All about the Calathea: aka Prayer Plant
We thought it was about time we wrote about one of our all-time favourite houseplants. Here we have written a little piece all about the gorgeous Calathea, a stunning houseplant belonging to the Marantaceae family. Also known as Maranta Leuconeura or the Prayer Plant, the Calathea is one of more than thirty varieties of plant in this North American genus. Many of the species in this group are popular as potted indoor houseplants. This is due to their gorgeous patterned leaves, lively personalities and air-purifying qualities.
Looking after the Calathea
Caring for the Calathea can be challenging, but if you get it right then the Prayer Plant might just be the most rewarding houseplant to look after. Sometimes described as a ‘Drama Queen’, a Calathea plant can bring colour, movement and stunning patterns to your home.
Why you may ask, has it earned its nickname ‘Drama Queen’? Your Calathea will open and close depending on the time of day and the availability of light. To see the plant move like this is amazing! Keep your Calathea happy and healthy while it goes about its business, by making sure the soil is kept damp and just don’t place it in direct sunlight. The Calathea has stunning but sensitive leaves, which can be easily scorched.
When it comes to watering, the Calathea can be a little more demanding than succulents or cacti! Water your Calathea at least once a week, and once it is settled in its home, feed it some generic houseplant food once a month. Calatheas also prefer a slightly more humid environment. This can be achieved by misting those beautiful leaves, grouping several of them together as a plant gang, or by using a humidifier.
Where the Calathea looks best
The Calathea loves humidity so we would suggest the ideal place for it would be in your bathroom. Perhaps there’s a corner waiting to be filled with greenery? Or place it on a bathboard to create the urban jungle feel in your bathroom.
As the Calathea’s leaves move during the day and particularly late evening, it’s worth having it somewhere that it’s easily visible. A kitchen worktop is also a great spot – near the sink so you won’t forget to water it perhaps. It’s a joy to watch those leaves move, we promise!
Light, airy spaces will allow this unique plant to show off its true beauty. Did you know its patterned leaves are often coloured dark purple or red on the underside as well?
You now know that the Calathea is also known as a Prayer Plant and you might have guessed this meaning comes from the nocturnal movements of the Calathea. The prayer plant at night is a true spectacle; the leaves of the plant fold upward, giving the appearance of praying hands.
Our Calathea plants come in a wide variety of colours; ranging from light and dark greens with shades of pink, purple, red and even silver! A Calathea is also known as a symbol of new beginnings. This is derived from the saying ‘turn over a new leaf’, thanks to its nighttime activity.
The Calathea houseplant has plenty of benefits that will make it a favourite addition to your jungle. As well as providing entertainment by moving throughout the day, it is an excellent air purifier.
One more fabulous feature that make this plant a great all-rounder is that it is pet-friendly! Non-toxic to cats and dogs, perfect for your home and friendly for your pooch, what’s not to like?
The Calathea is a true one-of-a-kind plant and will be a welcome addition to any space in your home. While the prayer player does demand more care, it’s definitely worth it to see those beautifully patterned leaves move around throughout the day and into the evening.
If you notice that your prayer plant has curling leaves or is drooping, take a look at our FAQs below. We also have a dedicated FAQs page with more information regarding plant care.
Frequently asked questions
Plants don't have muscles or tendons so how does the Calathea move?
It moves because of the pulvinus, the motor organ at the base of its leaves. The cells that make up the pulvinus swell and shrink because of the pressure caused by the osmotic flow of water. This, in turn, creates visible movement in the leaves.
Why does my Calathea prayer plant have brown tips?
Brown tips on a Calathea can be caused by a number of reasons. Low humidity, incorrect watering, over exposure to the sun or even too much fertilizer. Read our guide on caring for houseplants for instructions and your Calathea should soon be back to its beautiful self.