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Calathea Plants

Aztec Plants, Calathea

Calathea Plants Overview

Scientific name:

Calathea spp.



Water requirements:


Light requirements:

Indirect Sun


Air Purifying

Table of Contents

Introduction to Calathea Plants

Calathea plants, also known as Calathea spp., are a vibrant and visually striking type of plant that thrive indoors, making them an ideal choice to brighten up office spaces. With over 60 different Calathea species, these plants are native to the tropical regions of the Americas and are beloved for their decorative, patterned leaves and colourful inflorescences.

Unique Qualities

What makes Calathea plants so special? For starters, they have absolutely gorgeous foliage unlike any other houseplant. Their leaves come in a stunning array of colours and feature mesmerising stripes, spots, and feather-like patterns. Beyond aesthetics, Calatheas also purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. Between their eye-catching beauty and air cleansing abilities, it’s easy to see why Calathea plants make fantastic additions to offices and other indoor spaces.

Well-Suited for Offices

Calathea plants thrive under the controlled environments typically found inside offices. They prefer indirect sunlight, which is usually abundant near office windows and skylights. Calatheas also enjoy the ambient warmth and humidity maintained by HVAC systems in these spaces. Furthermore, research shows that having plants like Calathea around improves productivity, and overall wellbeing – perfectly complementing the office setting. With the right care, these tropical beauties will flourish on desk tops and shelves, adding natural vibrancy to any workspace.

Detailed Description of Calathea Plants

Calathea plants are known for their stunning foliage, featuring colourful patterns and shapes that capture attention. There are around 60 different Calathea species, displaying a remarkable diversity of leaf forms, markings, and colours. The leaves of many Calathea varieties are oval or elliptical in shape, often with striking symmetrical designs, resembling painted works of art.

Appearance and Growth

The leaves of Calathea plants can grow quite large, up to 2 feet long in some species like the Calathea zebrina. However, more commonly grown houseplant varieties reach mature sizes of 1-2 feet tall and wide. The foliage tends to be low-growing and spreading or clumping in habit. New leaves emerge rolled up and gradually unfurl to reveal their full splendor. The plants are evergreen perennials in their native tropical environments but are grown as annuals or houseplants in temperate climates.

Distinctive Leaf Features

What makes Calathea plants so special is the incredible diversity of leaf patterns and colours across the genus. Here are some of the most distinctive features:

  • Intricate stripes, zig-zags, and spirals in combinations of green, yellow, white, and pink
  • Vibrant brushstroke-like midrib designs in contrasting hues
  • Subtle but stunning variegation with different shades of green
  • Iridescent shimmer or sheen to leaves
  • Vivid purple, red, or brown undersides

The striking foliar displays have earned species like Calathea roseopicta the common name “peacock plant”. Other popular varieties include the “rattlesnake plant” (Calathea lancifolia) with elongated wavy green leaves and striking purple undersides.

Sensitivity to Light and Water

One defining feature of Calathea plants is their sensitivity to environmental conditions, which gives them a reputation as being “fussy” houseplants. However, with proper care they will thrive indoors. Calatheas demand consistent moisture and indirect light to support lush growth. Too much sunlight can scorch and fade their vibrant leaves. Meanwhile, irregular watering leads to leaf browning, curling, and crisping at the edges. Their expressive foliage indicates when conditions are less than ideal.

While demanding, their sensitivity and visible response to suboptimal care makes Calathea plants excellent indicators of overall indoor environmental health. When a Calathea plant is thriving with glossy, uncurled leaves, it signals that temperature, humidity, light, and watering frequency are all properly balanced to support healthy plant growth.

Optimal Care Guide for Calathea Plants

Light Requirements

Calathea plants prefer bright but indirect sunlight. Direct sun can scorch their leaves, so it’s best to place them near a bright window where they receive gentle, filtered light. An east or west-facing window is ideal. If you only have a south or north-facing window, try placing your calathea several feet back from the window to prevent direct sun exposure. You can also use sheer curtains to help filter the light.

Watering Schedule

Calathea plants like consistently moist soil but do not tolerate soggy conditions. Aim to water your calathea when the top inch of soil feels dry. During the growing season in spring and summer, you may need to water as often as every 4-7 days. In Autumn and winter, allow the soil to become slightly drier between waterings, but do not let it dry out completely. Always water thoroughly until it drains from the bottom of the pot to prevent a buildup of mineral salts.

Temperature and Humidity, Soil and Potting Tips

  • Temperature – Calathea plants thrive in warm temperatures between 18-23°C. Keep them away from cold drafts.
  • Humidity – High humidity is key! Mist calathea leaves daily or place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water. Aim for 40-60% humidity.
  • Soil – Use a well-draining potting mix amended with compost or worm castings. Calathea prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0-6.5.
  • Potting – Choose a pot with drainage holes using a quality potting mix. Re-pot every 2 years in early spring when roots are actively growing. Go up just one pot size to prevent overwatering.

By providing calathea plants with indirect light, frequent watering, warm temperatures, and high humidity, you can keep them looking lush and vibrant in any office environment. Don’t hesitate to make adjustments based on your specific conditions to find the optimal care regimen.

Benefits of Calathea Plants in the Office

Incorporating vibrant Calathea plants into office spaces provides a range of benefits that can enhance workplace environments. Their lush green foliage and captivating patterns not only add visual interest but also purify indoor air. Studies have shown that employees working in spaces with plants report lower stress levels, increased productivity, and greater job satisfaction.

