Calathea fasciata is a beautiful, tropical plant that is a stunning addition to any garden. Being exotic, it has garnered a reputation of being difficult to care for. While it does require some extra care, that reputation is a bit misleading and calathea can be grown by any level of gardener. In this article we’ll look at everything you need to know to start growing calathea fasciata indoors and enjoy this beautiful plant’s rich colors.
The Prayer Plant
The Calathea Fasciata is also often called the “prayer plant”. This is due to its large leaves that will fold up at night resembling a pair of praying hands. It’s thought that this helps prevent pests, and generally increases the odds the plant survives in the wild. It doesn’t have an effect on care, but is a neat feature of this plant.
Soil and Planting
When choosing a container, go with one that is slightly larger than the root ball of your plant. Calathea can grow to be up to 2 feet tall, but does so quite slowly so you have ample time to repot. In any case, choose a well draining container with proper drainage holes to prevent standing water. Too much trapped water can lead to root rot, a fungal disease that will kill your plant.
For soil, any commercial potting soil will work. Calathea doesn’t have any special soil needs, but does need its soil to be well draining. Improperly draining soil will hold too much water and kill your plant. Also, ook to switch out the soil every 1-2 years, which should also coincide with repotting to a larger container.
Calathea grows best in areas that get lots of bright, but in-direct light. This makes an easterly facing window a good choice, or placed a few feet back from a southerly facing one. Partial shade is okay, but getting those bold colors the plant is known for requires lots of indirect light.
Direct light, however, can burn out the plant. If you notice browning edges and a generally dryness to the plant this can be a sign that the sun is too intense. Move the plant to a more in-directly lit location and see if this helps.
Lastly, it’s advised that you rotate your calathea every couple of days to help get equal light exposure to different sides of your plant. This is especially important as the plant gets larger as the leaves can start to block the sun. Not doing so can lead to leggy and uneven growth.
Watering and Fertilizer
Calathea fasciata is a tropical plant, and does like a lot of water. That said, it doesn’t like sitting in overly moist soil, and this can make it a bit tricky to get the water amount right.
Before watering, you should check the top 2-4” of soil and see if it has dried out. If so, give your plant a healthy dose of water that thoroughly saturates the soil. If not, then hold off on watering and check back the next day. The top inches of the soil will dry out first, so it’s a good leading indicator of the general moisture in the soil. In most cases, you’ll probably be watering your plant several times per week.
When watering, look to use only filtered water or leave your tap water out overnight. The salts and chemicals in the most modern tap water can harm your plant in large amounts. If you notice browning at the very edges of the leaf tips this may be a sign of hard water damage. Using tap water here and there won’t harm your plant, but try not to get into the habit of it.
Calathea is also a heavy feeder during its growing season and should be fertilized regularly. Fertilize your plant roughly every month during the spring/summer with a liquid based fertilizer. You can also use a slow release fertilizer which can last for several months; read the directions on your chosen brand for exact instructions.
During the winter, you can stop fertilizing or do so only once. Doing more risks burning out the plant as it needs less nutrients during these months. You can learn more about this, and plant dormancy in general, at our article here.
Temperature and Humidity
As a tropical plant, calathea likes warmer temperatures. Look to keep the plant above about 65°F. Any less and you risk damage to your plant. Above that though, calathea are perfectly fine in temperatures up to around 85°f.
That in mind, you should look to keep your calathea away from any sources of cold temperatures. This includes things like drafty windows in the winter, or air conditioning vents in the summer. This cooler air can damage your plant.
On the humidity front, calathea likes to be fairly humid. You should keep humidity high by misting frequently, and also watch out for dry and curling leaves which can signal humidity issues. This becomes more of a problem during the winter when the air is naturally less moist. You can also view our guide on houseplant humidity.
Calathea Fasciata Propagation
Calathea are excellent candidates for propagating and it’s fairly easy to do so. There are two main ways to start propagating your plant.
The first is to take a cutting from an existing plant. Look to take a 4-6” cut that includes a stem node and then place this into a propagation starter mix. This should root in a couple of weeks, at which point you can move it to its permanent home.
You can also wait until you see shoots coming up from the soil. Your calathea will naturally try to propagate itself by sending up new roots and shoots. You can gently remove these from the parent plant, and place them in their own container. These will eventually grow to become their own full grown plant. This is a more passive way of propagation, but no less viable for expanding your garden.
If you’re looking for more tips on plant propagation we have an article that covers all the details.
Growing Calathea Fasciata Indoors
Calathea fasciata can sometimes be viewed as a tricky plant to grow, but with a little know how it’s certainly doable. The effort is well worth it, this beautiful plant makes a striking statement to any room it’s in. Pair that with its relatively low light needs, and you have a versatile plant that will fit in any garden.
Calathea Fasciata FAQ
How Big Do Calathea Fasciata Get?
Calathea can grow to be about 2 feet in height. They are relatively constrained by their container size, so you can keep it smaller by not upsizing its container.
What Other Names Does Calathea Fasciata Go By?
They’re often referred to as the prayer plant, but you may also see them called beauty star, cathedral plant, or peacock plant, among many others. Some of these actually referred to similar but slightly different plants like calathea makoyana.
How Long Do Calathea Fasciata Live?
Lifespan is very dependent on care and good care can greatly extend the life of your plant. Properly cared for, it can live for several decades. That said, with poor care don’t expect your calathea to live past a year.