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All About Calatheas

Posted by Ema Hegberg on

Let’s dive into the world of calatheas! These are some of our favorite plants in the shop because they hit a couple sweet spots: they’re pretty tolerant, they’re safe for pets and they have striking foliage. 

Calathea is a genus of flowering plant belonging to the family Marantaceae—the arrowroot family. There are about 200 calathea species. Of course, we only carry a small handful of that, but it’s fascinating to know these beloved plants have so many cousins. Most varieties of calathea fold up their leaves to varying degrees as the sun goes down, exposing the brightly colored underside of their leaves. It’s charming and makes sense since calatheas fall under the non-scientific term “prayer plants.” Prayer plants (named as such because their nocturnally folding foliage resembles hands in prayer) is a loose term for members in the Marantaceae fam. 

Generally speaking, calatheas want a couple of things. One, bright but indirect sunlight. Two, semi-frequent watering—meaning, water when the soil is about 25% dry. Three, humidity. Calatheas like to be set on a pebble tray or in a room with high humidity (say, your well lit bathroom). 

And as we said, they’re pet friendly! Now, we wouldn’t suggest you let your pets actively nibble on the leaves but if they did you wouldn’t need to ring the vet. 

And their leaves are stunning, top and bottom. Many calatheas have striking patterns on the tops of their leaves and brilliant shades of pink or burgundy on the undersides. 

So much to love!

Here’s a bit about the specific calatheas we carry in the shop: 

Maranta: This one enjoys all the bright, indirect light it can get—but indirect is key. Consequently, it would like a bit more water so keep an eye on it. Ours generally sit on a shelf that receives 2ish hours of bright indirect light during the winter and 6ish hours of bright indirect light during the spring - and they thrive. 

Veitchiana: Also another solid choice. This calathea has rounder leaves, with an interesting pattern that resembles latte art in a way. Some of its leaves may start up right and curled, like a scroll. In terms of care, it likes what most all calatheas like: bright indirect light, high humidity, decent watering. 

Lancifolia: This is the most drought tolerant calathea we stock. We usually allow them to dry out between waterings and they take it well. It’s also pretty shade tolerant. 

Pinstripe (Ornata): This one prefers medium indirect light, but be tolerant of low light. White fusion is significantly more finicky than the pink or white varieties, interestingly. We carry both. The leaves are more fragile, and it likes a good mist here and there (or a pebble tray), as well as bright indirect light. 

Concinna: This one is really the best of all worlds. Though it thrives in medium to bright indirect light, it can manage in low light for a bit. Concinna handles drought (meaning you forget to water it…) with grace. Plus it’s fun to say: concinna!

We would love to introduce you to all our calatheas! Come into the shop to meet them! 


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