Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by Admin
The Calathea louisae is a beautiful variegated foliage houseplant with stunning patterns. You’ll find a few variations of it indlcuding the Calathea louisae ‘Thai Beauty’ and Calathea louisae ‘Maui Queen’.
While each of them will have specific patterns, they all have one thing in common. This is the large, dark green foliage that’s splattered with light green to yellow patterns.
It is this look that makes them very beautiful to look at.
The plants will grow to around 2.5 feet high and produce leaves that can grow to between 6 to 9 inches long.
It is a native of the South American tropical forest, making it prefer warm over cold climates.
And, being a member of the Marantaceae family, it also folds it leaves up like other prayer plants come night time.
Calathea Louisae Plant Care
One of the reasons the Calathea louisae is easy to care for is that it is well-suited to indoor conditions.
It enjoys bright, indirect light. But, will do quite well in both medium and low light.
This makes it easy to display and find a good spot in your home even if you don’t have a window that receives lots of sunlight.
Like many houseplants, you do want to be careful with direct sunlight. The plant’s native habitat is living under the forest canopy in the tropical regions of Brazil.
As such, while it does receive plenty of sunlight all year round, the larger plants and trees block the sun’s rays. This has made it accustomed to dappled, filtered and indirect sunlight.
Unfortunately, exposing it to direct sunlight or house of intense sun will damage its foliage.
Similarly, it won’t be able to tolerate dark or overly dim locations as well.
Like other variegated plants, it needs a more light than those with solid green leaves. As such, if you leave it in too little light, you’ll notice its leaves lose their variegation and become more green in color.
It is a sign that the plant adapting insufficient light.
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Temperature is another reason the Calathea louisae easily adapts to most households.
Its tropical nature makes it prefer moderate to warm conditions. More importantly, its ideal climate coincides with ours (humans).
This is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you keep indoor conditions within this range, it will grow very well.
The plant can likewise tolerate levels outside the range. But, it is does better on the warmer side than the colder end.
The one thing you want to avoid is allowing it to stay where temperature is below 60 degrees. It is not cold hardy, nor can it tolerate frost or freezing conditions.
As such, once things go below 60 degrees, it will start to experience discomfort. The lower the mercury drops, the more stress it experiences, And, after a certain level will sustain damage.
One of the things you do want to keep an eye out for is humidity. The plant enjoys humid conditions as it hails from tropical South America.
While it does not need as much humidity as other houseplants which require upwards of 70% or some even over 90%, it still needs quite a bit of it.
Your Calathea louisae does best when humidity is kept around 50% to 60%. Unfortunately, this is above what most households usually have (30% to 50%).
Thus, it is a good idea to check the humidity level in your home. You can easily do so with a digital hygrometer which instantly tells you the level in any room in your home.
If humidity is too low, you can use one of the following methods to increase it in order to keep the plant happy.
- Misting it regularly
- Grouping it with other plants
- Place it on pebbles in a water tray
- Using a humidifier
- Moving the plant to a more humid room like the bathroom or kitchen
source: wikimedia commons
How Often to Water Calathea Louisae
Like humidity, water is another aspect of your Calathea louisae’s care that’s a bit challenging.
That’s because it prefers moist soil. But, it is likewise prone to overwatering.
Thus, you need to find a balance between keeping the soil consistently moist while avoiding getting it soggy, wet or waterlogged.
Any of the latter will increase its chances of developing root rot or some fungal disease in the future.
So, the most important thing when watering is to allow the soil to dry between waterings.
This means waiting for the top 2 inches of soil to dry before watering. You can do so anytime between this depth up to about 50% of the soil gets dry.
Within that level, your eliminate the risk of overwatering while staying away from dehydrating the plant.
This is very important because the plant is fussy when it comes to moisture.
If it gets too much water, its leaves will turn yellow. On the other hand, lack of water will result in brown, crispy leaves. Wilting and curling leaves will happen as well. Not to mentions a dull, sad looking plant that has lost its luster.
The one final thing to know about water is that your Calathea louisae is sensitive to chemicals in water.
This makes tap water a bad idea. Instead, I recommend going with rainwater if you receive enough rain in your area. You can collect it and use on your plants.
Another option is distilled water, which I don’t suggest due to the cost over time.
An alternative to rainwater (in case you don’t get enough rain in your locale) is to use tap water but allow it to sit in room temperature overnight to 24 hours. This allows the chemicals to evaporate before you use it to water your plant.
Soil for Calathea Louisae
Since soil plays a supporting role to water in keeping your Calathea louisae hydrated, it become an important aspect of care as well.
The ideal soil for your Calathea louisae is well draining soil.
This kind of soil will hold just enough moisture to keep the plant hydrated. And, will quickly drain out excess water to keep the plant’s roots from sitting in water.
In doing so, it helps you avoid overwatering.
