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All about the Prayer Plant (Calathea)

Let us introduce you to the gorgeous Calathea, aka the Prayer Plant, we think you’ll be pleased we did! This tropical plant is one of our all-time favourites here at TLB and, in our humble opinion, is one of the most beautifully striking houseplants you can buy thanks to his stunning patterned leaves not to mention his lively personality and wondrous air-purifying qualities.

This tropical beauty belongs to the Marantaceae family, originally from North America, there are over 30 varieties of Calathea in this genus and many of them prove very popular as potted houseplants.

A Complete Guide to Caring for the Prayer Plant

Now, as houseplants go, the Prayer Plant, which is sometimes dubbed as a ‘Drama Queen’, is not what we’d typically describe as low maintenance. However, if you are not phased by a somewhat demanding green buddy and have the time to perfect his care requirements then you will be richly rewarded with a botanical beauty that brings colour, movement and stunning patterns to your home. Read on to discover all you need to know to keep your Calathea thriving in your home.


The watering schedule for your Prayer Plant is one of the key elements to get right to ensure your plant stays in tip-top condition. The Calathea will be at its best when the soil is kept moist but not soggy and it should not be allowed to dry out completely. The frequency of watering needed will depend upon the conditions in your home. When you first welcome the Prayer Plant into your home, it is a good idea to check the soil every 2-3 days until you have a good idea of how quickly the soil dries out and therefore how often you will need to give him a drink. They are known to be quite thirsty plants so he’s likely to need water about once a week.

We warned you that this green beauty is high maintenance, didn’t we? On that note, it’s likely he will be picky about the type of water you give him – he won’t do well with standard tap water. It’s possible that the minerals commonly found in tap water could cause his leaves to turn brown at the tips. To avoid this give him filtered water, rainwater or tap water that has been left out overnight (this allows the offending minerals to evaporate!).


As is often the case with many tropical plants, the Calathea doesn’t do well in direct sunlight because they are used to shaded light in their natural environment thanks to a tree canopy, so direct rays are too harsh for this plant and will scorch those stunning yet sensitive leaves. In fact, the Prayer Plant can tolerate relatively low levels of light so is a fab choice for homes that don’t have lots of natural light. Pop your prayer plant in a spot that gives him medium to bright indirect light and he’ll be happy.


Owing to his tropical roots, the Prayer Plant will be at his best in temperate conditions. Ensure he is placed in a room no colder than 15˚C but preferably above 18˚C to really see him shine. He will even be more than happy on those rare occasions in the UK when the mercury creeps towards the high twenties!


A high level of humidity is another essential element for keeping your Calathea happy and healthy. This makes the Prayer Plant a super choice for your bathroom where humidity levels are likely to be higher than in other areas of your home. Alternatively, you can position a humidifier close to your plant, mist him regularly or group lots of plants together as they will naturally become humidifiers for each other.


Your Calathea will benefit from plant food once a month during spring and summer when he is growing. This won’t be necessary during the winter when plants are much less active.

Shop the Prayer Plant at The Little Botanical

As we noted earlier in the blog, there are many varieties of Calathea and we’re pleased to say that we stock a number of them here at The Little Botanical. Our Calathea plants come in a wide variety of colours, all with those stunning, signature patterned leaves so you can choose a patterned beauty that is exactly right for you. Take a look at what we have to offer and choose your favourite.

Firstly, we have our gorgeous green Calathea, with his striking combination of light and dark green patterned leaves. Available in a choice of stoneware or our signature belly baskets, this gorgeous greenery will make a fab style statement in your home. And if you already have the perfect pot for this beautiful praying plant, he’s available naked too!

Or take a look at our newly launched range of British grown, unique varieties of Calathea. All of which are available, as we know you’d expect, in a choice of different coloured stoneware. So whatever you choose, your new plant will arrive at your door, instantly ready to be popped in your chosen spot.

Calathea Angela

Perhaps the simply stunning Calathea Angela will be the variety for you. This boldly patterned beauty in striking shades of green and silvery pink will brighten up your interiors.

Calathea Orbifolia

Next up we have a more subtly patterned beauty; the Calathea Orbifolia, whose large oval leaves in stripey shades of light and bright green are simply stunning. Pop him on a sideboard or windowsill and prepare to swoon.

