How to Grow & Care for Calathea Musaica (Goeppertia Kegeljanii)

Calathea Musaica

The Calathea Musaica (Goeppertia kegeljanii) is a unique plant with stunning leaves that resembles a mosaic, thus its nickname. This makes stand out when placed alongside other foliage plants.

While growing only up to 2 feet tall, their oval shaped, light green leaves are oversized for their height. This makes them amazing to look at atop pots and narrow containers.

These plnats are native to Brazil which means they are accustomed to tropical conditions. As such, they are well suited for growing indoors in homes and offices.

Calathea Musaica Plant Care

Calathea Musaica Light

The calathea musaica enjoys medium to bright, indirect light. That’s because in its native environment, it is surrounded by larger plants and trees. As such, their leaves and branches act as a canopy of the musaica. So, it is used to dappled light.

This also means that you want to keep the plant away from direct sunlight, which will scorch and bleach its leaves.

This feature makes it easy to care for the calathea musaica indoors, including homes and offices.

That said, the best locations to put it are near north or east facing windows.

Facing the north provides lower light conditions. As long as it isn’t too dim, your plant will be happy. If you notice it grow slowly or its leaf patterns get lighter, it means it is not getting enough light. Thus, make the adjustment.

Similarly, the calathea musaica is part of the Marantaceae family. As such, you’ll notice its open or fold its leaves depending on how much light it receives. This characteristic is called nyctinasty. When your plant starts moving less or looks more sluggish, it is likewise a sign that it isn’t getting enough light.

Meanwhile, an east facing window is likewise a good spot. Here, it receives a lot of bright but gently morning light.

On the other hand, you want to be more cautious with west and south facing windows. With both, you want to provide your plant some kind of protection so that doesn’t get “burned” by the more intense afternoon sun.

 

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Calathea Musaica Temperature & Humidity

The ideal temperature for your calathea musaica is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant likes moderate to slightly warm temperatures because it comes from a tropical environment. As you would expect, it can tolerate temperatures above 70 degrees as long as it doesn’t get overly hot.

However, the same is not true for colder conditions. Once the mercury drops into the 50s, your plant starts to experience distress. And, the colder it gets, the more damage it will sustain.

Thus, it is essential to keep it away from these conditions.

This is also the reason why you’ll only see the plant grow outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11 all year round. For the rest of the country, you’ll need to bring them indoors when it gets colder sometime in the fall and winter.

In addition to the climate, cold breezes, gusts of wind and drafts are bad for the plant. As such, you want to keep it away from openings that experience this as well as air conditioners.

When it comes to humidity, your calathea musaica does best when relative humidity is kept at 50% or higher. In fact, it thrives in high humidity.

Unfortunately, many homes will not be humid enough to support this requirement, especially during the winter when the air gets dry.

Thus, you have a few choices here.

  • Put in in the bathroom or kitchen. Both locations are naturally humid because you use water there. The challenge will be to provide enough light for the plant, especially bathrooms which can be dark.
  • Grouping plants together allows them to increase the moisture in the air surrounding them. That’s because they transpire much like we perspire. When the moisture from their leaves evaporates this increases humidity. Individually, plants don’t transpire enough to increase air moisture by much. But as a group, they can.
  • Pebble tray. Setting your plant on rocks that are in a dish filled with water also works. As the water evaporates the air becomes more humid. And, all you need to do is refill the water when it gets depleted.
  • Misting is lightly spraying its leaves and the surrounding air with room temperature water. This helps add moisture.
  • This lets you set the exact humidity you want the air to be. The machine will then regulate it depending on the weather that day. While super efficient, it is also the costliest solution.

calathea musaica

source: wikimedia commons

 

Calathea Musaica Watering

Water your calathea musaica generously during its growing season (spring and summer). The reduce the frequency in the fall and winter.

As a rule, the plant enjoys moist, damp conditions. But, you want to be careful not to overdo it. Otherwise, it will suffer in wet or soggy soil.

This makes water the trickiest part of caring for this plant. You want to be able to balance the two so that you don’t overdo either. Too much water puts it at risk of root rot. Similarly, never let it dry out. Otherwise, you’ll see its leaves curl up.

So how do you water calathea musaica?

Test it. You can do so by sticking your finger into the soil. If the top 1 to 2 inches of soil is dry or about to get dry, it is time to water. You don’t want it to get much drier than that otherwise it won’t be happy. Similarly, if the top 2 inches are still moist, hold back on the watering until it dries.

Thus, it is more important to test the soil before watering than to follow a once a week or every 8-10 day schedule. This is especially true because different conditions will affect how fast the soil dries up. Also, the time of your will make it dry slower or faster depending on the climate.

In addition to when to water the plant, it is likewise important to use the right kind of water. Calatheas are sensitive to chemicals in water. Unfortunately, most city facilities add chemicals like fluoride, chlorine and calcium carbonate to your tap water.

As such, it’s not a good idea to water right out of the tap. Instead, let tap water stay out at room temperature overnight. This will allow the chemicals to evaporate.

Another option is to use rainwater, if you live somewhere that gets enough rainfall. This is a free and natural source without any chemicals.

Other options include distilled and filtered water. But, both can get costly in the long run.

 

Soil

From the section above, you can probably guess that the calathea musaica enjoys moist, well-draining soil. And, you’d be correct.

Again, this is a tricky one because the two characteristics seem to contradict one another. However, they’re actually two different things when it comes to soil.

