Calathea is a genus of tropical plants that belong to the Marantaceae family. These colorful plants live on the forest floor in the wild and make delightful houseplants. These plants thrive in medium to low light making them suitable for either the home or office. They are prized for their beautiful foliage that features deep purple or burgundy undersides and highly adorned upper sides.
What is Calathea medallion?
Calathea 'Medallion' features showy foliage with brightly colored green and silver markings that resemble a medallion. The undersides of the leaves bring bright contrast with their deep burgundy hues. This plant is often called a Prayer Plant. Although it isn't one in the truest sense, it is from the prayer plant family with similar appearance and behavior.
The Calathea 'medallion' leaves fold upward at night, giving the impression of praying hands, explaining why it is often inadvertently referred to as a prayer plant.
These delightful plants are both eye-catching and beautiful, bringing any room to life. Fortunately, they are easy to grow and don't require much care once you understand their growing needs.
Calathea medallion Care Tips
Calathea 'medallion' is considered an easy-to-grow houseplant suitable for either the home or office. This colorful plant does require regular care and shouldn't be neglected, but its growing needs are fairly straightforward. Establishing a regular plant care routine is easy once you understand what your Calathea 'medallion' plants need to thrive.
Calathea 'medallion' prefers low to medium light, but needs enough bright indirect light to maintain its beautiful coloration. When grown in low light, the colors may begin to fade, but don't be discouraged. Moving your Calathea 'medallion' plant to a location where it will receive bright indirect light will often restore it to its original beauty.
Avoid placing Calathea 'medallion' in direct sunlight as the Calathea 'medallion' leaves are tender and can burn in direct sunlight. A sheer curtain to filer direct sunlight from a sunny window can be used to subdue the light and give your Calathea plant some protection from the damaging rays of direct sunlight.
Place your Calathea 'medallion' prayer plants in an eastern or northern window where they receive bright light in the early morning, or grow them several feet from a southern or western window. If your Calathea 'medallion' plant receives too much afternoon light, hang a sheer curtain over the window to filter the light.
How to Water Your Calathea 'medallion' Plant
Calathea 'medallion' prayer plants need well-drained soil that dries slightly between waterings. Many factors contribute to how often your prayer plant needs to be watered making it nearly impossible to say how often you will need to water your Calathea 'medallion' plant. The best way to determine when to water your plants is to check the moisture level in the soil. If the soil is dry 1 inch below the surface, your Calathea needs watering.
During the spring and summer, when your Calathea plant is actively growing, it may need to be watered once a week or more, depending on the size and the plant's growth rate. When plant growth naturally slows during the fall and winter, it will generally need to be water less frequently and may go two weeks between waterings. But, beware! If the air in your home is dry the soil may dry more quickly.
Calathea medallion plants are sensitive to the type of water they receive and may suffer from the chemicals in tap water. If possible, water your Calathea 'medallion' plant with filtered or distilled water. Otherwise, allow tap water to sit out overnight before watering your plants. This will enable chlorine and other chemicals in the water to dissipate.
Water your Calathea Prayer Plant thoroughly until water runs freely through the bottom of the pot. Empty the saucer or catch basin as soon as it is finished draining. Never allow your prayer plant to sit in a saucer of water as this can cause soggy soil and lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.
Humidity & Temperature
Like many indoor plants, Calathea 'medallion' plants thrive in household temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees with a relative humidity between 50 and 60 percent. Because the relative humidity in the average home (especially in the winter when the heating system is running) is often much lower you may need to make efforts to raise the humidity level near your Calathea plants.
How to Raise the Humidity Levels for Your Tropical Plants
Installing a humidifier near your tropical plant is a surefire way to increase the humidity levels near the plants, but it isn't the only way. Consider these other methods for raising the humidity near your tropical indoor plants.
Group Plants Together
All plants give off moisture to the air during the process of transpiration. Grouping several plants together takes advantage of this natural process and raises the humidity level in the area.
Use Pebble Trays
Filling shallow trays with pebbles and covering them with water is a simple solution for increasing the humidity level around your plants. Place your plant pots on top of the pebbles, using care that the water does not reach the bottom of the plant pots. As the water evaporates, it will release moisture into the air.
Mist Your Plants
Even though it is often reported as the most common method of raising the humidity level near your plants, it is also the least effective. According to Iowa State University Extension, misting only increases the humidity level for a few minutes. Therefore, plants would need to be misted multiple times a day for misting to be an effective technique for raising the humidity level.
How to Maintain the Right Temperature for Calathea Plants
Calathea plants do well in average household temperatures, but there are some things you should keep in mind. Drastic temperature changes, hot or cold drafts, and a drop in nighttime temperatures can affect the health of your Calathea foliage plants.
Avoid Hot and Cold Drafts
Be conscious of heating and AC vents that can send blasts of hot or cold air towards your plants. Likewise, check that there are no drafts from leaky windows and doors swirling around your Calathea 'medallion' prayer plants. To maintain a happy plant, you need to protect it from nasty drafts.
Watch Out for Overheating Near Sunny Windows
Plants placed too close to sunny windows (especially in the summer) can overheat quickly and cause considerable stress to the plant.
Maintain Adequate Nighttime Temperatures
If you are in the habit of turning down the thermostat at night to save on energy, be careful that you are not chilling your Calathea plants in the process. A healthy plant, especially a tropical plant, needs consistent warmth to encourage healthy growth.
What is the Best Soil for Calathea 'medallion'?
