The Calathea Flamestar is best known for the amazing patterns on its leaves. While they make simple use of different shades of green, they way they colors and pattern are put together make the plant’s leaves very attractive.
Calathea Flamestar Care Summary: Keep the Calathea Flamestar is moist, well-draining soil that is breathable. It enjoys moisture but be careful not to get the soil wet or soggy as it is prone to overwatering and root rot.
For optimal growth, supply bright, indirect light, once a month fertilizer and give it moderate temperature (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and good humidity (50% and above).
The plant can get a bit finicky when it comes to water. Therefore, it is very important to monitor this especially during the initial stages when you’re getting to know the plant.
Once you get watering on point, the caring for the Calathea Flamestar is quite easy.
Calathea Flamestar Plant Care
The Calathea Flamestar is native to the jungles of Brazil. There it lives under the canopy of larger plants and trees. Therefore, it does not get a much direct sunlight.
Instead, it receives dappled light that has been filtered by the foliage of the taller plants.
Nevertheless, like all plants, including other Calathea varieties, it needs light in order to grow and perform photosynthesis to support itself.
This is why the plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light when grown indoors. This allows your Calathea Flamestar to maintain its stunning leaf patterns and keep its colors vibrant.
Just as importantly, giving it this kind of lighting environment allows it to grow optimally and produce numerous, large leaves.
On the other hand, you want to avoid too much or too little light.
- Too much light – in the case of the Flamestar, too much light means very strong, intense light from the sun or from grow lights. With the former, this is direct sunlight. For the latter, it is keeping the bulbs too close to the plant. Either way, both instances can burn your plant’s gorgeous leaves.
- Too little light – the Calathea Flamestar can tolerate some low light. But it won’t grow optimally. And past a certain light threshold, it will slow its growth or stunt it. You’ll also see it become leggy and the plant will bend towards whatever light source it can find. Just as importantly, you’ll see fewer leaves and smaller ones at that with dull colors.
The ideal temperature for the Calathea Flamestar is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As it hails from the tropical regions of South America, the plant can likewise tolerate warmer temperatures. Although, the farther out from the optimal range you get, the slower its growth will get.
That said, avoid leaving the plant in temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time or on a consistent basis. It will experience heat stress which adversely affects its growth and health.
On the other end, the plant cannot tolerate the cold.
This stems from being accustomed to the warm temperatures of the tropics. Therefore, avoid leaving your Calathea Flamestar in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
It is more susceptible to cold injury compared to the heat. Thus the lower the temperature gets, the more risk the plant will be in for damage.
For this reason, the plant is best suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12 if you want to keep it outdoors. In these locations, you can leave it outside all year long.
If you live below Zone 10, it is best to keep it as a houseplant. Although you can still bring it outdoors during summertime when the weather is warm. Just make sure to bring the plant back indoors before the weather drops to 60 degrees around fall.
Since the Calathea Flamestar is native to the rainforest, it is used to a good amount of moisture. This is also means it is a fan of humidity.
Ideally, the plant prefers high humidity of 70% and above. However, this can be difficult to maintain unless you live in a tropical climate, live somewhere near the equator, a body of water or have a greenhouse.
Fortunately, the Calathea Flamestar is also amenable to lower humidity. So as long as you keep indoor humidity at 50% and higher, it will be happy.
I do recommend using a hygrometer to keep track of room humidity especially if you experience different seasons throughout the year. Hot summers and cold winters tend to dry out the air.
Therefore, the hygrometer will immediately let you know when humidity is dropping. This lets you take the necessary measures to keep the plant happy.
In most cases, the simplest way to increase humidity around the plant is to:
- Set up a humidifier
- Place it on a pebble tray
- Move it to the bathroom
- Mist it regularly
- Group it with other plants
How Often to Water Calathea Flamestar
Calatheas are known to be fussy. However, for the most part, the plants get finicky about watering. So once you understand its moisture needs, when and how to water it, general care becomes much easier.
This holds true for the Calathea Flamestar.
For this reason, watering is where you want to put your focus on especially when you first get hold of the plant.
The most important thing here is to avoid overwatering.
This gets tricky because the plant likes moist soil. Therefore, many sites online will tell you to regularly water the plant. This usually gets it into trouble.
The key is to give the plant enough moisture to keep it happy. But err more on avoiding too much water. The latter increases the risk of yellow leaves, root rot and fungal infections.
As such, the best way to know when to water your Calathea Flamestar is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is completely dry. You can stick your finger into the soil or use a wooden stick (like a chopstick).
Only water when at least the top 2 inches of soil is dry, not before that.
You can also be more conservative and water when the soil is about halfway dry. Doing so prevents overwatering and there is no risk of letting the plant go completely dry either.
In general, you’ll end up watering once a week. But during summers, this can go up to 2 or 3 times a week depending on how hot it gets where you live.
During winter, scale back on watering as the cold weather means it takes much longer for soil to dry. Therefore, watering once every 2 weeks or so is better. Always make sure to check the soil before adding more water.
The other thing that makes the Calathea Flamestar finicky about watering is that it is sensitive to water with too many chemicals or minerals. Thus, tap water is not always the best option.
This is especially true if where you live has tap water with lots of fluoride and chlorine added to it.
If this is the case, you can use purified or distilled water. Rainwater is likewise a good option if you get sufficient amount of rainfall where you live.
