The Calathea Medallion is very popular among houseplant owners because of its beauty, size (up to 2 feet tall) and ease of caring. This makes it perfect to grow indoors without having a lot of hassle to deal with.
The plant gets its name because of the roundish shape of its leaves. But, what makes it desirable are its dark green and burgundy colors that are adorned by lovely patterns.
Additionally, they are sometimes referred to as prayer plants because of the way that they fold up during the nighttime. This movement is called nyctinasty, which is caused by their circadian rhythm.
The changes are influenced by the sun which allow the plant to “open up” when there is light. in doing so, it is able to absorb as much light as it can in the forest where large trees are hovering above and filtering the light. Biologically, it is caused by water pressure in the nodes of the leaves of the plant.
However, it is also important to note that they are not true prayer plants which are of genus Maranta.
Calathea Medallion Plant Care
Calathea Medallion Light
The calathea medallion can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions from low light to medium and bright light. However, the latter two are best if you want optimum growth and beautiful leaf variegations.
When there is too little light, you’ll start noticing your plant slow down in terms of growth. Similarly, it will start losing its variegation the darker the conditions get.
But, the worst place you can put is somewhere it receives direct sunlight. Allowing it to stay there for long periods of time will scorch it leaves. That’s because it is used to getting shade in the forest where it is much smaller than other plants. As such, trees and their leaves and branches provide a natural canopy for it.
- This makes your home one of the best places to grow the plant with an east facing window being the most optimal because it gets a lot of gentle light from the sun during the mornings.
- You can likewise give north facing windows a try provided that it received a fair amount of light. Because the U.S. and Canada are north of the equator, north facing windows receive less light than all the other sides. As such, you’ll want to monitor to see how it responds when placed here.
- Both the west and south facing areas offer lots of light. But, they also feature intense sunlight during noon and mid-afternoon. As such, you’ll want to filter the light or keep your plant away from the sun’s rays when positioning it here.
Pro Tip: Clean your plant’s leaves. This makes your plant’s leaves look shinier. Also, wiping the dust from foliage actually helps it absorb more light since there is no debris blocking it. This improves photosynthesis as well as its leaf variegations. But, never use leaf shine which will damage the leaves and make their tips turn brown. Instead, just use a damp cloth.
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Calathea Medallion Temperature & Humidity
As a tropical plant, your calathea medallion grows best when the temperature is steady between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes homes and indoor spaces the perfect spot for it.
Just as importantly, your plant thrives when the thermostat is kept fairly consistent. This can be tricky because of summer and winter. During both times, you’ll be using heaters and air conditioners. Both of which push wind and cause draft, things that your calathea medallion doesn’t like.
As such, it is a good idea to keep them away from these devices. Similarly, open windows or doors where gusts of cool breeze come in are no-no’s. If left in these conditions, you’ll see start to wilt.
One reason is that the plant cannot stand cold weather. Once the mercury drops below 55 degrees, it will begin to experience stress. As such, it is a good idea to make sure that come winter time, the place it lives doesn’t experience sudden drops in temperature.
This is likewise the reason why the plant is best grown indoors. In addition to being well adapted to home conditions, it cannot live outdoors or in the ground in areas that have winter.
Speaking of which, winter also wreaks havoc on this tropical plant because the cold causes dry air. In contrast, your calathea medallion needs high humidity to thrive.
Thus, if you notice the tips of its leaves turn brown or being to curl upwards, it is a sign your calathea isn’t getting enough humidity.
source: wikimedia commons
Watering Calathea Medallion
The calathea medallion is especially picky about water. It does best in moist, damp soil. But, it is susceptible to overwatering. This makes it somewhat tricky.
Damp soil means never allowing the soil to completely dry up. This can be a problem because the plant isn’t drought tolerant. And, if you leave it dehydrated for long enough, its leaf tips will turn brown.
Yet, you need to be careful not to water it too much, too often, or let water stay in the pot. All of these will give your plant wet feet, which exposes it to the risk of root rot.
As such, it is important to deep water your plant. This way, the moisture reaches the soil and allows them to absorb the liquid. Because deep watering involves somewhat soaking all the soil, you want to make sure to allow the plant to drain right after.
This is time consuming often taking between 5 to 12 minutes depending on the size of your pot. However, it also ensures that you avoid soggy soil. And thus, avoid the risk of root rot.
Also, always check the soil before watering. Stick your finger into the soil to a depth of an inch. You want the soil to feel dry. If so, it is time to water again. Otherwise, wait for that level to dry before watering.
As such, using a strict watering schedule isn’t a good idea. You’re better off using your finger to check the soil. This is especially true because the plant will need more water during the summer and a lot less during the winter.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your calathea medallion is sensitive to chemicals in tap water. Thus, you’ll want to either use rainwater, distilled or filtered water. Alternatively, you can let tap water sit at room temperature overnight. This will allow the chemicals to evaporate.
