10 Favorite Calathea Types of Houseplants

Calathea types of tropical plants are native to South America. The leaves are oblong and most types of calathea plants have bold markings on their foliage. Mature plants range from 1 to 3 feet (30 to 91 cm) in height and often grow as wide as they do tall.

Learn to Grow Calathea Types of Houseplants

All calathea varieties are considered a challenging houseplant because of their very specific needs. The best way to care for Calatheas is to mimic their native, tropical conditions.

Lighting for Calathea Types

All types of Calathea plants prefer filtered or indirect light for optimal growth. Too much sun will result in burnt leaves and a loss of their vibrant foliage pattern.

Exposure to sun from a bright room or sitting a few feet from a sunny window is recommended. Rotating your Calathea types ensures even sun exposure for all the plant’s leaves.

The plant’s leaves will move on their own and fold up at night to maximize sun absorption.

Water Requirements for Calathea Varieties

All Calathea types require very specific watering conditions. Keep the soil consistently moist at all times and never let the soil dry out. The plants prefer frequent, light watering instead of a deep soaking less often. As all types of Calathea plant are sensitive to minerals and additives in tap water, use rain water or filtered water instead. If tap water is used, fill a container and allow it to sit overnight so chlorine and fluoride evaporates.

Temperature and Humidity Needs for Calathea Types

Calathea varieties require constant warmth and humidity to thrive. A general rule for acceptable temperatures is between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 26 degrees Celsius). High humidity of 60 percent or higher is recommended. Supplementing the humidity in your home keeps the foliage healthy and encourages growth. Placing your Calathea in the bathroom during a shower is an easy way to boost humidity.

Soil and Fertilizer Needs for Types of Calathea

Calathea varieties need a well-draining, light soil. Amending potting soil with your choice of peat, perlite, coarse sand, or coco coir allows for optimal drainage. A soil for African Violets also works well.

Most Calathea types are fast-growing plants and therefore require fertilizer to keep up with their nutrient needs. Feed your plant in the spring and summer, when growth is highest. Do not give fertilizer in the fall and winter months. To prevent root burn from excess fertilizer dilute the recommended strength. 

Pruning Calathea Types of Plants

Pruning is recommended for brown or wilted leaves. This is for aesthetic reasons, as the leaves will fall off naturally if left. If a pest infestation occurs, extra pruning of infected leaves will speed recovery.

Various Calathea Types 

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia grows to 3 feet (1 m) tall with foliage growing 12 inches (30 cm) long. The leaves are large and round, striped with pale-silver markings. The underside of the leaves is also a pale silver. Provide ample indirect sunlight, preferably from an East-facing window.

The orbifolia types of Calathea prefers consistent watering to keep the soil moist. Test the soil with your finger. When the top 1 inch feels dry, provide water until the soil is moist but not soggy. Use filtered or rain water to avoid leaf spots from minerals and chemicals present in tap water.

Keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius) and the humidity level at 60 percent or higher. Avoid hot or cold drafts that damage Calathea varieties but good air circulation helps with foliage health. In dry environments, supplement low humidity with a room humidifier.

As with all Calathea types of plants, Calathea orbifolia requires a well-draining soil. Mix two parts peat with one part perlite to ensure water reaches the roots and does not pool on the surface. Supplement nutrients by feeding with a liquid houseplant fertilizer at ¼ strength once every two weeks.

Calathea Vittata

Calathea Vittata

Calathea vittata is considered one of the rarer types of Calathea plants. This plant grows to a height of 2 feet (60 cm) with dark-green leaves featuring white stripes. The underneath of the foliage has a burgundy hue. Blooms of the plant are light-cream colored but Calathea plants rarely flower indoors. Place Calathea vittata in a spot with filtered light, avoiding direct sunlight.

Water your plant when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry when you insert a finger. All Calathea types prefer light but frequent watering. Use rainwater or filtered water as minerals and chemicals in tap water may damage foliage. Yellow leaves indicate over watering while curling leaves is a sign of too little moisture.

Keep the plant at temperatures of between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 30 degrees Celsius). Humidity levels above 60 percent are recommended. Boost humidity  by placing a tray filled with pebbles and water under the plant’s pot. 

Mixing two parts peat and one part perlite makes a well-draining soil all Calathea varieties prefer. Include orchid bark for added drainage. Choose a plant pot with drainage holes to give excess water an escape. During Spring and Summer feed the plant with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ strength.

