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Calathea plants are one of the most recognizable and beautiful tropical plants in the world. They are occasionally mistaken for Snake Plants with their spectacular patterns and large, elegant leaves. Calatheas are quickly becoming popular indoor houseplants in homes worldwide, so keep reading for the best tips on caring for these types of plants and how they can make a superb addition to your home!

calathea rattlesnake close up

What is a Calathea Plant?

Calatheas are tropical plants native to the rainforests of Brazil. There are over 300 Calathea varieties. These include the Zebra, Peacock, and Rattlesnake plants. Its name is due to the plants’ exotic patterns and colorful veining. 

These are some of the basic requirements for Calatheas:

  • Plant size – Depending on the variety, Calathea plants typically grow about 2-3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. Dwarf varieties can be as small as 6 inches tall. In proper conditions, Calatheas can grow to full maturity within a year.
  • Light – These plants are considered low-light plants as they enjoy indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves and fade the patterns. Calathea leaves often curl and move throughout the day to absorb as much sunlight as possible.
  • Watering – Calatheas should be watered often and prefer consistently moist soil. Once the soil dries two inches below the surface, it’s time for another watering. These plants are also sensitive to minerals in tap water, so use distilled, filtered, or rainwater when giving a drink to your houseplant.
  • Soil – Use a potting soil that can retain water since moisture is critical for your Calathea’s growth. Furthermore, these plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.5. 
  • Temperature & humidity – These are tropical plants that like warm, humid environments. The ideal temperature range is about 70-85° Fahrenheit. Try to shield your Calathea from low temperatures and cold drafts. Place a humidifier near the plant if you live in a dry region.
  • Fertilizer – These tropical plants bloom in the summer, so plan to feed them about once a month during the growing seasons (Fall and Spring). Use half-strength liquid fertilizer for optimal results. You don’t need to feed your Calathea in the winter when houseplants are usually dormant and don’t grow as much.

Why Choose a Calathea Plant for Your Home?

With stunning patterns, Calatheas are some of the most beautiful tropical plants in nature. Despite their need for low-light conditions and slightly more humidity than average, this plant’s ability to brighten up any room makes it an excellent houseplant. Additionally, they grow to a very manageable height of about 3 feet tall, making them perfect for any sized living space.

These plants also help turn carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen, improving the surrounding air quality. They absorb the toxins in the air, acting as a natural air purifier to better your home’s internal environment. In addition to cleaner air, studies have aimed to determine whether keeping plants in the workplace or at home can minimize our tension, and the findings may astonish you.

Calathea medallion planted in dirt

Calathea Plant Family Relatives

Calathea plants are part of the Marantaceae or the arrowroot family. Plants in the Marantaceae family are often called prayer plants. Marantaceae is quite a large plant family, with over 530 sub-species.

Other popular prayer plants that are closely related to this one include:

  • Maranta
  • Ctenanthe
  • Stromanthe

Final Thoughts – Calathea Plant

Calathea plants are bright, dazzling, exotic plants that are perfect for any household. Even though it has minor quirks that don’t make it quite as easy to care for as plants like the succulent, the Calathea is far from high-maintenance. We even made a Calathea care guide so you can keep those fronds green as long as possible. Keep an eye out for these amazingly patterned tropical plants, and consider one for your household!