For most growers, the simplest thing to do is to let tap water sit in room temperature overnight or longer. This will allow the chemicals and minerals to evaporate by morning.
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Calathea Flamestar Potting Soil
The best soil for Calathea Flamestar is well-draining, loose and airy. The plant also appreciates moist soil but it is important to avoid heavy soils or even regular houseplant mixes since these hold too much water.
Too much water retention puts the plant at risk of waterlogging which in turn, increases its risk of root rot. Similarly, avoid overpotting the plant since the extra soil volume means it takes much longer to dry.
As a result, the plant’s roots end up sitting in water for extended periods of time.
Fortunately, making your own DIY potting mix for your Calathea Flamestar is simple. One that works really well combines:
- 50% potting soil
- 20% orchid bark
- 20% activated charcoal
- 10% perlite
The combination of perlite, orchid bark and activated charcoal improve drainage and make the soil loose and chunky. This prevents waterlogging and allows good air circulation to the roots.
Fertilizer is another important aspect of helping your Calathea Flamestar grow optimally. It is worth noting that the plant can go without fertilizer and be perfectly fine.
However, it won’t grow as fast. And it may not produce as many leaves to one that is given the proper nutrients.
That said, the most important thing about feeding this plant is not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer will eventually be toxic to the plant.
And over time, if not remedied, the excess salts that build up in the soil (which are byproducts of the fertilizer), will damage the roots, stems and cause leaf discoloration.
Therefore, use fertilizer in moderation. And flush the soil every few months to get rid of the excess minerals and salts collecting in the soil.
Feeding your Calathea Flamestar is quite straightforward.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer once every 4 to 6 weeks during spring and summer. Dilute the dose by 50% to reduce the concentration.
Pruning your Calathea Flamestar is a low maintenance task because it is mostly composed of leaves. Since its leaves are its crowning glory, it does not make sense to trim them unless you have a good reason to.
The most common is to shape the plant or to control its size. This allows you to manicure its appearance, so it looks the way you want it to.
By trimming on the top or to the sides, you can either make it tall and thin or short and bushy. It’s really up to you.
It is not an overly large plant growing up to 1.5 to 2 feet or so high. Therefore, you may or may not try to limit its size.
The other times you will want to prune your Calathea Flamestar is to remove old, dying, dead or diseased foliage. This will help keep the plant healthy.
It is also a good idea to clean the leaves every now and when because they tend to collect dust.
Dust not only blocks light absorption, it can also clog up the pores prevent water transfer. Finally, dust attracts pests. So, taking a few minutes every 3 or so weeks to wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth goes a long way.
How to Propagate Calathea Flamestar
The most effective way to propagate the Calathea Flamestar is through division.
The best time to do so is during spring. This allows the mother plant to recover quickly and the new plant to grow fast since spring and summer are its growing season.
Propagating during spring also gives the new plant an entire growing season before winter arrives.
Since you’ll be unpotting the plant to divide it, it is a good idea to propagate your Calathea Flamestar when you repot it. That way you don’t need to keep taking the plant out of its container too often (which it does not appreciate).
To Propagate the Calathea Flamestar through Division
- Gently take the plant out of its pot
- Once you have the root ball out, check for any abnormalities in the roots. Inspect for pests and infection as well.
- Then brush off excess dirt and soil to expose things.
- Once the roots are easily visible, you’ll notice natural separations there. You can easily divide them there. You can likewise use a knife to cut these sections off. Make sure to sanitize the blade before cutting.
- Since the roots of calathea are delicate, take your take and carefully divide the roots.
- Plant the new divisions in fresh soil.
Over time, the new divisions will grow into mature Calathea Flamestar.
How to Repot or Transplant Calathea Flamestar
As the plant grows, you will need to repot. In general, the Calathea Flamestar needs repotting once every 2-3 years. This will give the roots enough space to keep growing.
However, the best way to know when the plant needs repotting is to check the plant itself.
To do so, just look at the drainage hole underneath the pot. Once you see roots coming out of the holes, it means they’re seeking more room to grow. That’s your sign to repot.
When repotting, avoid going with an overly large container. Instead, just go up one pot size (2 inches wider in diameter).
This will give the plant enough room to grow. And it lets you avoid too much soil volume.
The latter is important since once you water, excess soil means more water which can overwhelm the roots. It also takes much longer to dry and keeps the roots sitting in water.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Calathea Flamestar is non-toxic. This means you can freely keep in indoors even if you have young kids and pets running around.
That said, the plant is not edible. So you still want to keep the children, dogs and cats from eating its leaves or stems since that will still cause upset stomach or possible gagging.
Calathea Flamestar Problems & Troubleshooting
The Calathea Flamestar is not excessively prone to pests. However, spider mites are attracted to the plant. Mealybugs, aphids and scale can also come around.
And if there’s excess moisture, you may find fungus gnats taking advantage of the conditions.
The best way to keep pests out is to regular clean the plant. You can do so by giving it a shower. Or you can use a damp cloth to wipe down its leaves whenever they start to get dusty.
Additionally, regular inspections allow you to spot pests early when they occur. It is much easier to eradicate them when there are only few. And it takes less time as well.
Root rot is the most serious concern due to the plant’s sensitivity to overwatering. Too much moisture can also cause leaf infections and diseases.
Therefore, take notice of any yellow, brown or curling leaves. These are the plant’s ways of telling you something is wrong and it needs to be fixed.