The Calathea warscewiczii (Goeppertia warszewiczii) is also known as the Calathea Jungle Velvet. This is a beautiful evergreen perennial that belongs to the Marantaceae family.
As such, it displays nyctinasty, which is a movement exhibited by prayer plants where they fold up their foliage in darkness. Then, reopen them again at dawn when the sun comes out. When folded, their leaves look like two hands praying, hence the nickname for these group of plants.
In any case, the Calathea warscewiczii grows to about 3 to 4 feet and around the same width as well. This makes it a sizable houseplant.
Additionally, it is a bit fussy to care as with most Calatheas.
So why go plant owners bother with it?
Simple. Its stunning foliage. The combination of different shades of green forming a uniquely stunning pattern along with its burgundy colored underside makes it mesmerizing to look at.
Hailing from the forests of Central and South America, including Costa Rica and Nicaragua, it like tropical conditions, which makes it both easy and sometimes problematic to care for as a houseplant.
To learn how to properly care for you Calathea warscewiczii so it will keep its lovely foliage color, read on below.
Calathea Warscewiczii Plant Care
Calathea Warscewiczii Light
The Calathea warscewiczii can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions. But, it does best when given medium to bright, indirect light.
You also want to keep it away from direct sunlight or light that’s too intense like that in the peak of summer or mid afternoons. It won’t take long for these conditions to burn the plant’s leaves
The reason for this is that plant is used to living under the shade of larger trees and plants in the forest. It size and the fact that it lives on near the forest floor means it doesn’t get exposed to direct sun. Nor does it take the brunt of the sun’s heat during the hotter times of the day or year.
As such, you want to maintain similar conditions at home.
This also means that where you live in the country affects the location you can place it at home. You already know that the top part of the country is much cooler than the bottom half.
This is why California, Texas, Florida are all warm weather stats. In contrast, New York, Michigan, and Minnesota all get very cold as they’re located to the north near Canada.
What does this mean for your plant?
The more norther up you live, the more you’ll be able to give your plant more sun exposure as the sun isn’t as harsh. As such, the plant can tolerate more of it.
In the southern part of the country, you’ll want to be more wary about sunlight because its it hotter and more intense.
Indoors, the east and north facing window are the best locations. Again, your location in the country can affect this. For example, if you live farther up, a north facing window may get too little light especially as the as fall and winter arrive. The same problem isn’t true if you live in Texas or Florida.
Either way, if you keep the plant in the west or south, you want to distance it from the window or protect it from direct sunlight by using blinds or curtains.
On the other hand, your Calathea warscewiczii doesn’t mind low light as long as there isn’t too little of it.
The easiest way to test this is by reading a book or newspaper where you plan on putting your plant. If you can read the text size of printed articles, there’s enough light for the plant.
Finally, there’s the correlation between light and humidity. This is important because the plant is fussy about humidity, which I’ll discuss below.
Sunlight is warm. So under humid conditions (where there’s moisture), the plant will be okay. But, under bright conditions, and low humidity the lack of air moisture will cause the plant to dry up quicker.
Thus, it can cause browning of the leaves.
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Calathea Warscewiczii Temperature
When it comes to temperature, your Calathea warscewiczii grows best when conditions stay consistent between 65 and 85 degrees. That plant can likewise take 90 degrees or higher. So, it doesn’t have a problem with high heat.
But, it cannot tolerate the cold, freezing temperatures or frost. Similarly, cool drafts and breezes are no-no’s. So, keep it away from air conditioners and open windows where cold winds can enter.
The good news is, it is very happy with household temperatures. This makes it easy to accommodate with this regard.
As far as cold goes, you don’t want to go under 60 degrees. In the mid to low 60s, the plant will start going into dormancy. And if you let the temperature drop lower, you’ll start seeing its leaves sustain damage. It doesn’t take a long periods for this to happen under colder conditions.
Calathea Warscewiczii Humidity
Humidity is one aspect of the Calathea warscewiczii that you need to pay attention to. That’s because it directly affects its health. In the wrong conditions, you’ll see its leaves suffer.
The other reason for this is that households don’t have the same humid conditions as tropical forests do. As such, you need to make adjustments to accommodate the plant.
The easiest way to handle the plant’s pickiness about humidity is to keep it in greenhouse. There, you can control it so the temperature stays at 85 degrees or higher. And, humidity likewise stays at 80% and above.
If you have those conditions, the plant becomes very easy to care for since you don’t have to do anything extra with regards to climate.
At home, the average humidity runs between 30% to 50%. Usually on the low end in winter and on the higher end of the range in summertime.
On the other hand, at the minimum, your Calathea warscewiczii needs at least 50% humidity or more. This makes it a bit tricky. Ideally it prefers 70% or higher. If you can give it 90% humidity, it will even be happier.
While it can tolerate going bit below 50% humidity, it will start to fuss. And the lower it gets, the more problems you’ll start seeing, especially in its leaves. this can include browning of the tips and falling foliage.
As such, you have a few options when it comes to increasing indoor humidity. But, before trying any of them, I highly suggest getting a digital hygrometer. This is a cheap way of knowing what the humidity is in any room immediately.
This way you know if you need to adjust it and how much to adjust it by. It will also tell you when you hit your target level.
That said, here are a few ways to increase humidity.
- Use a humidifier. This takes a lot of work. But, it is the best way to increase humidity by a lot (if you need to).
- Keep the plant in the bathroom.
- Group it with other plants.
- Place it on top of pebbles over a water tray.
I don’t recommend misting because it is very temporary and very laborious as you need to keep msting a few times a week.
