Caring for a Calathea roseopicta

Hi Lisa,

Calatheas are beautiful plants but have definite requirements if you want them to look good and not get brown marks on their beautiful leaves.

Calathea Plants are very sensitive to the water you use. Hard water, soft water, fluoridated water, or water of poor quality causes the leaves to turn brown from leaf burn. The best way to water a Calathea Plant is to use distilled water, rain water, or allow your tap water to sit out over night before using it so the chemicals in it can dissipate. Keep the soil moist but never soggy and allow the top 2-3” to dry out before watering. Never allow a Calathea Plant sit in water.

This plant does need bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. to maintain the beautiful colors in the leaves. However, if the light is too bright the colors start to fade.

Feed a Calathea Plant monthly in the spring, summer, and fall with a basic houseplant food diluted to ½ the recommended strength. Don’t fertilize a Calathea if it is not actively producing new leaves.

Another important thing is the humidity. High humidity is a must!  A Calathea Plant gets brown leaf edges when the air is too dry. Humidity can be increased by placing your plant on a tray of wet pebbles (be sure the pot is on the pebbles and not in the water), setting a humidifier close by, or by grouping plants together to create a mini greenhouse effect.

Calathea Plants like temperatures between 65-80 degrees, and do not like cold drafts or temperatures below 55-60 degrees. Excessively hot temperatures cause the leaves to curl.

I know these plants require a lot of care, but they are certainly well worth it. The leaves are often prettier than flowers.

You can read more about Calathea plants in the Popular Houseplant section of the website.