How to Care for Calathea Vittata

The Calathea Vittata is a stunning plant with beautiful oversized leaves that feature white variegation on a green background.

Once you see it, the first thing you’ll notice are its outward extending foliage and their gorgeous green hues.

The plant is fairly short reaching only 12 inches tall. This makes it perfect for tabletops or as living room décor.

It is a member of the Marantaceae family which is makes it a prayer plant. As such, you’ll see its leaves fold up once the sun goes down to conserve energy.

When it does, it looks like it is praying as it exposes the backside of its leaves during this time.

That said, it is not a true prayer plant which is the Maranta leuconeura.

Calathea Vittata Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Calathea Vittata is quite specific when it comes to lighting. And as you’ll see below, it is also like this when it comes to water and fertilizer just to name a few.

So, as beautiful as the plant is, it is very important to give it what it needs.

When it comes to light, a bright spot with indirect light is essential. Too much or too little light and it won’t be happy.

Thus, avoid direct sunlight or long periods of intense sunlight like that in the afternoons. Leaving it in these situations will burn its leaves.

This makes an east facing window ideal followed by a west facing window. Although you do need to filter the afternoon light in the west.

On the other hand, lack of light or dim rooms will make the plant leggy. Or, it if gets too dark, slow its growth, affects its leaf growth and color.

 

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Temperature

Ideal temperature for your Calathea Vittata is between 65 and 75 degrees which coincides with regular room temperature. This Is one area that is easier to accommodate this fussy plant.

However, be wary of cold conditions.

The plant is comes from tropical regions. As such, it is able to tolerate warm temperatures above 75 degrees.

But, that’s not the case when it comes to the cold. It will only be able to withstand climates down to 60 degrees before it becomes unhappy.

This means it cannot live outside during winter. Nor will it do well indoors in areas where cold drafts from vents and air conditioners hit it.

 

Humidity

Similarly, your Calathea Vittata is enjoys moderate to high humidity. This means it needs at least 50% relative humidity. Although it will do between in the 60% to 70% range.

This makes it somewhat problematic for most homes which don’t really don’t achieve humidity that high.

The only way to know exactly what the humidity is in your home is to use a digital hygrometer. I highly suggest getting one if you own quite a few houseplants, especially tropical ones.

These need at least moderate humidity but thrive in very humid environments. Although some are more amenable to slightly lower levels making them easier to care for.

if you find that your home’s air is too dry for the plant’s liking, there are a few measures you can take to remedy this problem. These include:

  • Moving it to the bathroom which is the most humid room in the home. The kitchen is another good spot. Both work provided that there is enough light there.
  • Mist the plant a few times a week. This takes a little more work since you need to manually spray each one 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Group plants together. If you have a few of them, grouping works since moisture will increase when they transpire as a group.
  • Pebble tray. This is my favorite. It is free and all you need is small stones to keep the pot above water. Then set the stones (with the pot on top of the stones) on a tray with water. As the water evaporates, it increases humidity around the plant.
  • Use a humidifier. This device will let you control the levels and cover a bigger floor space. Although it does take a little more maintenance than the pebble tray and grouping.

 

Watering Calathea Vittata

Water is another aspect of Calathea Vittata care where the plant is quite finicky.

It needs moist (not soggy) soil during the warm months. As such, during May to August, you need to water it regularly.

But, once the colder months come along, you need to cut back otherwise, watering with the same frequency can lead to overwatering. That’s because the cold weather makes soil take more time to dry up.

Thus, you always want to check the soil before watering.

You can do so by:

  • Sticking your finger 2 inches down into the soil. It needs to be dry at least 2 inches from the top before you water.
  • Use a moisture meter. This device will let you know how much moisture there is in the soil. All you need to do is stick its probe down into the soil.

If you notice the leaves of the plant turning yellow, it means you’re likely overwatering. On the other hand, it the leaves are drooping, curling or looking dry, it needs more water.

Quickly adjusting your watering schedule helps avoid bigger problems later on.

 

Tap Water Sensitivity

Another important thing to consider with this plant is to be careful for tap water. Most cities add chemicals like calcium and fluoride to the water in different amounts.

As such, in some cases, the levels may be too high for the plant’s liking. And, after a while, its leaves will being to curl.

This makes rainwater or distilled water idea for your Calathea Vittata. But, you can likewise let tap water sit at room temperature at least overnight to 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate.

This is a simpler solution since some areas don’t get a lot of rainfall while distilled water will get expensive after a while.

 

Soil for Calathea Vittata

The soil your use for your Calathea Vittata needs a combination of 2 things.

  • Ability to hold enough water to nourish the plant
  • Drain excess moisture quickly so the plant does not sit in water which increases its risk of root rot

Balance is the key here since It enjoys moist soil during the warmer months of the year.

Of the many different recommendations I’ve tried and experimented with, two work the best:

  • African violet mix. This is a good, simple option since you can get them from your local nursery. No mixing or buying different media.
  • Combine 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts perlite and 1 part potting mix. If you prefer creating your own blend, this is what I recommend.

