Calathea: Houseplant of the Month for November
Incredible: a plant that literally shares your life and tells you when it’s time to go to sleep.
Variegated or plain. Wavy, ribbed or smooth. Oval or pointy. Beautiful symmetrical markings or a bit freehand. Even marked with an eye, if you want to be kept under observation. If you’re looking for unusual leaves, Calathea is the houseplant of your dreams. And that’s before we even mentioned the bright orange flower that towers above the ‘Crocata’ cultivar like a torch.
It’s not just limited to photogenic leaves. Calathea also has a day and night rhythm. When it gets dark, it closes its leaves and the plant shows the dark red underside of the leaf. And in the morning the leaf opens up again, ready for a new day.
Calathea has a strong air purifying effect and contributes to a pleasant climate indoors
Low light – no problem
Calathea grows in the jungles of the Amazon region in South America: in the shady layer beneath the dense vegetation, to be precise. For that reason the plant can also do well in a spot where it’s not particularly light, such as the bathroom, hall or bedroom. The local population often use the sturdy leaves as packaging material: instead of being wrapped in newspaper, fresh fish is wrapped in Calathea leaves there.
Calathea is not harmful to pets … but pets can be harmful for Calathea
In the language of plants Calathea symbolises a new beginning. That meaning is derived from the expression ‘to turn over a new leaf’, which is what the plant does when it gets dark. That makes it the ideal gift for a new home, a job or a new start.
Calathea fits perfectly with the interiors trend in which plants are playing an ever greater role in the home. Not only as decoration, but also to improve the air in your home, to absorb moisture and possibly even as an energy supplier. Calathea’s strength lies in the abundant green foliage. This means that the plant is very good at converting CO2 to oxygen and purifying the air.
You could easily put six different Calatheas together: all different, but still linked
How to keep them looking beautiful
- With its jungle background Calathea likes to be placed in filtered sunlight between 15-23°C.
- There are not many plants that are happy in front of a north-facing window, but this is one of them.
- The soil can feel slightly damp, but there should be no standing water in the planter.
- It doesn’t need to be as humid as in a rainforest, but regular misting would be appreciated.
- Some plant food once a fortnight in summer, do not feed in winter.
- In the winter Calathea can also cope with less water because the plant is hibernating.
- You can cut off brown or withered leaves.
- Repot every couple of years, preferably in spring.
Not on but in the table
To display Calathea on trend on your Instagram, style it as part of the interior. So not on the table, but in the table. In knitted pots that bear a remarkable resemblance to the blanket that you curl up under on the sofa. Or very surprising as a kokedama hanging plant in the living room. That presentation also reinforces what is unique about Calathea: it’s not just beautiful to look at, but it really shares your life.
For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Published on: 29 October 2019