Houseplant Spotlight: Calathea

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Calathea plants are members of the Marantaceae, or arrowroot, family. They are sometimes called Prayer Plants or Peacock plants because of the beautiful markings on their leaves, and the way they unfurl new ones. They are tropical houseplants, native to South America, where their large leaves are used for holding small items, wrapping fish, and weaving into baskets and containers! In their native land, they are one hardy plant.

As a houseplant, however, they’re going to need a little extra care to thrive. Because they are used to living on the floor of the forest, receiving only dappled light through the palms above, they prefer medium to low light. Find a space in your house that receives some light, but is far enough from the windows not to burn your new plant’s leaves. Most varieties need low light, and their leaves will burn or bleach if they’re in too bright of a spot! Another byproduct of their tropical heritage, the calathea loves humidity. Mist your plant frequently, especially in hotter summer months, and keep the soil moist, but not wet! Because they won’t receive a lot of light, it will take a little longer for its roots to absorb all the water in the soil, so make sure to check that it’s dry before you water. For the same reason, calathea can be a slow grower. But be patient, and you’ll soon see the unique way the new leaves of your plant unfurl!

**Hot tip: the darker the leaves on your calathea, the less light they prefer! 

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