Calathea Freddie

Calathea Freddie

Also known as Calathea concinna freddie, Calathea freddie grows to 2 feet (60 cm) in both height and width. The foliage is deep green with light green stripes. The plant rarely blooms indoors but the blooms are white with a sweet fragrance. Moderate, indirect sunlight is best for this Calathea but they will tolerate filtered sunlight as well. 

Weekly or bi-weekly watering is advised, depending on the season and humidity level. Keep the plant’s soil moist but never soggy as this leads to root rot. Water when the top 1 inch feels dry when you insert your finger into the soil. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to rid the plant of excess water. Use rainwater or filtered water as tap water’s chemicals are harmful to all types of Calathea. 

Provide temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius), but never below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) as it causes damage or dormancy. Ensure the plant is not in direct contact with hot or cold drafts. All Calathea varieties need high humidity of at least 60 percent or higher. 

A well-draining mix of equal parts potting soil, coco coir, perlite, and coarse sand makes an excellent growing medium. Feed your plant with a ½ strength liquid fertilizer twice per month in the spring and summer. 

Calathea Warscewiczii 

Calathea Warscewiczii 

Calathea warscewiczii is a large Calathea type growing to between 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 m) in both height and width. The plant features velvety foliage with two-toned, green tops and burgundy undersides. The cream-colored blooms from this Calathea variety are small and form from a central stalk. Flowering inside is rare. Indirect or filtered light from a West-facing window is best.

Use rainwater or filtered water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water when the top 1 inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Increase watering frequency during the spring and summer, decreasing in the fall and winter.

Keep the plant between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius) and at a humidity level of over 50 percent. Don’t expose the plant to hot or cold drafts as it damages the leaves. In dry climates supplement low humidity by placing the plant pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water.

Feed this type of Calathea once a month, during spring and summer, with a houseplant fertilizer diluted by ¼ to ½ strength. A well-draining soil of one part perlite and two parts peat is recommended. Change out the soil when the peat breaks down and becomes compacted.

Calathea Makoyana

Calathea Makoyana

Calathea makoyana features long, oval leaves reaching 10 inches (25.4 cm) long. The foliage tops are a two-toned green with pinkish-purple undersides. This Calathea type grows to a height of 2 feet (61 cm) and is prized for its vibrant color. These Calathea varieties prefer bright, indirect light from a North or East-facing window. Avoid direct sunlight as leaves will burn and growth is stunted.

Use rainwater or filtered water to keep the soil moist but never soggy. If using tap water, allow the water to sit overnight so chlorine and fluoride evaporates. Hard water with a high mineral content may still affect the foliage. Determine watering schedule by inserting a finger into the soil. If the top 1 inch feels dry, it is time to water.

Keep temperatures for these types of Calathea plants between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsuis). Avoid temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or growth is stunted. Humidity levels of 60 percent or higher is recommended. Ensure the plant is not placed near hot or cold drafts.

Use an African Violet soil mix or create your own well-draining soil by mixing 2 parts peat with 1 part coarse sand or perlite. For added organic matter, replace 10 percent of the peat with compost. A correct soil mixture will allow the water to absorb fast and not pool up on the surface. Feed with a 3-1-2 houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ strength no more than twice per month. Do not fertilize in the winter.

Calathea Lancifolia

Calathea Lancifolia

The leaves of Calathea lancifolia are variegated green with wavy edges with an underside of purplish-red. Blooms of small, yellow flowers appear in late spring but rarely happen when grown indoors. The plant reaches a height of 1.6 feet (19.2 cm). Keep sunlight filtered through sheer drapes or place the plant several feet from a sunny window. Avoid intense, afternoon sun.

Provide frequent, small waterings to keep the soil moist. These Calathea types require more water in the summer growing season. Excess water should drain out through the pot’s holes and be poured out of the tray to avoid root rot. Curling leaves indicate too little water.

Temperatures of between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 24 degrees Celsius) are recommended. Keep humidity levels at 60 percent or higher to avoid browning of the leaves’ edges. Supplement low humidity by placing a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath the plant’s pot.

All Calathea varieties require a well-draining soil. Use an African Violet mix or combine 2 parts peat with 1 part perlite. The soil’s pH should be slightly acidic to neutral. Use a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ strength. Feed your plant once a month during the spring and summer.

Calathea Roseopicta

Calathea Roseopicta

The foliage of Calathea roseopicta features a feather pattern of bright pink or green foliage. The colorful stripes on the leaves turn white when mature. Small blooms of white or purple appear on short stalks, though flowering indoors is rare. These Calathea types reach a height of 1.6 feet (19.2 cm). Provide moderate, indirect light from a North, West, or East-facing window. Placing the plant 6 to 10 feet from a sunny window is also acceptable.

