Figuring Out Calathea Indoors - February 2022

Sometime in 2021, we bought a couple of prayer plants.  They were on a deep discount sale at Home Depot and as you all know:  I love a deal.  These are formally called Calatheas and are part of the family Marantaceae.  And, they're always listed as one of the houseplants that tolerate 'low light', but after having this one around for a bit, I've learned a few things.  When we brought this one home - you can see how it currently looks below - it was a more-full plant in a 6" plastic container that had drainage holes in the bottom.  What happened?  Well, the plant struggled.  Brown tips, die-back and curled existing leaves with very little growth.  It was spending most of its time on the screened porch, but like everything else, I brought it in during the cold weather in January. 

Below is a look at one of the mature, existing leaves.  These all had brown tips that I trimmed off and have been monitoring them since that haircut.  I believe this was a due to a couple of things:  too much low-light and improper watering.  Pretty sure this was a mixture of OVERWATERING and UNDERWATERING.  

Below, you can see the current container.  One of the 'lessons learned' here is related to that very plastic nursery container:  I've drilled a series of holes in the sides of it because it was getting too wet and water-logged.  With the holes and keeping it out of a secondary container, I've struck the right balance of watering and allowing it to dry out in between. 



When I brought this inside, I moved it to the south-facing window where it was getting A LOT of light and it seems that the plant has responded.  For the first time since we've owned it, I'm seeing new growth.  Below you can see it - with small leaves and new leaves emerging from the stalks. 


When they say that house plants will tolerate 'low light', I've found that those same plants will also tolerate more 'high light'.  And they'll likely enjoy that rush of light.  Similarly, the nursery pots that these plants come home in can trap water without you knowing.  I'll continue to look at drilling holes inside these nursery pots before I drop them into a more formal exterior container.  

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