Your Guide to Growing Calathea Warscewiczii

Man holding a Calathea warscewiczii in a white pot

Calathea 'warscewiczii', also known as a Jungle Velvet Calathea or a Calathea Jungle Velvet, is one of the many beautiful tropical plants in the Calathea species. Calathea plants are known for their striking and often colorful patterns of the leaves. Native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, calathea plants thrive medium to bright light, high humidity, and average household temperatures.

What is Jungle Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Close up of a Calathea warscewiczii leaf

The Jungle Calathea 'warscewczii' is a delightful Calathea variety that features exotic velvety foliage. Its soft velvety leaves have two-toned green tops in dramatic patterns, while the undersides are a rich purple creating a striking contrast. This calathea plant is also known as a prayer plant as it is from the prayer plant family and closes its leaves upright as though in prayer at night. These stunning plants make excellent indoor plants and bring life to any room or office.

How do you care for Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Hand showing a Calathea warscewiczii leaf

Calathea warscewiczii is not a fussy plant and does well in the average home with a little TLC. With well-drained soil that is not allowed to dry excessively, medium to bright light, and a humid environment, the warscewiczii plant typical will live for years in your home.

How much light does Calathea 'warscewiczii' need?

Watered Calathea warscewiczii plant

As a tropical plant, the warscewiczii grows on the forest floor, where it receives medium to bright indirect light. It prefers the same lighting conditions when grown inside as a houseplant. Like other plants that thrive in indirect light, keeping your Calathea prayer plant out of direct sunlight is essential.

Grow your Velvet Jungle Calathea in a location that receives bright light but does not receive direct light from the sun. Too much sunlight, especially afternoon light, can damage the leaves and cause them to scald or burn. Place your plant near an eastern or northern window where it will receive bright morning light. If you must grow it in a room with western or southern exposure, take care to grow it several feet from the window or hang sheer curtains between the window and the plant to filter the light.

When do you water a Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Rose gold watering can beside three golden potted plants

Calathea prayer plants need soil that dries out somewhat between waterings. The best way to tell if your prayer plant needs water is to check the soil moisture. If the soil feels dry one to two inches below the surface of the soil, it is time to water your plant. Water your plant thoroughly until water runs through the bottom of the pot. Then, allow it to drain completely and empty the saucer or catch basin. When your plant is actively growing during the spring and summer, it may need to be watered once a week or more. However, during the fall and winter, it typically needs less frequent watering when its growth rate slows.

Should you water your Calathea 'warscewiczii' plant from the top or bottom?

Top watering is generally preferred as it is easier to monitor the moisture level in the soil. With top watering, you can water the plant until water runs freely through the bottom of the pot, empty the saucer or catch basin and then let the soil dry before watering it again. Bottom watering poses the risk of soggy soil around the roots, leading to root rot and other fungal diseases.

What kind of soil does Calathea 'warscewiczii' need?

Two hands holding soil

Calathea 'warscewiczii' needs rich, well-drained soil that holds water well. You can make your own soil mix for your prayer plants by combining equal parts all-purpose potting soil, peat moss, and perlite to make a lightweight potting mix suitable for tropical plants. Adding a handful of horticultural charcoal is also recommended to keep the soil fresh. If you prefer to use a commercial potting soil mix for your prayer plants, you can use an African violet potting soil mix instead.

Temperature Calathea plants prefer temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees and do well in average household temperatures. They will do fine if temperatures drop as low as 60 degrees in the winter when they are going through dormancy. However, it is essential to growing your Calathea prayer plants in a location out of either cold or hot drafts as sudden temperature changes can stress the plant. Avoid placing your Calathea prayer plant near vents for the AC or heating system and keep them away from drafty windows and doors.

Should I mist my Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Person misting plants using a spraying bottle

Many people mist their plants in an attempt to raise the humidity level around the plants. While misting won't hurt your plants, it is not effective to increase the humidity level. According to Iowa State University, misting your plants only raises the humidity level for a few minutes. To be effective, you would need to mist your plants multiple times a day to create the high humidity they prefer.

How do I increase the humidity level for my Calathea warscewiczii plant?

