Calathea & Maranta
Belonging to the genus Marantaceae, Calathea and Maranta have steadily risen in popularity throughout the last few years. Originating from tropical forests, their beautiful foliage makes them an attractive choice for all types of houseplant enthusiast
Calathea and Maranta prefer bright, indirect light. For indirect light, your plant should be able to see as much of the sky as possible, without seeing the sun. This is typically a space within 2-5 feet of a large window. If you have a south or west-facing window, just ensure your plant is not within the first few feet of the window and does not receive any direct light. Calathea and Maranta can also tolerate less light, but will have a slower growth rate. Remember that in their native environments, they grow at the base of trees and only receive light that is filtered through leaves so too much direct light will cause your plant to develop brown spots (burns) on its leaves.
Calathea and Maranta can be much more particular when it comes to watering than other houseplants. Like most others, they do not like to be left in soggy soil or standing water, but they do not like to dry out very much at all. On the plus side, they will typically give you indicators that they need to be watered, like rolling their leaves inward.
If they roll their leaves, water immediately as this is a sign that they have reached “critical dryness” – the point at which they need water or they will not recover. Remember that the typical sign of dryness – wilting – is not a good indicator for these species as they shift their leaves up and down based on the sun and the time of day. Figuring out a watering schedule can be a little bit of a challenge for these plants so don’t get discouraged if it takes a little time!
Another aspect of watering that should be considered is that many houseplants are sensitive to the additives in our tap water, and Calathea and Maranta seem to be especially. Minerals and salts build up in the soil and cause brown spots to appear on the leaves, so many people use distilled or rain water for them to avoid this problem!
Temperature & Humidity
One of the more challenging aspects of owning a Calathea or Maranta is meeting their temperature and humidity requirements. They are ideally kept at a temperature between 19-27°C and do not tolerate any chilly drafts so be aware of any vents, open windows, or doors in the winter.
Keeping the humidity up around your Calathea or Maranta is critical to maintaining a healthy looking plant. You should be aiming for 60% humidity minimum – anything lower and your plant will develop brown tips and edges on the leaves. Keep in mind, some varieties are much more sensitive and require humidity in the 70-80% range.
Using a humidifier is one of the easiest and most effective methods for raising the humidity levels of your space, or consider using a cloche or closed terrarium. Although some people mist their leaves in an effort to raise humidity levels, it is not effective and can actually increase the likelihood of fungus and disease developing on the leaves so we recommend staying away from this practice!
Growing Mediums & Repotting
Calatheas and Marantas do not like being dried out, so a potting medium that has coco coir, peat moss, or any other additives that help retain moisture are always beneficial. They do not like to be root bound so if you notice roots coiling at the bottom of your pot or peeking out through your drainage holes, it may be time to repot. When you do, remember that your new pot should only be 1-2” larger than your previous pot, and it is best to repot during the active growing season (spring or summer).
To reduce the stress caused by repotting, water your plant the day before you water. When repotting, carefully untangle any roots that have grown into each other and ensure you are not burying the stem in the soil (the plant should be planted at the same height as it was in the original container). Once you are done, water lightly to ensure the soil has settled in the pot.