How to Grow and Care for Calathea

A Tropical Indoor Plant That Thrives in Low Light Conditions

Calathea Makoyana

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Burle Marxii

The Calathea genus consists of stunning tropical plants known for their vibrant, striped, and oblong leaves. These plants go by various nicknames like zebra plant, peacock plant, or rattlesnake plant due to their striking patterns. They are also commonly called prayer plants, a name shared with other species.

In their native tropical environments, you can find Calatheas outdoors, but they can’t handle cold weather. Therefore, they are typically grown as indoor houseplants year-round in other regions. However, taking care of Calatheas can be a bit tricky because they are particular about their growing conditions. But when you provide them with the right environment, they tend to grow rapidly, often reaching their full size within a year. It’s generally recommended to plant them in the spring.

Calathea Care

Taking care of Calatheas can be a bit challenging because these plants have specific needs and don’t tolerate neglect very well. However, they thrive in their natural tropical habitat outdoors. The good news is that you can successfully cultivate them indoors by recreating the warm, humid conditions found in greenhouses, which is why they are often associated with greenhouse plants. The great thing is that Calatheas don’t require a lot of space, typically growing to around 2 feet in height and width, making them suitable for a variety of indoor environments and gardens.


Despite being a tropical plant, Calatheas actually prefer filtered light or shade. They have adapted to thrive under the dappled sunlight of a jungle canopy rather than direct, harsh rays. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your Calathea away from direct sunlight to prevent leaf burn and fading of their vibrant patterns. When growing them indoors, indirect sunlight from east-, south-, or west-facing windows should suffice. To ensure even sun exposure, it’s helpful to rotate your plant. You may notice the leaves of your Calathea moving throughout the day, folding at night and opening wider in the morning, a behavior that maximizes sun absorption.


Calatheas thrive in loamy or humus-rich soil with ample organic matter. A slightly acidic to neutral soil pH is ideal. When potting Calatheas, lightweight and airy peaty mixtures work well, as do specialty mixes designed for African violets.


Consistently maintaining moist (but not waterlogged) soil is key to Calathea care. These plants appreciate generous watering, but it’s essential not to let them become waterlogged.

Temperature and Humidity

Calathea plants thrive when exposed to temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a lower tolerance limit of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, they prefer humidity levels of 50% or higher. Indoors, you can increase humidity around your Calathea by using a humidifier or placing the plant’s container on a tray filled with water and pebbles, ensuring that the container’s bottom doesn’t touch the water. Terrariums are another option for creating a humid microclimate, provided they are sufficiently spacious to accommodate the Calathea’s expansive leaves.


To encourage lush growth, it’s advisable to treat your Calathea with a liquid balanced fertilizer at half strength approximately once a month during the spring, summer, and fall, following the instructions on the label. During the winter months when natural growth slows, it’s best to withhold fertilizer.

© 2021 All Rights Reserved.
Shopping Cart
  • Your current order subtotal is $0.00 — you must have an order with a minimum of $150.00 to place your order.
Your Cart
Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop