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Calatheas have a bit of a reputation among plant parents for being dramatic “divas.” And I'm not going to lie—they can be particular about their care. But don't let that scare you off! If you try to understand their preferences, you can totally grow lush, vibrant prayer plants at home. That’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [01:44] Understanding calathea (now also called Goeppertia)
  • [02:21] Why calathea isn’t for everyone (so set your expectations)
  • [05:46] Why calatheas are the perfect statement plant!
  • [06:17] Understanding the natural habitat of Calathea
  • [06:51] Why calatheas are called “prayer plants”
  • [07:41] High-level overview of Calathea
  • [08:41] Calathea Care #1: Lighting
  • [11:10] Calathea Care #2: Watering
  • [14:42] Top tip: Calathea enjoy filtered water 
  • [15:28] Enjoy superior quality and a variety of plants from Proven Winners Leaf Joy!
  • [17:14] Mindful goal reflection through daily plant check-ins
  • [18:13] Calathea Care #3: Humidity
  • [21:04] How do you create a microclimate for your plants?
  • [22:02] Why Calathea are resilient
  • [23:42] Calathea Care #4: Fertilizing
  • [24:08] Calathea Care #5: Troubleshooting
  • [24:46] Tip: Trim the brown edges off your Calathea!
  • [28:20] Different Calathea species
  • [28:43] #1 Rattlesnake plant (Calathea lancifolia or Goeppertia insignis) = low maintenance
  • [30:01] #2 Calathea majestica Diamond Dazzler White Star
  • [31:30] #3 Calathea picturata = drama queen
  • [32:38] #4 Calathea orbifolia = Instagram favorite


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The Allure of Calatheas

One glimpse of a healthy Calathea plant and you'll instantly get the obsession. The incredible diversity of leaf shapes, patterns, and colors makes them the perfect statement plant. 

But first, decide if you want to level up to caring for some fussier plants that require more attention. If you have more of a set-it-and-forget-it approach (no shame in that game!) there are lots of easier-going plants better suited for you. But if you like a challenge and enjoy bonding with your plants, calatheas can be incredibly rewarding!

I like to say Calathea are Mother Nature's works of art, and you can find them with striped patterns, outline patterns, and colors like pink, purple, white, dark and light greens.

I'll let you in on a little secret—I had been coveting a Calathea orbifolia on Instagram for the longest time. When I finally brought one home, it almost died on me! But with some trial and error (and a bit of plant resuscitation), I've managed to keep my orbifolia quite happy (it’s not perfect but we’re still getting to know each other).



General Calathea Care Tips

These plants often end up struggling because excited plant parents get them without realizing they need more specialized care compared to a pothos or snake plant. If you treat calathea like most houseplants, you'll likely end up with crispy, curled leaves and that is no fun. 

To understand Calathea care, we need to look at their natural habitat…

Calatheas originate from the floors of rainforests. Our job is trying to recreate mini rainforest environments in our homes!

These plants belong to the Marantaceae family, nicknamed “prayer plants.” Throughout the day, their leaves lift towards the sky like hands pressed together in prayer. How spiritual and sweet is that?



Calathea, in their native habitat, grow on the rainforest floor in dappled, indirect light. Provide them with bright, indirect light and avoid direct sun exposure. A spot a few feet from an east or north-facing window should do the trick. Too much direct sun will scorch their sensitive leaves. Variegated varieties may need a bit more light since they contain less chlorophyll.



​​This is where Calathea earns its “Goldilocks” reputation. You want the soil consistently evenly moist, never bone dry or sopping wet. I use an aerated, organic potting mix and terracotta spikes to help maintain moisture. Some plant parents find success by adding a light layer of moss on the soil surface. 

Another important factor to consider is water quality—calathea can be sensitive to the minerals found in tap water, so you may want to use filtered water (they use my Brita water, while I’m stuck with tap water). Also, keep them in a high-traffic area so you can easily monitor soil moisture.



Misting doesn't cut it for calatheas. They require HIGH humidity, around 80 to 90%! Consider grouping plants together to boost ambient moisture, but it doesn’t work all the time. The best option is to use a humidifier near your these plants! 

If you spy crispy brown leaf edges, increase that humidity stat. One of my favorite methods is growing calathea under glass, which creates a mini greenhouse effect and helps maintain higher humidity levels.



When it comes to fertilizing, calatheas are pretty straightforward! Simply feed them during their active growth periods, following the instructions on your chosen fertilizer.


Troubleshooting Common Calathea Problems

If you’re noticing less-than-happy calatheas, you might want to check these particular aspects:

  • Brown edges and tips – Low humidity 
  • Brown or white spots – Possible fungal infection
  • Curled leaves – Underwatered 
  • Yellow leaves – Overwatered
  • Drooping leaves – Too much or too little water

Note: Calatheas are still resilient plants. Even if they have a bit of a meltdown, they can usually bounce back with more focused care and attention.


Calathea Varieties

Based on the 4 Calathea types I've grown so far at home, here's my personal ranking from least fussy to most high-maintenance:

1. Rattlesnake plant (Calathea lancifolia now Goeppertia insignis)

This popular, beginner-friendly variety has earned its low-fuss reputation. The oval leaves feature pretty light green centers and deep green ovals resemblance rattlesnake skin (hence the nickname).


2. Calathea majestica ‘Diamond Dazzler White Star’

The real showstopper with its pink and white pinstripe patterns. It's taller but has still been pretty easygoing for me. The pink and green color combo speaks to my inner plant influencer. Still not totally drama-free, but less sensitive than some other calatheas.


3. Calathea picturata

This baby only wilted on me once…because I neglected watering for a week while traveling. But otherwise, this plant shows off lush, football-shaped green and cream leaves. When happy, the foliage grows big and bold. Just stay on top of your watering and never let it dry out too much!


4. Calathea orbifolia

I pined over the images of this Instagram darling for ages before taking one home. My orbifolia arrived looking spectacular but almost immediately hated the lower humidity in my house. Its thin, delicate leaves make it extremely sensitive to low humidity. It’s doing much better now after I put it under a glass.


I'll be honest, at the end of the day, calatheas are not the most relaxing plant to care for. They require you to stay plugged in and attentive to their needs. But that's also part of the fun and rewarding nature of these plants!


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsor:

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Find plant joy in leafjoy™. Head to to find your local leafjoy™ dealer and let me know which plant you take home on socials!



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