That’s because some substrates are good at retaining water. Others allow water to pass through much quicker.

Thus, you want enough of the former so that your plant is able to absorb water and nutrients before the moisture drains out. But, you don’t want it to be too good at storing water that your plant ends up sitting in water for too long.

This is why potting soil is often a mix of different components.

To make things less complicated, you can get African violet mix from your favorite garden supply store. This has the exact features needed by your calathea. As such, you don’t have to mix different ingredients to achieve the desired results.

Alternatively, you can do it yourself as well. You can use:

  • two parts peat moss or coco coir
  • two parts perlite or coarse sand
  • one part potting soil

In addition to being able to drain excess moisture, the musaica enjoys soil with pH between 6 and 7.5.

 

Fertilizing

Feed your plant once a month with general purpose houseplant fertilizer. Make sure to dilute the dose by 50%. And, only do so during its growing season (spring and summer),

Fertilizer, like water, is something you do not want to overdo. That’s because too much can cause fertilizer burn

As such, always water your soil when fertilizing. Doing so on dry soil allows the dose to be more concentrated. As such, increase the risk of too much plant food.

 

Calathea Musaica Pruning

Calathea musaica doesn’t need a lot of pruning. Instead, you’ll want to trim back any dying, discolored or diseased leaves. This will allow your plant to focus on fresh growth.

The best time to prune your plant is during the spring as it is when its growing season starts. This allows it to quickly recover and start new growth.

Always make sure to use sterilized cutting tools when working with plants, including this one. Since the calathea musaica’s sap doesn’t irritate skin, you don’t need to wear gloves.

 

Calathea Musaica Propagation

Root division is the best way to propagate Calathea Musaica. While cuttings are easier for most houseplant, it isn’t a good option for this plant. As such, the best way to go about it is to divide the mother plant.

How to propagate Calathea Musaica. To do so,

  • You want to take a look at the plant and try to see where there are shoots that are growing. Ideally, you want to pick those that are away from the main part of the plant. This allows you to easily separate that section without the main part getting in the way. You also want to pick shoots that are somewhat grown. The smaller they are the more you have to wait for them to grow.
  • Prepare an extra pot along with fresh potting soil. Ideally, you want to repot the mother plant as well while you’re propagating since you already have it out of the container. That way, it gets fresh potting soil.
  • Once you’ve picked out a few candidates, take the plant out of its container.
  • Look for the sections and choose how many you want to divide. Because the Calathea Musaica isn’t a big plant you’ll likely be able to get one section. Maybe, two max. Since you’re “shrinking” the mother plant when you separate parts of it, root division is a good way to limit the size of your plant as well.
  • Gently use our hands to break the sections free from the main root ball.
  • Plant the section into its own pot and put the mother plant back into its existing container
  • Water both plants thoroughly.
  • Place them somewhere they can get bright, indirect light.

 

Calathea Musaica Transplanting & Repotting

The calathea musaica grows up to 2 feet tall. As such it is a medium sized houseplant. This also means that you don’t need to repot it too often, which is a good thing because the plant doesn’t like being moved.

Every time you repot it, it will experience some type of stress from the transfer. Thus, it is not a good idea to repot unless needed.

The biggest reason for repotting is your plant has outgrown its current container. When this happens, its roots will start to peek out of the drainage holes. The soil will likewise loosen a bit as the roots try to expand.

If you see these signs, it means it is time to get a bigger pot. Ideally, you want to get something that is 1 to 2 sizes bigger, nothing more. Too big a container will let the plant sit in more water for longer, which is a no-no.

The best time to repot is during the spring and early summer when the plant is actively growing. This allows it to overcome any shock from the moving faster. It also lets it grow quickly because of the added space and fresh soil

How to repot calathea musaica.

  • Gently take the plant out of the container. The more rootbound the plant is, the tighter it will be squeezed into the pot. Thus it will be more stubborn to slide out. So, be patient.
  • Once you get it out, inspect the root ball.
  • Brush off any excess soil and dirt. Then untangle curled up roots. Again,, the more rootbound the plant has been, the longer the roots and more twisted around the rootball they’ll be.
  • Trim off any diseased or damaged roots.
  • Add fresh potting mix to the new container.
  • Insert the root ball into the new container. Then, fill the remaining space with potting mix.
  • Water the plant thoroughly.
  • Place it somewhere it can get bright, indirect light.

 

Toxicity

The calathea musaica is both kid and pet friendly. That is, it isn’t toxic to touch, nor is it poisonous to ingest. However, it’s never a good idea for children or animals to eat non-food items.

 

Pests and Diseases

Anytime you deal with water and high humidity, you increase the risk of diseases and pests. And, such is the case for your calathea musaica.

Standing water or moisture in the air allows bacteria and fungus to develop. So, it’s important to balance giving your plant enough moisture and letting that moisture dry (for leaves) and drain (for soil).

As you already know allowing your calathea to stay in too much water can cause root rot. And, because the roots are hidden beneath the soil, it’s not easy to spot them. The only time you’ll actually see them is when you repot.

However, when you do see some root rot, you need to immediately take action. Trim these off then repot the plant to fresh soil. Also adjust your watering routine.

Hopefully, you would have caught it early. Otherwise, serious root rot can kill your plant.

When it comes to pests, spider mites are the common issue for the musaica. But, other pests like mealybugs and aphids are likewise problems as well.

Like disease, you want to catch pest early because it spreads. In particular, they will move to nearby plants and chomp on foliage as well.

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