Many people will recommend fast draining mixes. And, like I mentioned above, it works. But, many tend to take that as something especially well-draining.

You do want to be careful with overly fast draining soil because it will dry out much quicker. And, it forces you to be very religious and strict with your watering schedule, i.e. you have very little room for forgetting or being late.

Lastly, choosing a pot with drainage holes at the bottom is crucial as it this will allow excess moisture drained by the soil to get out of the container instead of pool at the bottom.

 

Fertilizer

In addition to light and water, fertilizer is another feature of the Calathea Vittata that can mess up the plant if not done properly.

The plant needs fertilizer to produce vibrant green and white leaves. But, you want to stay on the light side of things.

Using too much fertilizer or applying it too often can result in yellow leaves, wilting or dropping. That’s because fertilizer are made from chemicals. And, these will leave salt residue in the soil which, once it accumulates, will harm the plant.

I like to use a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its active growing season (spring and summer). Then, stop. There’s no need to feed the plant during the fall or winter.

Also, make sure to dilute the dose by half strength each time you use it. You can do this by adding a liter of distilled water to half a teaspoon of fertilizer.

Dilution is very important because the plant prefers a weak fertilizer due to its sensitivity to the chemicals.

 

Pruning

Pruning is one of the lower priority tasks when it comes to caring for your Calathea Vittata.

Note that I classify it as such not because it isn’t important. Instead, light, watering and fertilizer can drastically affect the plant so those are the most important things to look out for.

In most cases, pruning is more cosmetic.

You’ll want to trim the plant to keep it from getting messy or to maintain the shape and look you want.

Removing brown and yellow leaves are probably going to take some of your time as well.

That’s because as leaves age, they’ll turn yellow or brown. So that’s natural.

But, if you see more than one or two leaves change color at the same time, something else is up.

In most cases, yellow leaves mean too much sunlight, water or fertilizer. So, in addition to trimming the leaves, you need to troubleshoot by elimination starting with the easiest which is light.

Beyond these things, there’s not  a lot you need to do when it comes to grooming besides cleaning its leaves with a damp cloth once every 2 to 4 weeks to get rid of dust.

 

Calathea Vittata Propagation

The best way to propagate your Calathea Vittata is via division.

Unfortunately, stem and leaf cuttings don’t produce reliable results with this plant. As such, you’ll have to get your hands a little dirty to propagate it.

Here’s how to divide your Calathea Vittata.

  • Before you begin, prepare a pot or a few of them if you want to make more than one new plant.
  • Also, have some fresh African potting mix on hand.
  • Then fill the each of the containers to about a third to 40% of the way.
  • Water the soil to moisten it.
  • Now, carefully take your Calathea Vittata out of its container.
  • You want to clear excess dirt and soil from the root ball and check if the roots are healthy.
  • Next is to look for the sections.
  • Pick a stem or stems that are healthy and trace them down to the root ball. For each of the stems, try to find the matching roots under the root ball. This will let you know which section to cut off.
  • Once you’ve chosen the sections, use a sterile knife to separate each section from the mother plant.
  • Plant easy segment into its own individual container.
  • Backfill the soil to keep the plant upright.

 

How to Repot Calathea Vittata

Repotting your Calathea Vittata is very similar to pruning. You don’t need to do it regularly.

This usually comes out to once every 2 years. Although a lot will depend on its living conditions as it will grow faster or slower depending on how much or little of the factors above it receives.

You can repot the plant any time. Although I like to do it early in the spring.

The most important thing is to choose a day that is not too cold or too hot which adds stress to the shock it already experiences from the transplanting process.

Also, it is very important to give it good living conditions after since it needs this time to recover from the shock.

The only time you need to repot is when the plant outgrows its container. The biggest sign of this is when its roots start coming out of the holes at the bottom of the bot.

Finally, if you want to propagate the plant, use this opportunity to do so since you’ll be taking it out of the container anyway.

 

Toxicity

Your Calathea Vittata is safe for young kids and pets. It is not toxic so you don’t have to worry about dangerous issues that can arise if they happen to get mischievous and chew on parts of the leaves.

 

Pests

The Calathea Vittata is not particularly prone to pests or diseases. However, it can be on the receiving end of it from these critters.

The most common of which are spider mites, which are problematic if they attack our plant. That’s because they like the large, lovely leaves of tropical plants.

As such, if you spot them or the damage they inflict, immediate treatment is very important. You can use neem oil or insecticidal soap to do so.

Additionally, mealybugs and aphids are also common issues. Both can likewise be remedied with the same treatments.

 

Diseases

As you can already guess, the plant’s susceptibility to water makes diseases a potential issue. However, they can be prevented by making sure you are mindful of how much your water and how often you do it.

The most problematic of these is root rot which can eventually destroy the plant’s roots. And, if not spotted early can lead to the death of the plant.

Leaf spot and other fungal diseases are likewise problems that can happen. Again, they are moisture-related.

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