Watering Calathea Warscewiczii
Calathea warscewiczii thrives on consistently moist soil. But, it doesn’t like wet or soggy soil, both of which can cause root rot in the long term.
It is likewise important to note that overwatering is the biggest problem you want to avoid as it can kill your plant.
Meanwhile, allowing the soil to dry is likewise a bad idea. So, once you see leaves curling, you want to water immediately. This is a sign of lack of water.
Because the weather the and plant’s growing season affects how much water it needs, you cannot follow a regular schedule.
This, along with the fact that you need to toe the line between keeping soil moist and overwatering is one of the biggest reasons why Calatheas are high maintenance. The other is the high humidity it requires.
So, instead of a fixed schedule, you want to water more regularly during the warmer months. Ideally, water once the top 1 to 2 inches of soil get dry. You can also use a moisture meter. Although, going by feel and using your finger works well.
In the winter, let the soil dry out a bit more before watering.
The other thing to remember about watering is that plant is sensitive to chemicals. As such, you want to be careful with tap water. This often contains fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals that are added by the city.
If you use tap water, make sure to let it sit in room temperature at least overnight to 24 hours. This will allow the chemicals to evaporate.
You can likewise use rainwater, distilled, filtered or bottle water.
Your Calathea warscewiczii needs moist, well-draining soil. This allows it to retain enough moisture to hydrate the plant and let it absorb nutrients from soil and fertilizer. At the same time, drain excess moisture so the plant doesn’t sit in water.
To achieve this, you can use 2 parts peat along with 1 part perlite. The combination will allow it to achieve the desired features. This will make it easier not to overwater the plant.
You can likewise use regular potting mix if you already have some for your other plants. Here, you’ll need to add either perlite, pumice or coarse sand to help it drain excess water.
Your Calathea warscewiczii is a light feeder. So, it is better to stay on the low side as opposed to being aggressive on the plant food.
All you need to feed it is balanced fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength once a month. You can likewise choose a product with more nitrogen to promote foliage growth.
Another option to liquid fertilizer is slow release. This lets you disperse the dosage over a long period of time. In doing so, it reduces the risk of fertilizer burn.
Flushing the soil every 4 o 6 months also helps as it gets rid of the salts that can buildup from fertilizer residue.
Pruning Calathea Warscewiczii
Pruning is one of the lower priority tasks for the Calathea warscewiczii because you don’t need to do a ton of it.
The main goal of pruning is remove dead, damaged and discolored leaves. It also let you control the size and shape while promoting new growth for a fuller, bushier plant.
Calathea Warscewiczii Propagation
The best time to propagate your Calathea warscewiczii is spring or early summer. You can do so via rhizome division.
But, since the plant isn’t a fan of being taken out of its container, division may not always be the best option. However, it gives you the fastest way of getting a new plant since the section you take is semi-grown.
How to Propagate Calathea Warscewiczii through Rhizome Division
- This is best done when you have to repot the plant since you’ll need to take the plant out of its container anyway.
- Take the plant out of its container, brush off excess dirt and check the roots for any problems.
- Use a sterile knife and divide the rhizome. Make the sections such that each one has at leave one leaf.
- Plant each section into its own container. Each will grow into their own plant.
- Repot the mother plant with fresh potting mix.
- Water all the plants and keep them in bright, direct light.
- Make sure their location if warm and humid.
Transplanting & Repotting Calathea Warscewiczii
Calathea warscewiczii don’t like to be disturbed. Once the settle into their home, you want to just leave them alone. As such, only repot when necessary.
Thus, there’s often only two reasons to do this.
- It have become rootbound
- You want to propagate it via division
Repotting is something you need to do because keeping the plant in a tight container will stunt its growth. Similarly, it will stress the plant. And, if it grows too much in there, it can break your container.
None of these scenarios are desirable.
The best way to tell that it is time to repot is if you notice one or more of the following symptoms.
- Roots coming out from the holes of the container.
- The soil dries out so much more quickly even if you water as you normally do.
- Roots are taking over the soil.
To repot, you’ll want to have a larger pot ready. Ideally go up only 1 size. This means a pot that’s 1 to 2 inches bigger.
You’ll also need fresh potting soil. make sure it is well-draining.
If you want to propagate the plant, you’ll need a new container for separated plant. You can also use repot the mother plant back to is current container as it will become smaller after division.
The best time to repot is in the spring. This allows the plant to recover quickly from the shock of being moved.
The Calathea warscewiczii is not toxic to humans or animals. So, you can keep it anywhere in your home without fear that young children, cats or dogs will play or ingest it.
Pests and Diseases
Calathea warscewiczii can be prone to spider mites, mealybugs and scale. On the other hand, overwatering can result in diseases like leaf spot and root rot.
Pests are not only bothersome but also detrimental to your plant as they suck the life out of your plant. They do so by taking its sap, which is what delivers nutrients to different parts of the plant.
As a result, it not only stunts growth but also causes more problems later.
With pests, the easiest way to get rid of them is spraying with insecticidal soap. You can also get them one by one with cotton and rubbing alcohol. Although, this is more meticulous and time consuming. Plus, it isn’t effective if there’s more of them.
Overwatering is another issue to watch out for as it can leave to different problems. Among them, root rot is the most dangerous as it can destroy the root system. When this happens, your plant cannot absorb water or nutrients from the soil or fertilizer.
Thus, it will die sooner than later.
Other problems include leaft spot and fusarium, which is a fungus.
The good news is, by being vigilant about watering, you can prevent them from ever happening.