Calathea is a genus of plants belonging to the family Marantaceae. There are several dozen species in this genus. Native to the tropical Americas, many of the species are popular as pot plants due to their decorative leaves and, in some species, colourful inflorescences.
Calatheas prefer low to medium indirect light. Placing a Calathea in line of strong, direct sunlight will cause its leaves to fold inwards, or burn. It may also lose colour on its leaves.
Calatheas are sensitive to water quality. Depending on your source, chemicals dissolved in the water may lead to brown leaf tips. This should not be confused with yellow or brown leaves, which are indicative of inconsistent, under or overwatering.
Calatheas fare well when placed in a high humidity environment. Readings should be about 70% for them to grow happily. While the ambient outdoor humidity in Singapore tends to be relatively high, it is best to invest in a hygrometer to get an accurate reading.
You can raise humidity for your Calatheas by:
- Grouping them closely with other plants
- Placing moistened sphagnum moss at the base of your plant
- Pebble trays
- Purchasing a humidifier
Misting your Calatheas leaves may raise humidity for a short period of time, but is insufficient in raising humidity consistently. If not left to dry, this may also lead to fungal problems. If you are choosing to use pebble trays, check them regularly for mosquito larvae and switch out the water regularly.
Calatheas enjoy a growing media that retains moisture, but drains quickly. A peat-based soil or mix that contains coco coir will be beneficial. Prevent placing Calatheas in a drafty spot.
Calatheas can be challenging houseplants for beginners. Due to their intermediate care requirements, it is not uncommon to have brown leaf tips over time. These can be trimmed off with a pair of scissors, and brown/yellow foliage should also be pruned to keep your Calathea looking beautiful.