Plant Highlights: Calathea Plant

Good morning everyone,

In the interest of a new year, we are going full bore with this I am going to be a better blogger this year. It's a goal we set as a team at Oliver and Rust. The house stuff is obviously still happening at home and will still be blogged here but, I am making more of an effort to keep this conversation rolling with news, information, tours, and that kind of good stuff. Is there anything you want to hear or learn about?

Today we are going to start off with a new series called Plant Highlights. Posts that will focus on a very specific type of plant and their care.

One thing I want everyone to remember when it comes to plants because we see it all the time in the store, is this is not a lifelong commitment. There are all different levels of care for plants, learning and patience for what you are willing to give. Think of the money you spend on coffee, lunch, purses and other disposable items. Your plant will be an investment of beauty and clean air for awhile and if it goes caput after a month or 2 you aren't a plant failure. It lasted much longer than cut flowers (still beautiful but they have a week lifespan usually ) and it lasted MUCH longer than your morning coffee. It will bring you some joy and then if it doesn't make it, it's compostable and try again.



and their beautiful leaves

Calatheas are a genus of plants belonging to the Maranta family.  There are dozens of species of Calathea native to the tropics. They are most commonly called Calatheas or Prayer plants.

We like to call them action plants in the shop as they move with the time of day. They open up during the day and close up at night. Some types more than others but it is definitely a gorgeous fun plant to own especially with kids around.

above "Fusion White"

Let's start with basic care items for these plants.

Light: bright indirect light [the most common type of direction for plants]

Too bright of a situation and the leaves will start to brown and crisp as they actually burn and it can also cause the colours to fade. 

above "Medallion"

Water: moist soil. these plants appreciate not being allowed to completely dry out but they cannot tolerate sitting in water as their root system will rot. best method to check your plant needs water is to use your finger [super technical right?] and test if the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. if the answer is yes, it is time to water. if the answer is no, leave the plant for a few more days. Calathea's can also be sensitive to the type of water. I know that sounds odd but some areas have extremely hard water or extremely soft water and this can cause leaf burn. Not sure what you have? Fill your watering can the day before you intend to check your plants for water and the rested water will have lost a lot of its processed issues. Using your rain barrel in the summer is also a great option.

Over-watering in our winter climate is a very common problem with plant death. Our homes are cooler and days are shorter. Plants don't do as much growing as in the summer, so their requirements become a little bit less. Checking your plants prior to watering can save you a lot of heartache instead of being stringent on the "once a week" plan.

above "Concinna"

Fertilizer: you can use a regular all purpose fertilizer all year once a month at half strength to keep your plant going strong. if you notice your plant isn't growing or leaves are burning try to fix the issues it is likely having with water and light before resorting to fertilizer as the fertilizer will likely boost an unhealthy plant into death if everything else isn't right.
i love the convenience of the pump non mixing fertilizer available from miracle gro [canadians find at canadian tire] you pump into the plant and then water.

above "red prayer plant" front

"rattlesnake" back

Temperature: calatheas are goldilocks plants. not too hot, not too cold [ie. no drafts at the front door]. just right.

Humidity: is your furnace or ac cranking? calatheas are tropical high humidity plants that enjoy mist. in the arrangement above, the fusion white plant is hanging out with ferns and pepperomias. the whole arrangement gets misted a few times per week to keep it happy.

if you have a "ton" of plants adding a humidifier to your furnace may be a good option albeit a costly one but one that will also benefit your family. a cheaper easier route is a spray bottle.

Repotting and Aeration: calatheas are great performers in their plastic grower pots and can live happily in them for a long time without requiring repotting. it is also easier for a novice to water this way as you can put the plant in the sink and allow to fully drain before replacing in its decorative location knowing you aren't rotting anything. if you choose to replant in your pretty pot you can add some kind of drainage to the pot AND remember to carefully water your plant checking for wetness along the way.

Aerating.... what the what? So lets think outside for a minute. In a plants natural habitat OUTSIDE there are insects, worms, bugs all kinds of organisms stirring up the soil and moving around the plant allowing the roots to constantly be adjusting to space and growing. Inside, our plants lack that natural push to be better. How to fix that?

You can use a bamboo skewer or one of those millions of extra orchid stakes you have hanging around and gently push the stake into the soil a handful of times around your plant prior to watering. This doesn't need to be all the time but every second or third watering couldn't hurt just to give your plant a nudge to excel.

So, did we all learn a little bit today?

And like I said earlier. If it doesn't work the first time, it doesn't mean you are a failure. It means you didn't have the right combination but who knows maybe next time you'll get a gold star. Bonus part? Getting to have some me time and wander around in a shop or greenhouse breathing in all the oxygen while you pick out a new pot and plant to enjoy at home.

Have a great day everyone,


What I'm listening to:

Return of the Mack: Mark Morrison

You Worry Me: Nathaniel Rateliff & the night sweats

Leave a comment