Test the soil by inserting a finger into the soil. If the top 1 to 2 inches feels dry, provide moisture with rainwater or filtered water. The plant will require more water during the spring and summer growth months and less during the dormant winter months. 

Use a well-draining potting soil amended with ⅕ to ⅓ perlite. Water should absorb fast and never pool on the surface. Drain excess water from the drip tray to avoid root rot. These Calathea varieties are light feeders and require fertilizer only in the growing season. Dilute a synthetic fertilizer by ½ or add organic material, such as worm castings or fish emulsion, to the soil mixture.

Calathea Zebrina

Calathea Zebrina
My Little Jungle

Calathea zebrina’s leaves are bright green with bold stripes of white, yellow, or pink in a feather pattern. The plant grows to 3 feet (1 m) in height and width. The foliage reaches 2 feet (61 cm) in length. Avoid direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves and fade coloring. Provide diffused, indirect light from a North-facing window if possible.

Water these Calathea types, on average, once per week. Test soil moisture by inserting a finger and provide water if the top 1 inch feels dry. Use room temperature distilled or rainwater to avoid leaf damage. Water often in the spring and summer, less in the winter.

Keep temperatures of between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 Celsius). A humidity level of 60 percent or higher is recommended. Mist the plant’s leaves several times per week to increase humidity.

Grow these Calathea varieties in a well-draining soil mixture. African Violet mix works well, or mix your own with 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite. The soil should hold moisture but provide enough drainage so water doesn’t pool on the surface. Feed the plant once every two weeks with ½ strength, liquid houseplant fertilizer. Feed in the spring and summer only.

Calathea Musaica

Calathea Musaica

Also known as the “network” Calathea, Calathea musiaca features two-toned leaves in an intricate, mosaic pattern. These Calathea types reach a height of 2 feet (0.6m). The blooms are small, white flowers appearing on short stalks, though flowering indoors is rare. The plant will tolerate a wider range of lighting than Calathea varieties, but prefers bright, indirect light from a North or East-facing window.

Water with rainwater or distilled water when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Soak the soil until the water runs through the pot’s drainage holes, then empty the drip tray of excess water. 

Avoid exposing your plant to hot or cold drafts, keeping the temperature between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius). Humidity levels of 50 to 80 percent are acceptable. Increase humidity by filling a tray with pebbles and water, placing it beneath the plant’s pot.

Use a houseplant soil mix amended with perlite and coarse sand to improve drainage. Adding 10 percent organic material, like worm castings, to the soil mix will aid with growth. Feed with a liquid houseplant fertilizer at ½ strength once every 4 to 6 weeks in the spring and summer.

Calathea Rufibarba

Calathea Rufibarba

Most varieties of Calathea rufibarba have two-toned, green leaves. The undersides are deep purple with a fuzzy texture. These slow-growing Calathea types reach a height of 2 to 3.5 feet (60 cm) tall. Provide bright, indirect light, avoiding full sun that damages leaves. Too little sunlight will stunt growth.

Water every five days, or when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry when a finger is inserted. Use filtered or rainwater to avoid leaf damage from tap water’s chemicals. Ensure the plant’s pot has drainage holes and pour out any excess water collected in the drip tray after watering.

Grow this Calathea type in a well-draining soil mix of equal amounts potting soil, coco coir, and perlite. Add organic material, like worm castings, as a long-term fertilizer. Supplement feedings in the spring and summer with a ½ strength liquid fertilizer light in Nitrogen. 

Calathea types of plants have very particular needs but the effort is worth it for their beauty. The key is frequent waterings and indirect sunlight to keep their foliage at its best. With a little effort, these Calathea varieties make a stunning addition to your houseplant collection.

Calathea Types FAQ

Are Calathea Plants Toxic to Pets?

No, Calathea plants are not considered toxic and are safe around pets. 

Can I Propagate My Calathea Plant in Water?

No, Calathea does not propagate in water because its roots are too susceptible to root rot. Instead, propagate by dividing mature plants

Will Calathea Grow Outdoors?

Yes, all Calathea types can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 8 to 12, or any tropical climate.

Why are My Calathea’s Leaves Drooping or Curling?

Leaves of Calathea varieties droop or curl when the plant is not receiving enough water. Correct this issue by increasing the frequency of its watering schedule.

Why is Calathea Called a Prayer Plant?

Calathea is also referred to as a Prayer Plant because, at night, its leaves fold up to resemble a pair of hands folded in prayer. 

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