Crazy for Calatheas

If you love houseplants, you have definitely stumbled upon a calathea. Whether it was in a garden center near you or scrolling through your Instagram feed, these incredible tropical foliage plants are just to die for visually. They captivate you with their bright, textured foliage that almost looks painted on. Because of their dazzling looks, these plants can have the “hard-to-care-for” stigma placed on them when the contrary is the truth! Knowing how to properly care for these beauties is the first step to become a crazy calathea expert. 

Today we are going to discuss care and things to look out for when taking care of your new favorite houseplant.


The sun is a huge part of any houseplants’ life, however, calatheas are not so picky about the amounts that they get daily. Many calatheas, depending on the variety, are mid to low light plants. This makes them extremely accessible to most plant collectors as limited light is not a deal-breaker! Alternatively, if you have lots of light in your home, be wary of direct beams of sunlight shining through your windows as these can scorch the calathea leaves, leaving them with sunburn. A good rule of thumb to follow with lighting for calatheas is darker leaves don’t need as much light as bright ones do. 


As tropical plants, humidity is a vital part of being a calathea. If spaces are too dry or too cold, your plant can be subject to illness and pests because it is just not happy that way! You wouldn’t put a polar bear in Florida, would you? (Not without air conditioning we hope). Humidity can be amended by creating a humidity tray from a tray of rocks and filling it with water or buy a humidifier for your plants and give them a spa day everyday.


Water, like humidity, is a huge part of the life force that keeps a calathea thriving. Watering should occur less often and deeply instead of just watering the top layer of soil until it looks wet. You want to see the water pool in the tray that your calathea is sitting in or hold it over the sink until the water completely drains out the bottom. Calatheas should always remain fairly moist but not dripping wet as that can cause root rot. You can check this often by sticking your finger in the soil to test dryness.


Oftentimes, regular potting soil is great for most houseplants. Calatheas may need something a little extra depending on your environment that the plant will be living in. Remember when watering, calatheas like to be moist right? So, we can make sure our soil suits this need by adding elements like orchid bark and cocoa core. Make sure you are not packing your soil too tightly, as the roots will still need air to breathe.  


Calatheas, like any houseplant, can attract pests on occasion. Many times they are easily treatable if you can catch the signs early enough. Some common things you may want to keep and eye on when caring for your calathea: 

  • Fungus Gnats: These tiny gnats can occur when the soil is too moist. This can be aided with fly traps as well as granular insecticide to place in your plants’ soil.
  • Spider Mites: these tiny insects are almost invisible to the naked eye, but you will most likely first see them on the backs of your calatheas leaves as a sticky dew-like substance or even webbing where the stem meets the leaf. These can be treated with foliar insecticide sprays, insecticidal soap baths, and granular insecticide. 
  • Mealy Bugs: These little fuzzy pests are usually easy to spot due to their cotton ball-like appearance. Treat these with foliar insecticide sprays, insecticidal soap baths, and granular insecticide. 

PRO TIP: If you are looking for a more natural insecticide for your calatheas, we have got you covered! Call or come in-store to our garden supply and houseplant Green Team members to see what solution may be best for you. 

Our Fave Varieties available in-store now! (while supplies last):

  • Calathea Rufibarba
  • Calathea Freddie
  • Calathea Leopardina
  • Calathea Ornata
  • Calathea Makoyana
  • Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake)
  • Calathea Medallion
  • Calathea Orbifolia
  • Calathea Setosa Exotica
  • Calathea Setosa Grey Star