The plants of the genus calathea are some tens, native to the tropical zones of Asia and of the austral continent; they are cultivated as apartment plants, in particular, they are much appreciated for their foliage; in fact, the calatee are characterized by big leaves, of various shape, oval, roundish or elongated. Each species has leaves of different colouration, but always variegated, striped, or with the edge in contrasting colour with the rest of the foliar page.
The back of the leaves of calathea is generally purplish, or brown in colour, and often the long rigid stems carrying the leaves are also dark. In the wild, the calatae also show a particular blooming, during the spring months they produce thin rigid stems, which carry some yellow, orange or white flowers, united in short ears; each flower is subtended by a long coloured bract.
Hardly the calatee bloom if cultivated in pot, even if the calatea crocata often produces some flowers even in apartment.
The Calathea plants need to be placed in a fairly bright area of the house; they can bear quite well also the shade, but often they lose of brightness in the colours of the foliage if placed in completely shaded places; they fear the direct sunlight, therefore even in summer, if moved outside, they are to be cultivated in a place sheltered from the direct sun.
They prefer minimum temperatures above 15-18°C, therefore they need to be cultivated in an apartment during the cold months. They develop a rhizomatous root system, quite wide; every 2-3 years it is advisable to repot the plants, when the roots have completely occupied the pot containing them; let’s use a good, rich and light soil, adding a little pumice stone, to improve drainage.
During the months of greatest vegetative growth, from March to October, let’s provide fertilizer for green plants, every 12-14 days, dissolved in the water of watering.
Characteristics of the leaves
Pale green colour and dark green bands
Oval shape, dark green colour with purple reflections and grey spots
Bright green color, rippled
Acuminate, light green in colour
Dark green stains on top page, dark red bottom page
Dark green colour with emerald green ribbing
Lanceolate shape, olive green spots on the upper page and purple red spots on the lower ones
Oval shape, pale green in colour
- The calathea (commonly called calatea) is a tropical plant, native to South America, widespread in nature even in some areas of Asia, in nature these plants develop as a subtropical plant.
- Do the dried flowers need to be cut? If you are at what distance from the leaves… thank you…
- The calathea, also known as “calatea”, has tropical origins, which is why the humidity of the environment surrounding it is of fundamental importance in its cultivation.
- The life of the flowers can be “extended”, so to speak, thanks to the use of drying techniques, which allow the conservation of plants and flowers for a long period of time. The beauty …
The name Calathea comes from the Greek kalathos, or basket, probably because of the shape of the inflorescence of some species of the genus or because of the baskets that are made with the leaves of these plants by the natives of South America.
The origin is certain and are the tropical forests of South and Central America (especially Brazil, Colombia, Peru, southern Mexico). The genus Calathea includes about 300 species of rhizomatous, herbaceous, perennial and evergreen plants for greenhouse or apartment, cultivated for the characteristic beauty of the leaves.
As it happens for many tropical plants, also for the calatee the health and the luxuriance of the plant are strictly linked to the ambient humidity; let’s check the soil often, avoiding to leave it dry for prolonged periods of time, therefore let’s water regularly, but without soaking the substratum too much. During the whole year let’s remember to increase the humidity around the calatee by vaporizing the canopy.
We can also grow these plants by placing the pot in a cachepot filled with expanded clay, which we will keep moist, so that the roots of the plant will remain in the slightly moist soil, but the evaporation of water from the clay will allow us to obtain around the foliage a constantly moist environment.
Some cultural care
When cultivating a Calathea it is fundamental to keep its foliage always healthy and luxuriant; regular repottings, watering and fertilization can guarantee a healthy plant and a correct vegetative development. To keep the foliage healthy and beautiful, it is best to periodically remove dried or damaged leaves, cutting the long stem at the base; it is also important to take care to periodically clean the large leaves, which, especially during the winter, tend to accumulate dust and dirt.
Therefore, remember to clean them gently, using a damp microfibre cloth, with which to remove all traces of dust. In this way we will remove also possible specimens of cochineal, which often nest on the lower page of the foliage.
Propagation of Calathea
Being a rhizomatous plant, the propagation takes place by division of the rhizomes themselves. We proceed by dividing a rhizome but being careful to leave for each portion leaves and roots apparently quite robust. The multiplication procedure should be done with temperatures never lower or higher than 16-18°C, utilizing a substratum formed by a porous, light and very acid mixture, such as, for instance, earth of leaves and peat in equal parts, with addition of sand or perlite.
In case the aerial part deteriorates do not be discouraged because the rhizome may sprout again.
Diseases and adversities of Calathea
The main adversity of the Calathea is the red spider, a mite that finds its ideal habitat in hot and dry environments. If it appears on your plant the best solution is the application of an acaricide product. It can be prevented by keeping the moisture around the leaves high by spraying.
Other opponents may be the low ambient humidity, too strong and direct light. In the first case the leaves dry out and become brown. In this case it is solved by spraying the plants. If, on the other hand, the leaves crumple and appear pale, it means that it has been exposed to direct, strong sunlight. In this case, the Calathea should be placed in a less exposed area.
La Calathea insignis or lancifolia
It is native to Brazil, which can reach 50 cm high. The leaves are spear-shaped, sharp with slightly wavy edges and light green in colour. The characteristic of these leaves is that the upper page has dark green spots at the central nervation, almost always alternating, one longer and one shorter.
The underside of the leaves is dark purplish red in colour. It is perhaps the species that best suits the life in the apartment. It needs frequent spraying and is not subject to attacks of red spider web.
The Calathea mackoyana, also native to Brazil, is also called “peacock plant” and can reach 60 cm in height. It is one of the most common species on the market although it is not very easy to grow. The leaves, reach the 15 cm of length and have long petioles, have an oval shape and are of a pale green colour with darker margins and a fairly symmetrical pattern which extends to the two sides of the central vein, with dark green spots alternating with longer ones.
On the bottom page the drawing repeats itself, but in tones of reddish-green that can go as far as dark red. This species requires high ambient humidity and greater luminosity than the others. It can be easily attacked by mites.
Calatea: Other species
There are many species of plants belonging to the genus Calathea. Some of these:
-• Calathea backemiana with pale green leaves and dark green bands;
-• Calathea crocata with dark green oval leaves with purple reflections and grey spots. The flowers are a beautiful bright orange colour;
-• Calathea grandiflora The leaves are rippled and bright green in colour;
-• Calathea lanciniata The leaves have dark green spots on the upper page while the lower page is dark red. It reaches a height of 60 cm;
-• Calathea lindeniana It reaches the 30-40 cm of height and the leaves are dark green with an emerald green zone along the vein;
-• Calathea louisae It has lance-shaped leaves of the length of 20-25 cm, which have irregular green-olive or grey dots, on the upper page, whilst the lower page appears of a purple-red colour with green margins. It reaches the 40-50 cm of height.
- The Calathea is a very sought-after apartment plant because of its beauty due to its large leaves, colorful
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