Calathea Plant Care – How to Grow the Zebra Plant

Calathea Plant Care and Growing Guide

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by Admin

Calathea are well-known for their lovely patterned foliage. This makes them an amazing decorative piece for your home.

Their big, wide leaves can easily become the focus of any room that needs a bit of sprucing up. And, if you watch closely, you’ll see those same leaves fold up once night-time comes around.

To learn more about the calathea plant, read on.

About the Calathea Plant

Calathea Plant Care and Growing Guide

The calathea plant is among the most popular houseplants for good reason. They come with stunningly beautiful foliage that easily brightens up a dull room.

It is for this reason that they’re called peacock or zebra plants among many other names.

The bright-colored, bold markings on leaves make them ideal for home decoration purposes. And, because they only grow up to two feet tall, it’s easy to place them on tabletops or furniture where visitors can easily notice them.

For the most part, these lovely plants are fairly easy to grow and care for. But, they do have some nuances that you need to be aware of because they can get picky in with some of their living conditions.


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Calathea Plant Care

How to Grow & Care for Calathea Plants

Calathea Light Needs

Calathea plants like a lot of sunlight. Ideally, they need at least 6-8 hours of exposure from the natural sun daily to thrive.

But, they don’t like direct sunlight. Instead, they prefer bright, indirect light.

That’s because, in their native environment, they grow on the ground in forests and jungles. As such, they don’t receive much direct exposure to the sun’s rays since the treetops block these.

In fact, too much direct sun can burn their leaves and make them lose their brilliant colors.

This means it’s a good idea to keep them away from the path of the sun’s rays if they’re in a window facing west or south.

Similarly, keeping them a few feet away from the window allows them to receive the indirect light they need.


Calathea Temperature & Humidity

Like other tropical plants, your calathea enjoys fairly moderate to warm temperatures ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

This makes it ideal for most homes which keep their thermostat between 65 and 75 degrees during the days and nights.

This makes them hardy to zones 10 and 11. For colder areas, you’ll have to settle for keeping them indoors or only allowing them outside during the warmer months.

That’s because they don’t do well in the cold. Once temperatures drop below 65 degrees, they will start becoming unhappy. And, by the time it hits 60 degrees, they will begin experiencing problems. For example, you’ll see their leaves start curling.

Similarly, calathea plants like humid environments. They’re able to absorb moisture from the air through their leaves.

Altogether, this is why they’re labeled as greenhouse plants. Their sensitivity to temperature drops and drafts along with their need for high humidity and good lighting make them perfect for the controlled environments of greenhouses.


Calathea Watering

Water is one area there the calathea becomes a prima donna. That’s because it has a lot of preferences that you need to accommodate to.

This all begins with its need for high humidity. As such, if you’re growing the plant indoors, you’ll likely need to mist it regularly, use a humidifier or set it on top of rocks that are on a water tray.

Similarly, it enjoys moist soil. But, be careful not to overwater it because the plant doesn’t like to have wet feet.

Unfortunately, humid, wet conditions promote bacterial and fungal growth, which harm your plants. if these happen, they’ll manifest themselves in the form of leaf lesions.

Also, calatheas are sensitive to water quality. They don’t like hard water. So, it’s not a good idea to use tap water if it contains a lot of minerals including fluoride and others.

Instead, you’ll want to use distilled water or rainwater. If you want to use tap water, it will need to rest in the open for at least 24 hours before.

Speaking of which, calatheas are likewise picky with temperature, doing best with room temperature water.

And, to help keep the soil moist, avoid positioning the plant near an air conditioner or heater vents where they can dry out quickly.

When you do water them, avoid getting the leaves wet. Instead, water directly into the soil.

The best time to do so is when the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry.



Since calathea plants enjoy moist environments, providing it with potting soil that retains water well is important. But, the growing medium also needs to drain well since the plant doesn’t appreciate sitting in water.



During their growing season which runs from spring through fall, your calatheas will need regular feeding. But, not a whole lot of it.

As long as it receives good houseplant fertilizer, it’s happy.



Calathea plants are fairly slow growers. And, they only grow up to 2 feet tall. That means they don’t require regular pruning.

Thus, the only time you’ll need or want to do so is to trim off yellowed or brown leaves.


Calathea Propagation

Calathea plants have a moderately good lifespan ranging from 5 to 8 years. The good news is, you can continue to enjoy their bright-colored foliage by propagating hem.

You can do so via division or cuttings.

The bad news is, they’re not the easiest to divide successfully. So, you may want to wait until they’ve grown considerably in size before doing so.



Depending on its environment, your calathea plant will need to be repotted every 1 to 3 years. The best time to do so is during springtime.

And, when you do, make sure to add fresh potting mix.

You can likewise divide it to grow more plants.

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