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Calathea: Your Guide to Collecting & Caring for Them

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Calatheas have become an incredibly popular houseplant in recent years, and it’s easy to see why! They are beautifully colorful, often featuring striking patterns of green, white, pink, and purple. There are many different Calathea varieties available, each with their unique pattern, color scheme, and leaf shape. People also love the way the leaves fold up at night, like hands folding in prayer—a fairly unique feature since most plants don’t move much on their own! They also tend to be low-maintenance houseplants in that most varieties can tolerate fairly low-light situations and don’t need frequent watering. 

Prayer Plants Have So Many Names

There’s sometimes a little confusion about the common names of plants in this family. Prayer Plants are the overall large family of plants. The scientific name for the family is Marantaceae, which is also known as ‘Arrowroot’ because some varieties are grown to make arrowroot powder. Within the family of Marantaceae, or Prayer Plants, are several different genera that include Calathea, Stromanthe, Ctenanthe, and Maranta. There are actually 29 different genera in the Marantaceae family, and each of those genera has many species in it. In total, there are over 500 known species in the Prayer Plant family. So all Calathea are Prayer Plants, but not all Prayer Plants are not necessarily Calathea.


Calathea General Requirements

For the most part, different varieties of Calathea have similar care requirements. Some species have more specific needs, so make sure to check the care requirements before deciding which type you’d like to buy.

In general, Prayer Plants prefer bright indirect light. This sort of location might be on the windowsill of a north or east-facing window, or possibly a yard or two from a south- or west-facing window. They also can be placed closer to sunny windows with a sheer curtain, which protects the plant from direct sunlight. If you don’t have a sheer curtain, make sure to position your Calathea far enough back that it doesn’t get direct sunlight on its leaves. 

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Knowing how to water Prayer Plants takes a bit of practice. Overwatering will do more harm than drying out, but allowing it to dry out completely isn’t good either. They like soil that is moist, it should feel like a sponge that has been wrung out well. Because Prayer Plants grow from rhizomes, they store quite a lot of water in their root system, so they can last quite a while before needing water. Get in the habit of pushing your finger into the soil about once a week. If the soil feels dry, water your Calathea. If it feels quite damp, check again in a couple of days. They do like a lot of humidity, so if you can provide a humidifier nearby or a pebble tray, they’ll be happier for it.

Interesting Varieties of Calathea

With over 500 known species of Prayer Plants, it can be fun to start a collection! They’re some of the most visually interesting houseplants out there, and their moving leaves seem to take on their own personality! Prayer Plants are also capable of blooming, but it happens pretty infrequently. We carry several unique Calatheas available for you to start building up your collection.

Our first option is one of the more common varieties of Prayer Plant Calathea. It’s fun to watch its leaves fold straight up in the evening! The leaf pattern featuring different shades of green and bright red striping makes this plant a popular choice. 

Calathea Starshine features a wide border of really light green with dark green edges and centers, with a lighter stripe right in the middle of the leaves.

Calathea lacifolia, also known as Rattlesnake Calathea, has unique dark green dots on its narrow ruffled leaves.

Calathea Zebrina features beautiful bright green veins on dark leaves and is one of the easiest varieties of Calathea to take care of.

Stromanthe Trio Star is not a Calathea, but, it is a beautiful member of the Prayer Plant family. It features variegated leaves with combinations of white, green, pink, and dark red. It has similar requirements to Calathea, and it is also fairly low-maintenance. 

If you’re ready to start a Calathea collection or add a new member to the family, you can choose your favorite from our online store. We’re offering curbside pickup or delivery within Des Moines metro area, and contactless payment. 


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