Calatea – Calathea makoyana – Calathea makoyana – Indoor plants – Calatea – Calathea makoyana – Apartment

The calathea (commonly called calatea) is a tropical plant, native to South America, diffused in the wild also in some zones of Asia; in the wild, these plants develop as undergrowth in the pluvial forests, and are therefore accustomed to a warm climate, with few changes in temperature, humid motion and little sunshine. Several species of calatea do exist, but only less than ten are cultivated as indoor plants, plus some hybrids.

They have a splendid foliage, of oval or sword-shaped shape, characterized by lively colour, with contrasting striae; typically, the leaves of calatea have the upper page, green, with white or pale green striae or zonae; the lower page, on the contrary, is often red or purple.

They form ample tufts, with unbranched stems, which carry some big leaves; in spring, or even sporadically during the year, they produce thin stems with round section, erect, which stand out between the leaves, and carry particular inflorescences, formed by coloured bracts, between which bloom small white, pink or yellow flowers. Plants cultivated in flats tend to bloom only if the conditions of cultivation are perfect, which, unluckily, happens very rarely.

The dimensions of a calathea can be various, from the 40-50 cm of the dwarf varieties, up to the metre of the species with very big leaves. Very particular and decorative plants, all over the year, are easily found in the nursery, but their cultivation needs some tricks, because they tend to have very precise requirements and not to adapt to even slightly adverse conditions.

Calathea makoyana

Calathea zebrina

Calathea zebrina Plant native to Brazil, it has erect or curved stems, and large lance-shaped leaves, dark green on the upper page, with light green stripes, and purple on the lower page. The plants of calathea zebrina can easily reach the metre of height, and each individual leaf can be up to forty centimetres long. Very flashy, even in the darkest areas of the house tends to show its bright colors. It prefers a humid climate, and temperatures not lower than 15-16°C, and not higher than 25-28°C.

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Calathea makoyana

Calathea makoiana The Calathea makoyana is a species widespread in nature in Brazil, with large oval leaves, elongated, light green in color, with large darker spots along the veins, the bottom page is clear, pinkish or white, with purplish spots, or reddish. This species is very diffused, and there are also some hybrids of it, with completely pale green leaf and dark spots only on the edge, or also with green and pink spots.

Also the Calathea makoyana prefers a warm and humid climate, with little changes of temperature during the twenty-four hours.

Calathea crocata

Calathea crocata Evergreen herbaceous plant, native to the rainforests of Brazil; it has thin erect stems, carrying large dark, lance-shaped leaves; the leaves of this calathea can be so dark as to look almost black, or chocolate, looking at the plant from a certain distance; approaching us a little we will notice, however, that the top page is dark green (very dark) and the bottom page is dark purple (very dark).

These calatheas are generally those that tend to bloom most likely, so that they are usually sold in bloom already in the nursery, the flowers are carried by thin dark stems, and bright orange bracts subtend yellow flowers. Indeed, it is not always easy to make a calathea bloom again, but flowering lasts even a couple of months, so you can make some effort to encourage it.

Calathea lancifolia

Calathea lancifoliaSpecies native to Brazil, the calatea lancifolia has erect, elongated, sword-shaped leaves; the colouration reminds much calathea makoiana, with pale green upper page and dark green spots, and purple lower page. The stems are thin and very short, and the plant takes on the appearance of a large head of leaves. It prefers warm and humid climates and minimum temperatures not lower than 10-12°C.

Cultivating the calathea

Calathea makoyana piante As we said, these beautiful plants are quite demanding; originating from very different climates from those present in Italy, they are grown almost exclusively in apartments, as they do not like minimum temperatures below 12-15 ° C; Therefore, we find them a place in the house, in a nice pot, not too much ample, containing a rich, porous soil, which holds the humidity; we can prepare a suitable mixture, using a part of soil for orchids (the one with the pieces of bark and the chopped sphagnum) and a part of universal soil, thus giving rise to a soft and rich substratum.

The pot should be placed in a bright area of the house, but where the plant does not receive in any way the rays of the afternoon sun, or the hottest ones, which are harmful to the calathee. They must also be far away from direct heat sources, and possibly in an area of the house where the minimum temperature and the mass are not too different.

The success or failure when cultivating a calathea is often due to watering and humidity environment: these plants need sporadic watering, but love high humidity. So from March to September we water about a couple of times a week, and less for the remaining months, but every time we water we check that the soil is very dry. (but let’s avoid leaving the plants completely dry for many days in a row).

Throughout the year, and especially in winter, let’s vaporize the leaves, every two or three days; to increase the humidity, let’s also provide them with a large saucer, in which we will introduce a few centimetres of gravel, which we will always keep moist. Repottings are carried out every two years, providing the plant with fresh soil and a new pot, because the rhizomatous root system tends to develop over the years. During the vegetative period we also supply a fertilizer for green plants.

Pests and diseases

Calathea leopardina Usually a well cultivated calathea has healthy and luxuriant leaves, which tend to unfold when the sun arrives in the morning, and to roll up in the evening; the presence of dark areas, of curling apexes or of drying leaves is usually caused by errors in the cultivation; the drought and the very dry climate cause the progressive drying up of the leaves; the excesses of watering, on the contrary, tend to make the foliage become soft and floppy, which then dries or yellow.

If we find ourselves in these situations, we must modify the water supplies and guarantee a humid and not excessively warm environment. Also dirty and dusty leaves tend to deteriorate and lose their bright colours; remember to clean the leaves of the calathea, at least every 3-4 months, using a damp microfibre cloth. These plants do not like temperature changes, so before watering them, let’s let the water rest next to the pots, so that it has the same temperature as in the room.

In very arid climates, or in rooms with poor ventilation, it may happen that these plants are attacked by mites and cochineal, which tend to flee as soon as we restore the correct ambient humidity.

Flowering a calathea

Fiori di Calathea Many calatheas sold in nurseries belong to the Croatian species, which blooms more easily than the others; usually, in Europe, it is difficult to have seen a calathea in bloom. This is because these plants tend to produce flowers only after a couple of months of vegetative rest.

If we cultivate a plant always in the same position at home, it will be difficult for it to have a period of vegetative rest, as the climate that occurs is always the “autumn” one and therefore never reaches the flowering season. As it happens for other plants, such as the Christmas star, also the calatheas begin the vegetative rest only if they are in cool climate and with very few hours of sunlight per day.

Then, in November, we will have to move our calathea in a dark room, where the lights are hardly turned on; we will leave it in these conditions for at least a couple of months, and then we will put it back in its place; after another month, about, it should begin to produce the floral stems. Provided that the conditions of cultivation are excellent.

Calatea – Calathea makoyana: Propagating the calathea

calatea insignis These plants produce a thick head of fleshy roots or rhizomes; when we repot our calathea we can divide the head of roots, using a sharp knife, so as to create two specimens with identical foliage; the two plants will be repotted immediately, and kept in a very humid climate, until we notice the new shoots. These plants can also be sown, but the availability of seeds in Italy is decidedly very scarce.

  • calathea pianta Calathea, also known as “calathea”, has tropical origins, which is why the humidity of the calathea is so high that it is not only the most important factor in the development of the calathea, but also the most important.
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