Thank You to Marie Broadhurst, founder of Sheffield plant shop Feels Like Home for this post

The Calathea

As a houseplant specialist we see a lot of plants come and go, but our most popular type of plant by far is the Calathea. The variety of colours and patterns Calatheas have, leave our customers swooning as they can’t wait to get their hands on them and take them home. Calathea varieties can have leaves that are slender or wide, plain or colourful. They are an ideal houseplant to bring the tropical feel inside, and create a great focal plant for any home or business.

Praying

Calatheas are part of the 'prayer plant' family, Marantaceae.

Part of the main attraction of Calatheas also comes from the fact that these beautiful plants move up and down as if in prayer, It is believed that these movements are meant to follow the sun’s movement in the sky in order to maximize light absorption, it certainly adds a special ‘planty’ bonus to such already beautiful plants. You can see huge differences to their position from day and night.

Having said that, these plants can be a little dramatic (hence the title) if you don’t get the care right for them you can expect curling leaves, and dry crispy edges. But once you get it right they reward you with the most beautiful foliage.

The leaves of a Calathea change their spread and angle throughout the day, sometimes you may catch them moving out of the corner of your eye!

Water & Humidity

To keep your Calathea looking its absolute best a few guidelines should be followed with its watering and humidity requirements.

Calatheas prefer their soil to be consistently moist but not soggy, so when the top 2” of soil becomes dry it’s time to water your plant. If you let it dry out too much then you may possibly see curling, browning, or yellowing leaves.. But give them a good drink and they will bounce back. However, give them too much water and this can lead to root rot which is difficult to recover from. So think consistency and moderation with your watering.

As native rainforest plants, Calatheas like humidity so will appreciate regular misting, or a pebble tray or humidity from a humidifier.

Warmth

Calatheas like a steady warm temperature, so it is best to keep it away from air conditioning, heaters and even open windows.

Sunlight

Calatheas thrive in medium to bright indirect light, but many can also tolerate low indirect light too, If the leaves are starting to look washed out and losing colour, then this could be an indication that they are getting too much direct sunlight onto the leaves.

With their wonderful showy leaves its important to keep them clean, so regularly clean the leaves with a leaf shine product or just a soft damp cloth

Pruning

As with any plant over time you will get a few wilting leaves and a bit of pruning will be required to keep it healthy, just trim off any damaged leaves gently. This will stop putting wasted energy into these leaves and allow it to concentrate on producing new ones. Occasionally you will get a few brown tips or edges, it's perfectly natural and you can either trim off, staying inside the brown edge or leave as your preference.

Pet Friendly

Another bonus to these lovely funky-leaved plants is that they are safe with pets, so you can be confident that your pets won’t be harmed if they happen to nibble on them.

Top Ten Calatheas and why!

There are over 300 varieties of Calathea, so there are plenty to choose from but there are some that are proven to be more sustainable as house plants , and our most popular ones that we stock.

  1. Lancifolia
    Also known as the Rattlesnake Plant. This Calathea has long lance-shaped leaves with wavy margins and dark green spots by hand.
  2. Leopardina
    The bright green leaves are decorated with dark green markings which are said to resemble a leopard print.
  3. Makoyana
    Also known as the Peacock plant, This Calathea has bright green background, with dark splodges which resemble the peacocks feathers.
  4. Orbifolia
    This large-leaved Calathea has stunning round leaves with pale silvery streaks running through them.
  5. Sanderina
    Beautiful Pinstriped leaves with pink tones, almost look like they’ve been drawn on.
  6. Rufibarba
    Very tolerant of lower light conditions, the undersides are furry and velvety.
  7. Roseopicta
    Our favourite of the ‘roseopicta’ is the ‘dottie’ as it has beautiful dark burgundy leaves with pink stripes.
  8. Warscewiczii
    A stunning velvety leaf with amazing markings, this one really makes you stop and stare.
  9. Zebrina
    The clues in the name, long lance like leaves with broad stripes of dark green just like zebra markings.
  10. Fusion
    A rare kid on the block, the white fusion is an absolutely stunning leaf, which doesn’t quite look real, with its almost hand painted like stripes of white, green and pinky, purple undersides this one is the absolute cream of the crop.

Drama, or Dramatic?

If you are looking for a dramatic houseplant then the Calathea will not fail to impress you.

It looks good, provides entertainment and is also a plant with air purifying properties, and as long as you treat it to the right conditions it will carry on rewarding you with its fantastic good looks and charm.

By Marie Broadhurst

Thanks to Marie Broadhurst, founder of Feels Like Home, for writing for this post.

About Feels Like Home:

Feels like home is a house plant specialist shop based in Walkley, Sheffield. Run by husband-and-wife team Marie & Marc. Their aim is to delight and sooth the senses by offering as much choice as possible in plants, so they always have the right plant for any space or place.

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