Using hard water or those with lots of chemicals will cause yellow edges on your leaves.
Calathea Medallion Soil
When it comes to soil, your calathea medallion thrives most in moist, well draining sol. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want wet, soggy soil. Allowing your plant to sit in water is one the biggest reasons many houseplant owners unknowingly kill their plants.
Thus, the easiest way to achieve this, especially if you’re starting out, is to get African violet mix. This gives you the features that your calathea medallion needs, which are rich in organic matter, able to sufficiently hold moisture, and well-draining.
Alternatively, you can create your own potting mix. A combination of peat moss and perlite works wonders. Similarly, orchid back and coco coir work as well.
Use a general purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month during its growing season. When winter comes around, stop feeding it as it will take a break from actively growing. Make sure to dilute the dosage by 50%. Otherwise, you run the risk of overfeeding your plant.
Sadly, just like overwatering, too much fertilizer can damage your plant’s root system. Fertilizer often leaves salt residue. And, the more you use, the more potent it becomes.
For this reason it is a good idea to flush the soil once in a while. Doing this twice or three times a year helps remove the salt and mineral buildup that’s left in the soil by fertilizer.
To do this,
- Water the soil thoroughly. You want to slowly water the soil (not over the plant) until you get it all moist.
- Let the water drain through the bottom holes of the pot. As the liquid drains, it will take the excess salts along with it much like rinsing shampoo from your hair. Again, take the time to let it all the excess water drain out.
- Then place the plant back to its regular potions.
While the calathea medallion is a fast growing plant, it doesn’t grow overly large. As such, you don’t necessarily need to prune it often. Additionally, the leaves grow on single stems.
That said, pruning discolored, old, dying and damaged leaves helps keep your plant healthy. So, this will be your focus instead. They key is to get rid of the yellow or brown leaves or parts of the leaves.
To do so, use a sterile knife or pair of scissors. You can likewise use pruning shears. Then cut the section where the problematic stem joins the main stem. If only a part of the leaf is damaged, you can opt to cut only that portion.
Calathea Medallion Propagation
You can propagate calathea medallion via seed, stem cuttings or division. Of the three, division offers the best chances of success. The other two are very difficult to do because they have low success rates.
The best time to propagate this plant is when you repot it during early spring. That’s because it is not a fan of being moved a lot. So, the less you take it out of its container, the better.
Here’s how to propagate calathea medallion through division.
- Carefully take out the plant from its container.
- Dust of any excess dirt.
- Choose a section which has at least one healthy stem and a few roots coming out from it.
- Use a sterilized knife to cut out that section. This will be your new plant.
- Place the mother plant and separated plant into their own containers. Then fill with potting mix.
- Thoroughly water and place in a warm, brightly lit area that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
- Repotting and division will cause sock to the plant. In some cases it will take a week to a month before it recovers and adjusts.
Calathea Medallion Transplanting & Repotting
Your calathea medallion will need to be repotting every 1 to 2 years. Exactly how often will depend on how fast it outgrows its pot. Although, in most cases it will be the middle to the latter end of that range.
The best time to do so is during the spring when it is actively growing. This allows the plant to easily overcome the shock of being moved. Additionally, the fresh soil and larger space allows it to grow faster.
When choosing a pot, you want to go up a size or so (2 inches). This will give it enough space but not too much. However, if you don’t want your plant to grow, you can use the same pot and just untangle the roots and trim them by a quarter to a third. Then, give it fresh soil.
Leaving the plant in a small pot will make it rootbound, which limits its growth. Thus, it’s not a problem if you don’t want the plant to get any bigger.
Here’s ow to repot your calathea medallion.
- Carefully take out the plant from the pot
- Dust off any excess dirt from the roots.
- You will also want to untangle the roots. The more rootbound it is, the more curling you’ll see.
- Put fresh potting soil into your container. If you want it to get bigger, use a pot that’s 2 inches wider than your current container. If you want to stop it from getting bigger, use the same pot
- Insert the plant into the soil and fill the remaining space with fresh potting mix.
- Water thoroughly and place it where it gets bright, indirect sunlight.
Calatheas are great houseplants because they don’t pose any threat to young children or pets. They are non-toxic which means ingesting them won’t cause any poisonous reactions.
However, as with all things you’re not supposed to eat, consumption can lead to discomfort and unpleasant things.
Pests and Diseases
Moisture is always a big problem when it comes to disease. Unfortunately, your calathea medallion
Needs damp soil and high humidity to thrive. So, you’ll want to watch out for fungus gnats, root rot and leaf spots, all of which can happen because of too much moisture.
In addition to moisture, pests love big leaves. That’s because there’s more for them to eat. This makes mealybugs, thrips and aphids popular with this plant. Thus, it is always a good idea to inspect your plant, keep it healthy and clean. Doing this will reduce pest infestation.