Calathea Freddie (Calathea concinna) is a beautiful foliage plant that’s known for its stunning striped leaves.
Like many other houseplants, it is tropical in natural. You’ll find it in the forests of Brazil and other countries in Central America.
As with other Calathea plants, the ‘Freddie’ is considered a prayer plant. Thus, you’re not imagining things if you see it moving.
It will adjust its leaves depending on the time of the day. Often, they’re most noticeable during sunrise and sunset when the dark turns to light and light turns to darkness.
During daytime when there’s a lot of light, it will open their leaves to the sun to get as much light as they can. Once the sun disappears, they will close their leaves to return to their resting position.
The plant will grow to about 10 to 24 inches tall. Thus making it perfect for different rooms in the home.
Calathea Freddie Plant Care
Calathea Freddie Light
Calathea Freddie does best in bright locations as long as it stays away from direct sunlight. Similarly, too much sun or intensity can damage its leaves or cause them to fade in color.
In its natural habitat, the plant is a tropical forest floor dweller. As such, it is used to having some kind of shade overhead thanks to the larger plants and trees, their branches and leaves.
As such, it does better in medium to bright light conditions that are either filtered or dappled. Outdoors, it will appreciate bright shade.
That said, you also want to keep it away from areas with too little light. This will cause it to lose its beautiful patterns as it will adjust to absorb more light. In order to do so, its leaves will become more solid green.
Also, don’t be surprised if you see the plant moving. It belongs to a group of plants called prayer plants because it leaves open and close depending on the time of day.
At night, when there isn’t a lot of light available, it will close its leaves to go into its resting position. But, come daytime, it will open its leaves once it detects light in order to absorb as much of it as it can.
Putting all these things together, the best location in your home for your plant are:
- North windowsill. This will give it the medium to slightly bright light (depending on where you live) to keep it happy without direct sunlight.
- East facing window. You want to check where the sun’s rays hit so you can position the plant just outside of that radius. The gentler morning sun allows the plant to enjoy much brighter light here with little risk of too much light or direct sunlight.
- West facing window. Keep the plant at least 3 to 6 feet from the window. Your gauge will be the afternoon sun which is the most intense. You want to keep the plant away from that. Similarly, you can keep it closer to the window if you place curtains or blinds to filter the light.
- South facing window. This location is a double threat. It combines the intense afternoon sun plug gives the longest hours of direct sunlight. So, you want to shield the plant more here than in any other spot. One or the other (too much bright sun for too long or direct sunlight) is enough to damage the plant’s leaves. Together, they’re more potent.
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Calathea Freddie Temperature
Calathea Freddie enjoys the same temperature that we humans do. Thus, keeping the thermostat between 65 and 75 degrees indoors will make it happy and grow optimally.
Since it grows in tropical environments, it likes warm conditions. As such, it can take levels higher than 75 degrees. So, you have more leeway here up to 85 or even 90 degrees. You don’t want to get to 90 or higher though.
But, the same isn’t true for cooler conditions. You want to keep the plant away from areas the experience temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Its warm climate preference means it can live outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11. In cooler areas, you can still bring it outside during the warmer months.
But, once temperatures approach 60 degrees sometime in the fall, you want to bring it indoors. It cannot tolerate freezing conditions or frost. If left outdoors through the winter, it will die.
Calathea Freddie Humidity
In addition to warm conditions, the Calathea Freddie also likes humid environment. Again, this is from its native habitat.
As such, it ideal humidity is at least 70% or 75%. But, the higher the better. The good news is, it can tolerated medium humidity, albeit, it won’t be able to grow as well as it should.
If you notice brown leaves, or dry tips and edges, it is likewise not getting enough moisture. Similarly, curling is another symptom of this.
One solution here is misting. Although, I don’t highly recommend for a few reasons. These include:
- Its effects are very temporary.
- You need to keep misting over and over, making it very time consuming.
- It is easy t spray too much water on the leaves which increases the risk of bacterial and fungal infection.
- Misting cannot push moisture levels up as high as other methods. This means you’ll want to mist very often which increases the risk of excess moisture on the leaves.
So, what should you do instead?
- Place the plant in the bathroom. Since it doesn’t mind medium or even low light, as long as your bathroom has enough light, it will keep the plant happy.
- Group it with other plants. This method is hands-off. Just make sure to give enough space for air circulation between plants for excess moisture in their leaves can dry quickly.
- Pebble tray. Also hands-off. Just set it and forget it. You only have to refill the water tray when the liquid has evaporated.
- Humidifier. This needs a bit more maintenance. Plus it is costlier. But, if you need to bring up humidity by a bigger amount, you’ll need one. It is also the most precise not to mention able to provide the most consistent levels.
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Calathea Freddie Watering
Calathea Freddie enjoys moist but not soggy or saturated soil. It can also take some dryness with the ability to bounce back from dehydration once you water it.
However, it is less able to recover to overwatering. As such, this is the number one thing you want to avoid.
The problem here is that because it likes moist soil, you need to find the balance between that and too much water.
This can easily happen as the plant needs regular watering during its growing season in order to keep it moist. So, the best way to do this is to wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of top soil get dry before watering again.
Otherwise, you can easily waterlog the plant, leaving it to sit in water. This, in turn, will cause root rot.
In the winter, scale back on watering as the plant won’t need as much. You can likewise allow the soil to dry a bit more without any consequence.
Yellow leaves are a sign that you’re watering too much or watering too often. Although it can mean other things as well. So, if you see lots of leaves starting to or turning yellow, feel the soil. If it feels moist, you’re likely overwatering. If the soil feels dry, check the other potential issues.
