Also known as; cathedral, peacock, zebra, rattlesnake and prayer plants
Stunning foliage with incredible variegation, the calathea thrives in home and office environments with indirect light, high humidity, and relatively little water, care and attention, making it a good houseplant for committed beginners.
About the calathea
The Calathea is a popular species of tropical foliage plant from the rainforest floors of south and central america. These plants thrive in warm homes and offices that can supply bright, indirect light and high humidity, which makes it a good option for a committed indoor plant owner.
These plants feature strikingly beautiful foliage with large leaves, deep greens and a plethora of vibrant colours and variegations that really make them stand out, but will certainly make it obvious when they're unhappy with their surroundings.
While it is relatively easy to take care of these plants, humidity is the biggest concern and they won't last long unless you can keep your humidity levels above 50%, and ideally above 60%. This can be easily mitigated using a humidifier, a tray of pebbles and water, grouping plants together or by misting the plant each day.
With the right care, your plant will thrive in almost any space and draw the attention of guests as an impressive statement piece, with large, colourful leaves, unusual textures and an exotic look that brightens any dull environment.
Yes - inconspicuous
Yes - separate roots
Caring for your calathea
Calathea are relatively easy to care for if you can regularly maintain their environment, only demanding higher than average humidity levels, indirect sun, average room temperatures and regular watering with distilled water. They can easily acclimatise to most indoor environments, making them somewhat easy enough for beginners, but really need you to stay on top of the humidity as a focus point else they will suffer from leaf burn.
Requires excellent drainage
Ideally 18-30°c / 65-85°f
Benefits from some humidity
Window - just out of direct light
Bathroom - loves the humidity
Sun & Water
Indirect light - dappled shade
Drowns easily - never leave standing
in waterlogged soil
Temperature / Hardiness
Minimum - 2°c / 35°f / Zone 10b
Ideal - 18-30°c / 65-85°f
Best calathea varieties
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Calathea buyers' guide
Where to buy a calathea online
Our simple guide to buying the perfect calathea
- 1Read our care guide and find the perfect place (for light, temperature and humidity) in your home or office.
- 2Look for a specific variety to narrow your search.
- 3Browse your local plant nursery / garden centre, so you can see healthy plants in person before you buy.
- 4Check online at Ebay and Etsy for trusted sellers and lower prices than official online stores.
- 5Investigate your plant to make sure it's healthy and disease-free, but complain if not.
- 6Give your plant a new pot with soil or other growing medium, a splash of water and nutrients to get it off to a healthy start.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the calathea expensive?
Calathea can be bought online for between £40-70 ($55-90), making it a somewhat pricey plant, but far from the most expensive of houseplants. Cuttings are far cheaper and can be found for as little as £10 ($15).
How often should I water my calathea?
It is important to water your calathea regularly to keep the plant healthy and vibrant. However, you should be careful not to overwater the plant, as this can cause problems such as root rot. A good rule of thumb is to water your calathea once a week, making sure that the soil is moist but not soggy. If the leaves of your plant start to droop, this is a sign that it is time to water.