Humidifier placed on a round wooden table

As a tropical plant, your Velvet Calathea prefers a high humidity level above 60 percent, which is considerably higher than the average household in the winter. But, don't worry. There are several simple ways to raise the humidity to a level your Calathea prefers.

  • Use pebble trays filled with water under your Calathea plants. Fill shallow trays with pebbles, cover them with water, and place your plants on top of the trays. Water vapor will be released into the air as the water evaporates, raising the humidity level around your plants. Therefore, it is essential the water level remains below the bottom of your plant pots.
  • Group your plants together. Plants give off moisture to the air during transpiration. Grouping them together takes advantage of the increased moisture in the air. Space the plants several inches apart in clusters of three or more, but beware. Plants need adequate air circulation, too, and should have space for air to move around the plants.
  • Install a humidifier near your plants. Using a humidifier, especially in the winter when household air tends to be warm and dry, is an effective way to raise the humidity near your plants. Not only will a humidifier increase the moisture for your plants it will make your home feel warm and cozy in the winter, too.

Calathea 'warscewiczii' Fertilizer

Two hands holding soil with compost fertilizer

Calathea plants are not heavy feeders, but they do benefit from a diluted fertilizer once a month from spring until fall as they grow rapidly during the growing season and need vital nutrients to thrive. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer or organic plant fertilizer mixed to 1/4 to 1/2 strength. Water your plant the day before, so the soil is moist. Applying fertilizer when the soil is dry can damage your plant's roots. Apply the fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Your Calathea do not need fertilizer during the fall and winter when they are dormant, and growth slows.

When should you repot Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Aligned garden pots

Like most tropical houseplants plants, your Velvet Jungle prayer plant needs occasional repotting to give its roots room to grow. You will need to repot it every two years or whenever it outgrows its current pot. Signs your plant has outgrown its pot include visible roots on top of the soil, roots that grow through the drainage holes, or slowed growth during the period when it should be actively growing. This is an excellent time to refresh the soil, too.

Pruning Calathea 'warscewiczii'

Pruning sheers on gardening clothes

Velvet Calathea warscewiczii doesn't typically need to be pruned other than for regular maintenance and to keep the plant looking good. Removing dead or dying leaves or cutting back any overgrown shoots is all your Calathea needs for pruning. Use clean, sterilized scissors or pruners to cut dead leaves off the stem. You can also cut an entire stem back to the soil level to force new growth on your plant.

Flowers and Foliage on Calathea 'warscewiczii'

Flowers and Foliage on Calathea warscewiczii

Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii' plants are prized for their striking foliage with dramatic shades of green on the top and deep burgundy or maroon undersides. These velvety leaves make a striking contrast when they close up in prayer at night. These unique plants do produce white cone-shaped flowers in the wild but rarely bloom inside as a houseplant. Under ideal growing conditions, you may be rewarded with one or two of these unusual blooms, but they will likely be few and far between.

How do you clean the leaves of Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Foliage can collect dust and debris from the air, coating the surface of the leaves. This makes it more difficult for your plant to capture the light from the sun and perform photosynthesis. To help your plant out (and to make it look good, too), wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust is beneficial.

Commercial leaf care products are unnecessary and may even clog the pores on your plant's leaves. In addition, it is essential not to use any product on the undersides of the leaves as this will clog the pores and make it impossible for your plant to breathe.

How to Propagate Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii'

Root of the plants propagated in a bottle of water

Calathea 'warscewiczii' cannot be propagated with stem cuttings, but it can be propagated by root division. Here's how.

  1. Remove the Velvet Calathea plant from its pot.
  2. Shake or rinse water excess soil around the roots so you can see the roots clearly.
  3. Identify and locate several plant sections that have at least one shoot and leaf and its own root system.
  4. Gently pull the section from the mother plant using care not to damage the tender roots.
  5. Pot the individual plants in fresh potting mix.
  6. Water the plant and keep the soil slightly moist until you see signs of new growth and your new plant is established.

Why is my Jungle Velvet Calathea drooping?