Like other tropical houseplants, Calathea 'medallion' needs soil that drains well and provides plenty of aeration for the roots. It also likes its soil slightly acidic with a pH of 6.5. Most potting soil mixes are already slightly acidic, so this shouldn't be an issue. However, all-purpose potting soil is not a good choice for your Calathea.
Potting soil alone is too dense for growing your Calathea 'medallion' plant and can lead to problems with root rot due to keeping the soil moist for too long. It is best to mix the potting soil with other organic materials to create a lighter potting soil mix for your plants.
Many recipes for Calathea soil are available, but keep in mind that mixing the soil is not an exact science and some ingredients are interchangeable. A good basic recipe for Calathea potting soil mix includes:
- One part all-purpose potting soil mix or a combination of potting soil and compost.
- One part peat moss, shredded bark of coco coir.
- One part perlite or vermiculite.
- A handful of horticultural charcoal.
Using compost from a kitchen composter like Lomi is a great way to boost the soil's nutrients and improve both aeration and drainage.
How to Fertilize Calathea 'medallion'
Calathea 'medallion' requires regular fertilizer supplements to replace the nutrients it absorbs from the soil, but it is not a heavy feeder and will suffer from too much fertilizer.
Use either a balanced houseplant fertilizer or a general houseplant fertilizer mixed to 1/2 to 1/4 strength on your Calathea plants.
Fertilize them once or twice a month from spring until fall when they are actively growing and then withhold fertilizer through the fall and winter when the plant rests. Resume fertilizing the plant in the spring when new growth appears.
The good news is that Calathea 'medallion' is completely safe for both humans and pets. That means no worries that little one or your fur babies can accidentally get hurt from your Calathea plants.
How to Maintain a Beautiful and Healthy Calathea Plant
The key to keeping your Calathea plant healthy is providing it with the environment it needs to thrive. Follow these tips for growing a healthy Calathea 'medallion' plant.
- Provide the plant with rich, well-drained soil.
- Place in it a draft-free area that receives bright, indirect sunlight.
- Water your Calathea 'medallion' plant when the soil is dry 1 inch below the surface. It likes moderately moist soil and does not perform well with the soil is dry for long periods.
- Use distilled water, filtered water, or rainwater to water your Calathea 'medallion' plant. if you must use tap water, allow it to sit out overnight so chlorine and other chemicals in the tap water can dissipate.
- Create a humid environment with pebble trays or a humidifier.
- Fertilize your Calathea plant once or twice a month during periods of active growth.
- Wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and keep the leaves looking good.
- Remove yellow leaves or browning leaves to improve the appearance of the plant. Remember, some yellow or browning leaves are normal as the plant loses old leaves and grows new ones.
How to Repot a Calathea 'medallion' Plant
Like other houseplants, Calathea 'medallion' benefits from being repotted every year or two. This can be done to refresh the soil or to give the plant more room to grow. This is best done in the spring when new growth begins. Here's what you need to do.
- Choose a plant pot that is 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot, if it has outgrown its current pot. However, if the goal is simply to refresh the soil and your plant isn't overflowing its current home, choose the same size pot or repot it in its original pot.
- Water the plant thoroughly the day before repotting it. This ensures the plant is well hydrated and reduces stress to the plant.
- Turn the plant pot on its side and gently slide the plant out of the pot. Use care to support both the foliage and the roots of the plant to avoid damage. If it resists your efforts, gently squeeze the sides of the pot or run a blunt object, like a butter knife around the inside rim of the pot to loosen the soil.
- Gently remove the old soil around the roots of your Calathea prayer plant.
- Fill the new plant pot 1/2 to 3/4 full of fresh soil.
- Make a hole in the center of the soil large enough to accommodate your plant's roots.
- Gently position the plant into the soil spreading the roots out over the fresh soil.
- Backfill around the roots with fresh soil while adjusting the plant so that the crown (the point where the roots and stem meet) rests at the soil level.
How to Propagate Calathea 'medallion' Plants
Calathea 'medallion' plants are propagated via root divisions. That means you will need to remove it from its existing pot and divide it into two or more sections.
- Remove the plant from its existing plant pot.
- Shake the loose soil from the roots. If you have difficulty viewing the roots, go ahead and rinse away the soil.
- Gently tease the root ball apart so that you have two or more sections. Each section of roots should have a least one shoot with leaves.
- Repot the new plants in fresh soil.
- Each new plant will be identical to the mother plant.
Troubleshooting Common Problems with Calathea 'medallion'
This gorgeous tropical plant is relatively problem-free, but there are some things you should watch out for.
Calathea 'medallion' leaves yellow and eventually drop from the plant if the soil is too wet. But that is not the only reason Calathea 'medallion' leaves yellow. It can also signify that your plant is plagued with a nasty cold draft or has an insect pest problem.
Brown edges on your Calathea plant's leaves signal the plant is being underwatered. But that isn't the only reason the leaves on your Calathea plant may turn brown. It is also a sign of a thrip problem. Check the undersides of leaves and stems for these tiny insects. Treat them with neem oil right away.
Like brown leaves, curling leaves is often a sign your Calathea 'medallion' plant isn't getting enough water and the soil is too dry. Water it thoroughly and check it often to ensure the soil doesn't dry out completely between waterings.
If your Calathea 'medallion' plant begins to look lackluster and isn't producing the colorful foliage you expect, the problem is most likely a lack of sufficient light. Move your plant to an area that receives more bright light to encourage it to produce the colorful foliage it is prized for.
Calathea 'medallion' plants make a delightful addition to any houseplant collection. They bring color and life to nearly any setting making them suitable for both the home and office. Place them on top of bookcases or clustered on the top of filing cabinets to add life to the room.