Calathea Care


PRO TIP: Calathea have very expressive foliage, and will make it obvious when they’re thirsty by curling up their leaves into little rolls. Don’t worry–it’s just letting you know it needs a drink. Calathea bounce back very quickly from underwatering.

The elongated shape and braid patterned leaves are what earn this plant its namesake. Place your Rattlesnake plant where it will receive bright ambient light, and watch it’s leaves move up and down with the sun!  Avoid direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves. If you are unsure about lighting conditions, placing your plant a few feet away from a window where it will not receive direct sun, is the safest bet.

We also have a guide for how to measure light in your space.


Calathea Lancifolia Leaves

The leaves of a calathea change their spread and angle throughout the day depending on the orientation of the sun. Don’t be startled if you catch it moving out of the corner of your eye.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: Keep your plant away from hot and cold air drafts. This includes window breezes, heaters, and air conditioning. Maintain a temperature between 70 and 85 degrees fahrenheit. Night time temperatures should not vary more than a 10 degrees drop.

Always be sure to assess your plants watering needs upon receiving it.  Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first.  Calathea like to dry out minimally between waterings, so feel the soil with your finger a few inches down to ensure it’s not already drenched before watering. Consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aering can help the soil breath and allow for moisture to be released. Calathea prefer soil that is slightly moist at all times, watering once to twice a week will usually suffice. If the top 1”-2” of the soil are dry then your plant is ready to be watered. If you let the soil dry out too much, you may see browning or yellowing on the leaves, but don’t fear, these plants are hardy and can bounce back after a good drink! Too much water can also result in root rot, so it’s important that the soil not remain soggy for extended periods. Calathea are rainforest dwellers, so they appreciate added humidity.


Standard Planter Instructions

There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery NYC—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within those two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. All these factors play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

Plants purchased in a pot without a drainage hole have been set up with a built in drainage system. A layer of hydro stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled glass) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir and retain any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the water to escape. We suggest pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

For plants with a drainage hole, water until it begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.

Always be sure to assess your plants watering needs upon receiving it. Refer to the routine maintenance section for moisture requirements. We suggest pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil. 

Self Watering Container Instructions

The self-watering planters require a good, solid watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important, because the roots of the plants need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for the first four weeks until the reservoir is ready to be tested.

TEST: After four weeks, fill the reservoir until the red indicator reaches the MAX line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the plant starts drinking from the reservoir.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period.  Ficus Audrey need to dry out between waterings only slightly, so once the reservoir is empty wait a few days before you refill. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after the drying out period, be sure to fill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.

From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my Calathea’s leaves drooping?

  • Wilting or droopy leaves is typically a result of the plant being thirsty. However the leaves of this plant move up and down following the light, so be sure to feel the soil before giving your plant a drink.

The edges of my plants’ leaves are turning yellow and brown. What can I do?

  • Most often this is caused by inconsistent watering. With Calathea, yellowing and browning can be both signs of over and under watering. Be sure to read over the care instructions and see if anything in your care regimen needs adjusting. Often just checking in more frequently to feel the soil and find a rhythm with your plant will produce the best results.

Why is my Calathea losing the saturation in its leaves?

  • This is most likely caused by too much direct sunlight. Calathea love bright light, but it must be ambient light or else the leaves will lose their color and eventually burn.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For smaller desktop plants, we suggest repotting once every 12-18 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 1”- 2” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Repotting in the spring or summer is ideal.

Additional Care Guides