To achieve this kind of soil, you can use any of these recipes:
- 67% peat and 33% perlite, sand or pumice (if you prefer fractions that’s 2/3 peat to 1/3 perlite, sand or pumice)
- 50% potting soil, 20% charcoal, 20% orchid bark and 10% perlite
The first recipe is simpler as it uses only 2 ingredients. So you deal with less math and mixing.
The second recipe requires more ingredients but is also provides a chunkier medium allowing for more aeration.
Feed your Calathea louisae once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength.
The plant is a light feeder. And, its roots are sensitive to too much chemicals (which fertilizers contain). Thus, diluting the recommended dose is very important to prevent fertilizer burn which will damage the roots over time.
Similarly, the type of fertilizer you use can also speed up this process. Avoid cheap, low quality fertilizer just to save a few bucks. These tend to leave more salt residue that will damage the roots.
Organic products are more expensive. But, they also has less mineral leftovers.
Note that you don’t need to spend extra on organic fertilizer. Most good quality synthetics work very well (get the balanced N-P-K one for this plant).
However, I do suggest that you flush the soil every 6 months or so to get rid of any accumulated salts and minerals in the soil. This works as a preventive measure.
Your Calathea louisae is produces one leaf per stem. And, while the leaves can grow to around 6 to 9 inches long, this reduces the need to prune.
It will take a while before its gets bushy. And, even then the leaves don’t get all messy unlike vining plants or those with lots of small leaves in one stem.
That said, you can trim it to keep its size and shape according to how you like it. The denser it gets, the fluffier it will look, which may or may be what you want.
So, you can prune it back a bit.
Also make sure to bring any leaves that have turned yellow or brown. Often then are older leaves. But, do watch out for many leaves turning color at the same time.
This often signals a problem. So, removing them won’t fix the issue. Instead, you’ll need to fix the root cause, which is usually either humidity, overwatering, too much sunlight or too much plant food.
Calathea Louisae Propagation
Division is the ideal method for propagating your Calathea louisae. Stem and leaf cutting are not all that successful with this plant, or most Calathea.
Propagation through seed can work but it takes much longer and also doesn’t produce stellar success rates.
As such, you want to get your hands dirty and divide the plant in order to enjoy its beauty for a long time to come.
To propagate Calathea louisae through division follow these steps.
- Prepare a new container for the divided plant. Also have fresh potting mix on hand for both the plants.
- I prefer propagating outdoors. But, if you do it inside, I suggest covering the floor with old newspaper or plastic. This makes cleaning up after much easier.
- The best time to propagate is when you repot since you’ll be taking the plant out of the container, which it does not like. And, every time you do so, it experiences shock and will need some time before it recovers after.
- Once you have everything ready, gently unpot the plant.
- Find a healthy section (which you’ll separate from the mother plant). You want healthy stems and leaves. Then find their matching roots under the root ball.
- Cut the section away from the mother plant. Make sure to sterilize the knife or blade you’ll be using. Rubbing alcohol is enough.
- Once you have the divided section, change the soil in the current container and partially fill the new container as well.
- Plant the new section and the mother plant into their respective containers.
How to Repot Calathea Louisae
Repotting is another feature of your Calathea louisae that’s less of a priority, at least compared to watering and humidity, which can affect your plant rather quickly.
Since growth will vary according to its living conditions, you’ll likely need to repot anywhere between every 1 to 2 years.
That said, the plant is not fond of being pot bound. As such, once you see roots coming out of the holes at the bottom of the container, it is a sign that it is ready to move to a bigger container.
When transplanting, use a slightly larger container, at most 2 inches. Also prepare fresh potting soil to replace that in the current container.
Do note that repotting does stress the plant. So limit this if possible. And, if you find a good spot for it, refrain from moving it every so often.
Because of post-transplant shock, expect the plant to use the first 1 to 2 weeks to try to recover. During this time after repotting, it likely won’t grow or produce any new leaves.
Don’t prune, fertilizer or try to keep moving it. Instead, allow it to recover.
You can hep it along with sufficient watering, sunlight and humidity. After 2 weeks, it will start growing again.
The Calathea louisae is not toxic to people or pets. This makes it a pet friendly houseplant you can keep around young children without any risk of accidental poisoning due to ingestion.
Pests and Diseases
Pest and diseases thrive on stressed out or unhealthy plants. As such, your best defense is keeping the plant healthy.
Regular inspection also prevents any problem from blowing up before you’re able to treat it. Whether it is pest or disease, finding it early and treating it while it is a small problem is a faster resolution especially with plants.
That said, the plant itself is somewhat its “own worst enemy” when it comes to these issues.
Your Calathea louisae’s love for moisture and damp conditions does make increase the probability of pests and diseases. Root rot, fungus, powdery mildew and leaf spot are all caused by excess moisture.
It large, lush foliage also makes it a target for pests which love these kinds of lives because they get more food from it.
Spider mites, mealybugs and aphids are the most common attackers you’ll encounter.
And, if you spot them or their handywork, immediately isolate the plant and start treatment. You can use neem oil or insecticidal soap. Both are effective, although it takes while to eradicate these critters.
So, early detection is essential.