Calathea Elgergrass

Our Calathea Elgergrass is oh so unusual with his distinctive elongated leaves with wavy edges. They are deep green on top and a gorgeous maroon colour on the underside, so you will enjoy a changing colour scene as the leaves move up and down at dusk and dawn, just gorgeous.

Calathea Medallion

Maximise the striking beauty of our gorgeous Calathea Medallion by placing him in a light and airy space for all to see and admire. You won’t want to miss his stunning green patterned leaves during the day, but keep an eye on him at dusk when you’ll be treated to a view of gorgeous deep purple on the underside of his leaves.

Our stunning Calathea Trio

We know there is so much choice within the Calathea range, so many different patterns and colours it can be very difficult to choose which one is for you. If that’s how you’re feeling, you might want to check out our Calathea Trio. A gorgeous combo of patterns and colours potted in beautiful stoneware to really take your urban jungle styling up a gear. With the added benefit that they will act as humidifiers for one another, helping them to stay healthy too, win-win.

Why not go for a big Calathea?

Perhaps you’ve got a dark, dreary corner that’s just crying out for an injection of gorgeous patterned greenery. If that’s the case, take a look at our Big Calathea, available in our signature seagrass and cotton belly basket or our hand-painted grey ceramic, this big beauty will make a striking statement in any room.

Fun Facts

Throughout this blog, we have referred to this plant by its most common nickname of the Prayer Plant and you might be wondering why. This nickname is inspired by the nocturnal habits of the so-called Prayer Plant. At night time, this spectacular plant puts on quite a show; the leaves fold upwards giving the appearance of praying hands. It is thought that this graceful movement allows the plant to capture the rays of the sun optimally during different times of day (or night).

The Prayer Plant is known as a symbol of new beginnings, this is derived from the well-known phrase ‘to turn over a new leaf’ and is inspired by the nocturnal activity of the moving leaves.

Your Calathea is much more than just a pretty leaf; he is also a fab air-purifying plant too. He will reward all your hard work tending to his rather demanding needs by cleansing the air around you.

And last but definitely not least, you may be very pleased to hear that this fabulous green beauty is non-toxic, meaning he is perfectly safe around your furry friends, hurrah!

Frequently Asked Questions about the Prayer Plant

Plants don’t have muscles or tendons so how does the Calathea move?

The Calathea has a motor organ at the base of its leaves called the pulvinus. The cells that make up the pulvinus shrink and swell due to the pressure caused by the osmotic flow of water. This, in turn, creates the visible movement of the leaves.

Why does my Prayer Plant have brown tips?

A number of things can cause brown tips on the leaves of your Prayer Plant. The most common cause of brown tips is the tap water being used to water him. The Calathea is sensitive to the minerals found in tap water. To rectify or avoid this switch to filtered water, rainwater or water that has been left out overnight, allowing the minerals to evaporate. If switching the water doesn’t do the trick, other possible causes are low humidity, incorrect watering, overexposure to the sun or too much fertilizer.

Why are my Calathea leaves yellow?

Overwatering your Calathea will cause yellow leaves. These plants like damp but not soggy soil and shouldn’t be left to sit in water. If you are unsure of how much water your Calathea needs, try watering your plant from the bottom. To do this, pop your plant in its growing pot, into the sink and allow it to soak up what it needs. This should help prevent overwatering.

Why are my Calathea leaves droopy?

The most likely cause of a droopy Calathea is underwatering. Pop him in his growing pot, into a sink full of water to soak up as much water as he needs and he should revive. If your plant is still very dry, water from the top as well to ensure he is fully hydrated and then pop him back in his ceramic.

Why is my Calathea crispy around the edges?

Crispy leaves on your Calathea are caused by low humidity. Increase the humidity around your plant by misting him regularly and consider grouping your plants together so that they can act as humidifiers for each other. The great news is that you can trim the brown parts of the leaves off of the Calathea, keeping the same shape, without causing any harm to your plant.

Why are the leaves of my Calathea curling?

Severe underwatering and completely dry soil will cause the leaves of your Calathea to curl inwards and start to brown. Your plant will need a good drink to ensure it is fully hydrated but the good news is, it should recover. You can trim off any brown leaves but make sure there is some greenery left.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about these gorgeously unique and distinctive Prayer Plants and that you feel reassured that you can look after one, even though they’re slightly needier than some other houseplants. If you’ve still got questions about this green beauty or any others, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. Keep the faith plant people!

Lots of love

Team TLB xx

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