On the other hand, a wilting or sad looking plant with drying out leaves means it lacks water. The good news is, once you water it, you quickly notice it perk right back up the next day or so.
Soil for Calathea Freddie
Choosing the right soil will help prevent overwatering. Because your Calathea Freddie is susceptible to root rot but likes moist conditions, you want to provide it with soil that:
- Holds enough water to stay moist (and provide it with sufficient hydration and nutrients).
- But, well-draining enough to remove excess moisture in the soil so the plant wont sit in water.
Additionally, well-aerated soil or soil that’s loose will allow oxygen and water to easy pass as through and reach the roots as well.
One way to achieve this is to use 2 parts peat combined with 1 part perlite. The former helps with water retention, whereas the latter speeds up drainage.
If you have high quality potting soil that you use for your other plants, you can likewise use that and add perlite to improve drainage.
Calathea Freddie is a fairly light feeder. But, it does need plant food. Without any fertilizing, the plant will grow slowly.
To help it along, apply balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month in spring and summer. You don’t have to feed it in the winter as it isn’t actively growing at this time.
Similarly, you can use a slow release fertilizer. These come in pellet form. And, they slowly release the dosage over the span of weeks and months. As such, you only need to feed the plant 3 times a year.
Whichever you choose, make sure not to overfeed the plant. Too much fertilizer will cause root burn, which is not reversible.
Similarly, avoid cheap fertilizers just to save a few bucks. While you don’t need to spend on high end organic fertilizer, good quality synthetics will work without a problem.
Low quality fertilizer or cheap products leave a lot of salt residue that will damage your plant.
Calathea Freddie Pruning
When it comes to grooming and maintenance, you have a few tasks to consider.
Your Calathea Freddie doesn’t need a lot of pruning. So, you don’t have to spend a lot of time there.
But, you want to take the time to remove dead, damaged or discolored leaves as these will use up valuable nutrients and resources that can be funneled to healthier parts of the plant.
You also want trim it to keep it neat and nice looking.
Finally, trim the leggy stems so they can regrow.
Pruning helps encourage new growth. As such, create a fuller plant.
The other part of maintenance is dusting and cleaning its leaves. Stiped leaves will trap more dust. Because the leaves are what absorb sunlight for photosynthesis, you want them to be as clean as possible to absorb as much light as possible.
So, cleaning them with a damp cloth regularly helps them do this. It also keeps the pores clear of debris.
Calathea Freddie Propagation
You can propagate your Calathea Freddie through division. But, before you do, make sure that the plant is big enough. You’ll be taking a part of the plant, which leaves you with a smaller parent plant.
As such, if the mother plant is still small, you’ll end up with two much smaller plants.
The best time to do this is in the spring and or early summer. This will give the plant the ability to quickly recover and grow.
It is likewise a good idea to do it at the same time you’re repotting since you’ll be taking the plant out of the container.
Here’s how to divide Calathea Freddie.
- Choose a healthy stem and trace it down into the soil. You want to make a mental note of where you may be able to separate the plant.
- Carefully take the plant out of its container.
- Check the root ball. You cand to remove any excess dirt and soil. Then separate the roots.
- Now trace the stem you chose and see where its roots appear. This will let you know where to separate the rootball to make a “clean division”.
- Use your hands or a sterile knife to separate that section of the root ball.
- Once you have two plants, repot the mother plant into its pot and fill will fresh potting mix.
- Pot the new plant in fresh soil as well.
- Water both plants.
- It will take a while for the plants to adjust. The mother plant from the shock. And, the new plant to adapt to its new how.
- After a few weeks you should see them start growing again.
Transplanting & Repotting Calathea Freddie
Your Calathea Freddie will need to be repotted every 2 years. However, it is better to check the plant for roots that are growing outside the pot or trying to break out from the soil.
Once you see this happening, it is a sign that the plant has outgrown its current home.
When repotting, you want to have a few things in mind.
- Do it in the spring or summer. Ideally on a day that’s not rainy, too hot or too cold.
- The plant will experience shock. So, you want to keep the shock to a minimum. You can water the plant 24 hours before your repot. Additionally , repotting in its growing season helps it recover quicker. And, don’t jar the plant if it is stuck. This can happen with pot bound plants.
- Prepare a slightly bigger container. At most go 3 inches bigger. But ideally, 1 to 2 inches is enough.
- Have fresh, well-draining potting soil on had.
Another thing to consider is that you can divide or separate the plant to reduce its side. Division lets you propagate the plant so you have more of them. In the process, you also reduce the size of the mother plant. Thus, eliminating the need to move it to a bigger container.
Calatheas are not toxic to people or animals. So, you can keep it anywhere you want.
That said, it is still not a good idea for kids to chew on it as it can become a choking hazard.
Pests and Diseases
Calathea Freddie is fairly resistant to pests and disease. As such, you may never have to deal with any of them. But, you want to keep the plant healthy. By giving it the proper living conditions listed above, it will be able to keep these problems away.
On the other hand, stress from too much or too little light, water, humidity and other factors will make it prone to them.
This is when pests come attacking. The most common problems will involved spider mites. These are dangerous because they suck the sap out of your plant. In a way, it’s like sucking the life out of your plant gradually, since sap contains moisture and nutrients your plants need to survive and grow.
Neem oil is a good treatment to use if you spot these critters or damage they’ve done.
On the other hand, excess watering can result in root rot. This is a very dangerous fungal disease that can damage and destroy your plant. As such, you want to avoid overwater or letting the plant get wet feet.