. This calathea has several subspecies, differing in the pattern on the leaves.
The species belongs to the number of decorative flowering. It has foliage that is dark green on the outside and cherry brown on the seamy side. With sufficient lighting (at least 10 hours) at the beginning of winter, the bush may begin to bloom. During this period, inflorescences are formed on it from nondescript flowers hidden behind large noticeable bracts. They have a bright yellow or orange hue and are on long peduncles, resembling real flowers. To achieve flowering of this species, you need short daylight hours (no more than 10 hours), therefore, most often such flowers appear from autumn to early spring.
The foliage of this species has an elegant velvety texture. In this species, the leaf blades are colored in a deep shade of green with lighter veins and have slightly wavy edges. The inside of the leaf is purple in color. The species also belongs to the flowering species. Its inflorescences are pink, cream or snow-white in color and are located on low reddish peduncles. Flowering lasts about 3 weeks.
The species comes from the Brazilian tropics. It has elliptical foliage up to 40 cm long and up to 15 cm wide. On the inside, the leaf plates are reddish, and on the outside they are deep green, with bright green stripes along some veins.
It forms tall bushes up to 90 cm in size. It has glossy oval foliage up to 30 cm long and 10 cm wide. The outer surface of the plates is colored dark green and covered with yellow-green stains, the underside has a purple hue and is complemented by yellow stripes.
The name of the species is associated with the reddish pubescence of the petioles and the underside of its leaves. It has long leaf blades with a slightly wavy edge. They are painted in shades of green on the outside and brown on the back. Among the varieties of such a calathea, “Blue Grass” – a variety with completely green foliage, and “Wavestar” – with a purple underside.
Other types of calathea grown at home also include:
- Calathea is wonderful or lanceolate (with a dark pattern on light long leaves);
- Queen of Maui (with a light pattern along the central vein);
- Litze (with wide light stripes on the leaves);
- Lubbers (with bright light green spots);
- medallion or roseopicta (with variegated green-pink foliage);
- orbifolia (with wide striped foliage).