Drooping leaves of Jungle Velvet Calathea

Drooping leaves typically indicate improper watering. Therefore, both under and overwatering your Jungle Velvet Calathea can result in drooping or wilting leaves. Plants that are underwater do not get enough moisture from the soil to maintain proper pressure (turgor) in the plant's cells and droop or wilt. Likewise, plants that are overwatered can become waterlogged, choking our water and oxygen to the plant's roots.

Without access to water, the plant will not have the moisture it needs in the plant cells to maintain pressure and will wilt or droop as a result. To solve problems with over and under watering, make sure your plant's soil drains well, the plant pot has adequate drainage holes, and you water the plant only when the soil has dried 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil.

What causes overwatering?

Watering can pouring water to the garden

Sometimes overwatering results from watering your Velvet Calathea plant too frequently and not letting the soil dry out sufficiently between waterings, but this is the only cause of overwatering. Sometimes, the problems lie with other issues. Poor drainage leads to overwatering. If the soil in your Jungle Velvet Calathea is too dense and heavy, it will not drain well, leaving the soil too wet for prolonged periods. If you suspect this is the reason your Calathea suffers from the effects of overwatering, change the soil in the pot to a well-draining potting mix.

Too large a pot and too much soil lead to overwatering. If you are growing your velvet Calathea in a large pot with a lot of excess potting mix, the issue may be that the potting mix holds too much water for your plant's roots to absorb and ends up staying wet for too long. Instead, repot your Jungle Velvet prayer plant in a smaller pot that is slightly larger than the root ball. Blocked or clogged drainage holes lead to overwatering. Water needs to be able to drain from the soil after each watering. However, if your plant pots' drainage holes are clogged with soil or blocked by roots, water may not be able to drain freely when you water your plant leaving the soil soggy and choking out oxygen to the roots of your pants.

How do I revive Calathea 'warscewiczii'?

Dying leaves of Velvet Calathea warscewiczii  plant

How you revive your Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii' plant depends on the underlying problem you need to treat. If your plant is simply drooping because of too much or too little water, changing your watering habits is all that is needed. However, if your plant is suffering from a more serious condition, like root rot, you will need to do a little more work.

How do I revive a Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii' plant with root rot?

Closeup picture of plant with root rot

Root rot is a serious fungal disease that attacks your plant's roots when you keep the soil moist for too long and turns them to mush. Without proper treatment, it can progress and kill the entire plant quickly. Here's how to save a 'warscewiczii' plant with root rot.

  1. Remove the 'warscewiczii' plant from its existing pot.
  2. Rinse the roots so you can get a good look at them.
  3. Examine the roots for any signs of disease, such as root rot. Healthy roots are white or light tan and flexible. Roots that are discolored, brown or mushy are likely suffering from root rot.
  4. Cut any discolored or damaged roots from the plant with a sharp pair of sterilized scissors or clippers. It is essential to sterilize cutting tools before and after trimming the roots to prevent spreading diseases to other plants.
  5. Fill a new plant pot half to three-fourths full with fresh soil. Do not reuse the existing plant pot unless you sterilize it with a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts of water before using it. Fungi responsible for root rot can be spread via an unsterilized plant pot.
  6. Position the plant into the soil to the original planting depth and backfill around the roots with the fresh soil.
  7. Press down lightly to secure the plant in the soil and to remove air pockets around the roots.
  8. Water the plant to moisten the soil and place it in indirect light to recover. The goal is to keep the soil moist without getting soggy.

Why don't my Velvet Calathea 'warscewiczii' leaves open during the day?

Prayer plants close up their leaves like hands in prayer at night in response to low light. They open again in the morning when the plant senses the light it needs to thrive. If your Calathea Jungle Velvet plant's leaves stay folded up all day and don't open to gather the sun's light, they need to be moved to a location with more light. While they can survive in low to medium light, Velvet Calathea plants perform best in bright, indirect light.

This lovely tropical houseplant sporting exotic velvety foliage is sure to catch the eye of your friends and guests. Although these stunning tropical plants may look like they require a lot of care, they are easier to care for than you may guess. With attention to their growing needs, you can grow beautiful Velvet Calathea plants in nearly any room in your home.