Calathea Zebrina - 6”
Calathea is often known by nicknames such as the zebra plant, peacock plant, or rattlesnake plant due to the plant's eye-catching stripes and veining. Characterized by boldly marked, oblong leaves in a dazzling array of colors. The leaves of most Calathea varieties fold up slightly during the nighttime, revealing the often colorful undersides of their striking leaves.
Plant Care Instructions:
While it may seem counterintuitive for a plant that is considered tropical, calathea plants actually prefer filtered, indirect light or shade. They're used to growing beneath a canopy of trees on the jungle floor and are therefore adapted to brief dapples of sunlight instead of constant harsh rays. In fact, it's best to keep your calathea plants out of direct sunlight, as too much light can burn the leaves and cause their vibrant patterns to fade. You may also notice the leaves of your calathea move throughout the day, often folding upwards at night and opening wider in the morning. These movements are known as nyctinasty and are thought to follow the sun's movement in the sky in an attempt to maximize light absorbency in the wild.
Moisture is of utmost importance to a calathea plant, so opt for a soil blend that retains water well. A peaty potting mixture that is lightweight and airy works best, as does any specialty mix geared towards African violets. Be sure to plant your calathea in a pot with drainage holes at its base; although it likes moist soil, it is still susceptible to root rot if it becomes waterlogged. Additionally, calathea plants prefer slightly acidic soil, thriving best in an environment with a pH of around 6.5.
The calathea is one thirsty plant and does best when watered regularly in order to maintain a consistently moist (but not soggy) soil. Depending on your home environment, this could mean watering your calathea plant every few days, once a week or once every other week—the most important rule of thumb is to never let the soil dry out. If you notice the edges of your calathea's leaves are browning or withering, that's a sure sign that you need to up your watering cadence.
Balmy temperatures are your best bet when it comes to keeping your calathea happy. Choose a spot in your home that's consistently toasty—calathea thrive when kept at temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but can tolerate a drop down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (but no lower). Keep your calathea away from any cold drafts and up the surrounding humidity as much as you can, either by selecting a spot in your home that's naturally more humid (like a bathroom or kitchen) or by placing a humidifier nearby. Terrariums are also a great option given their naturally humid conditions—you'll just need to find one large enough to host calathea's sprawling leaves.
For the best results (and a luscious, full plant), treat your calathea once a month with a liquid fertilizer at half-strength throughout the spring, summer, and fall, tapering off in the winter months when it naturally grows less.