Air Purification

Calathea’s large leaves actively filter toxins like formaldehyde and benzene from the air through a natural process called phytoremediation. By removing these pollutants, Calatheas create healthier indoor breathing environments that reduce irritation and illness. This is especially impactful in modern airtight office buildings where ventilation is limited.

Stress Reduction & Improved Focus

The vibrant colours and textures of Calathea plants have been found to lower physiological arousal, heart rate, and blood pressure, leading to measurable reductions in worker stress. Studies also indicate that visual access to plants improves concentration, heightens attentiveness, and increases productivity. The movement of Calathea leaves can be particularly mesmerising, providing a positive distraction to recharge mental focus.

Enhanced Creativity & Collaboration

Natural elements like plants foster creativity, idea generation, and innovative thinking. The presence of Calatheas sparks curiosity and conversation, bringing employees together. Shared caring for office plants also builds community and connectivity. Cohesive teams that cultivate plants together are more collaborative, loyal, and invested in their work.

Greater Wellbeing & Engagement

Employees with access to natural elements like Calathea plants in their workspace report higher job satisfaction, better health, and greater organisational commitment. Living plants are uplifting and energising, making employees feel valued through environmental enhancements. Happier, healthier, and more engaged teams positively impact productivity, performance, and retention.

Common Issues with Calathea Plants

Caring for Calathea plants can be rewarding, but these tropical beauties do require some special attention to thrive indoors. By understanding the most common issues Calatheas encounter and how to resolve them, you’ll be well equipped to maintain the health and vitality of your plants.

Preventing and Treating Leaf Curling

One of the most frustrating problems with Calatheas is crispy, curled leaves. This is typically caused by either under or overwatering. Calathea prefer consistently damp (but not soggy) soil. Allow the top inch to dry out between waterings and be sure the pot has drainage holes. If leaves do start to crisp and curl, trim off the damaged areas. Adjust your watering schedule to prevent further curling.

Managing Leaf Yellowing

Yellow, wilting leaves often indicate overwatering. Check that water isn’t pooling under the pot and allow soil to dry out more between waterings. Leaf yellowing can also be caused by improper watering technique. Always water at the base of the plant, not from above, to keep moisture off delicate foliage. Inadequate humidity can also cause yellowing along leaf edges – aim to keep humidity around 60%.

Preventing Root Rot

Root rot is perhaps the most lethal Calathea killer. It’s caused by overwatering and poor drainage. Repot plants in a well-draining potting mix, allow soil to partially dry out between waterings, and remove standing water in saucers promptly. At the first sign of root rot, repot the plant in fresh, sterile soil and discard the damaged roots and soil.

Maintaining Ideal Growing Conditions

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to Calathea care. Maintain warm temperatures (18-23°C), medium to bright indirect light, and humidity around 60%. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry and use lukewarm purified or distilled water. Mist leaves regularly to increase humidity. Following these simple tips will help avoid many common problems.

By understanding what causes leaf curling, yellowing, and other issues, you can take steps to maintain optimal growing conditions and nip problems in the bud. With the right preventative care, your Calathea will continue gracing your home or office with its striking foliage.

Fun Facts and Trivia about Calathea Plants

One fascinating fact about Calathea plants is that they have a specialised structure at the base of their leaves called a “pulvinus.” This acts like a tiny motor, causing the leaves to move up and down throughout the day. The pulvinus works by shrinking and swelling cells, creating visible movement. It’s an ingenious adaptation that helps Calathea plants capture the most sunlight.

Calatheas are also nicknamed “prayer plants” because their leaves appear to lift upwards in prayer towards nightfall. The leaves fold vertically at night to conserve energy and water. Then they reopen to greet the morning light. This rhythmic dance gives Calathea plants a magical, spiritual quality.

In some South American and Indonesian cultures, Calathea plants are believed to harbor spirits or serve as spiritual gateways. Their mesmerising leaf patterns are incorporated into traditional clothing, baskets, and artwork as symbols of the spirit world.

One species, the Calathea zebrina, has earned the common name “zebra plant” due to its striking striped leaves resembling a zebra’s coat. But every Calathea species has uniquely dazzling leaves – no two are exactly alike in their markings.

While most houseplants hail from tropical forests, Calatheas thrive in swampy, marshy areas of the Americas. They have specially adapted to handle wet roots and high humidity. This makes caring for them quite different from other indoor plants.

With over 300 diverse Calathea species and cultivars to collect, these plants offer virtually unlimited variety. From the intricate herringbone patterns of Calathea ornata, to the splashy colour-splotches of Calathea roseopicta ‘Dottie,’ no two leaves are exactly the same.

Call to Action

After learning all about the unique qualities and optimal care requirements of Calathea plants, you may be inspired to bring some of these vibrant tropical beauties into your own office space. Calathea plants can truly enhance any workspace with their colourful foliage, air purifying abilities, and stress-reducing effects. Now is the perfect time to explore options for acquiring your own Calathea plants.

Obtaining Calathea Plants for Your Office

If you don’t already have trusted plant providers, I highly recommend getting in touch with the experts at Aztec Plants. They offer helpful guidance and quality assurance to ensure your new Calathea plants thrive.

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