How to Take Care of Plants From the Calathea Species


There are more than 300 species of calathea plants, according to information published by the University of Florida, and all are desirable for their showy, variegated and colorful foliage. These tropical beauties, which are native to parts of South America (primarily Brazil), are usually grown as houseplants and can range from 18 inches to over 3 feet tall. Although they vary by species in appearance, Calathea plants all have the same basic care needs.

Step 1

Locate your calathea where it will be exposed to bright light, which will increase the intensity of the variegation and colors on the leaves. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves, however, so try a window that is filtered by a curtain, or one that faces the gentler morning sun but has afternoon shade.

Step 2

Use a rich but well-draining soil mix. Proper drainage is essential or the plant's roots will begin to rot, according to information published by the University of Oklahoma. A planting medium consisting of peat moss, loam and coarse sand works well for this purpose.

Step 3

Keep the soil of your calathea moist, but not soggy or waterlogged. Leaf spot, a fungal disease, can be a problem, according to the University of Florida, so water at the soil level and avoid leaving standing water on the leaves.

Step 4

Provide humidity for the plant by placing it on a tray filled with pebbles and a small amount of water. The water, which will evaporate and add moisture to the air, should barely cover the pebbles, but it will not be enough to cause leaf spot.

Step 5

Feed your plant with a liquid houseplant fertilizer. The University of Oklahoma recommends twice-monthly feedings during the growing season (spring and summer) and once per month during the winter. Follow the instructions on the label as per the age and size of your plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the plant away from cold or hot drafts.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Soil mixture containing peat moss and sand
  • Liquid houseplant fertilizer
  • Shallow tray filled with pebbles


  • University of Florida: Calathea Production Guide
  • Denver Plants: Calathea Roseopicta
  • University of Oklahoma: Plant of the Week: Calathea Zebrina
Keywords: Calathea species, growing Calathea plants, care of Calatheas

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.