Do Calatheas Like Humidity?

Calathea zebrina houseplant

Collecting Calatheas is our new favorite hobby, but many first-time owners are unsure about the humidity situation and other care requirements. Calatheas are a diverse family of tropical houseplants with a bit of a reputation for being hard to care for—which isn’t necessarily deserved! If you can successfully create the right conditions for them, they’ll treat you with a spellbinding display of colorful foliage. It isn’t as tricky as it seems! When you’re familiar with their basic preferences and care instructions, growing Calatheas can be a total breeze!

A Proper Environment

Since these plants hail from tropical climates, they’re used to the air being more on the muggy side. We’re lucky to have a humid environment here in Fort Lauderdale in which they can happily thrive. However, a/c units often contribute to drier air conditions in the home, so supplemental humidity is necessary. Here are a few ways to provide adequate humidity levels for your Calathea:

  • Place them on a pebble tray filled with an inch of water.
  • Spritz them regularly with a fine mist of distilled water.
  • Bring them into the bathroom once in a while and place them on the counter while you take a shower—they love to soak up the steam!
  • Huddle them closely to your other plants.
  • Use a plug-in humidifier.

If the edges of your Calathea leaves are turning crispy and brown, that’s a sign that the air is too dry, and you need to increase humidity levels.

houseplant humidifier

Calathea Light Needs

Calathea needs bright but indirect or filtered light. Since they’re jungle dwellers, they’re used to having lots of trees overhead dappling the sunlight. Intense sunlight will scorch their delicate leaves and spoil that gorgeous, saturated color. Place them in a North-facing window, or a few feet away from a sunny window, away from any direct beams. Alternatively, a window with a sheer curtain can help to diffuse the light, so it isn’t so strong.

Watering Your Calathea Plant

Important care tip: one of the Calathea’s particular quirks is a preference for distilled water. The minerals and salts in tap water can build up in the soil, which isn’t healthy for this sensitive plant. Grab a big jug of distilled water from your local grocery store, and give the plant an inch of water every week or two. Let the top inch of soil dry out before watering your plant again, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. You’ll have to water a little more in summer when temperatures are high, but you can scale back in winter while your plant is less active.

calathea rattlesnake plant

Our Favorite Calathea Plants for Indoor Care

The diversity among Calatheas is so incredible; it’s impossible to choose a favorite! Luckily, collecting a bunch of different varieties and placing them together on the same shelf will improve the humidity levels in their environment. You’ll love watching the way their gorgeous leaves rise and fall, striking different poses as the sunlight levels shift with each passing day. Here are some noteworthy varieties with the most beautiful foliage imaginable:

  • Calathea Concinna: Pale green with dark green zebra stripes.
  • Calathea Dottie: Black with hot pink streaks.
  • Calathea Lancifolia: Long, crimped leaves with dark green streaks and burgundy undersides.
  • Calathea Starshine: Pale green with dark green detailing and rosy undersides—it almost looks like a leaf painted on another leaf!  
  • Calathea Orbifolia: Glossy emerald green with subtle, pale streaks that catch the light beautifully. 

calathea orbifolia

Ready to learn hands-on how to care for Calatheas in Fort Lauderdale? Visit us at our garden center, and we’ll get you set up with everything you need to make your collection absolutely swoon-worthy.

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