Growing Calathea Outdoors

Calatheas are lovely plants known for their distinctive foliage. The leaves often feature dramatic colors and intricate patterns; if that weren’t enough, the leaves move. The leaves fold down and are on display during the day but fold up at night. Calathea plants are from the tropical rainforests of South America. These plants are particular about moisture and humidity, which can be challenging when growing them as houseplants or outdoors. Growing Calathea outdoors is possible in the right location and with the proper care, and the effort is worth it when you can enjoy the stunning foliage. 


When To Put The Plant Outside

Move Calathea plants outside when the air temperature is above 55 degrees F, but the warmer, the better. Calatheas prefer temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees F. These are tropical plants that like to be warm, and cold temperatures are damaging to most varieties. Wait until there is no longer a threat of frost and the temperature is consistently warm before moving the plant outside. 

When To Bring the Plant Indoors

Move Calathea plants back indoors while the weather is still warm. These plants prefer temperatures above 65 degrees F, so transitioning the plant before the temperature gets any lower will ease the process. Waiting too long to move the plant will leave it susceptible to cold damage. Wait to move the plant when the outside temperature is close to the inside temperature. This allows for a smooth transition, and the plant can more easily adjust from outside to back inside.

Inspect the plant before moving it back inside to look for damage or pests. Introducing pests into your home puts all of your plants at risk. Rinse the plant with water and quarantine it from other plants for several weeks to contain any pests. 


Caring For Calathea Outdoors

Calathea plants grown outdoors need medium to bright indirect light. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves, so a spot that receives filtered or dappled light is best. Water when the top inch of the soil is dry, and be aware of rainfall and heavy dew that will keep the plant hydrated in addition to your watering efforts. Drainage is vital for potted plants grown outdoors because excess water in the pot can cause root rot. Plant Calathea in a pot with drainage and make sure water can drain. Empty the saucer when necessary or place the pot on pot feet or a stand so the drainage hole is not obstructed.

Consider moving the plant to a protected area if the forecast calls for heavy rain, hail, or high winds. Check in on the plant weekly to look for signs of stress from the conditions or pests. Move the plant or provide treatment as necessary to help the plant thrive.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 03-09-2023