Watering Calathea

Calathea are tropical plants that have medium water needs. In nature, this plant grows under the tree canopy. Since they grow in somewhat shaded conditions, calathea prefer to be damp and do not like to dry out completely. You can mimic these conditions when growing calathea as a houseplant by watering when the top layer of soil is damp. Carefully monitor the plant and the soil to water at the right time and help the plant thrive.

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How To Tell If Calathea Needs Water

Water calathea plants when the top layer of the soil is dry. The majority of the soil in the pot can be damp when giving the plant water. The stems will become limp when calathea plants are dehydrated. The plant is stressed by the time the stems droop, so try to keep the plant hydrated before the stems become limp. The foliage of calathea naturally moves throughout the day, where the foliage will be down during the day and fold up overnight. This movement is normal and indicates the plant is doing well and is properly hydrated. 

While calatheas like damp conditions, too much water is damaging. The tips of the leaves turn yellow when calathea plants are overwatered. Calathea plants go dormant during the fall and winter, and the plants need less water when dormant.

Humidity is vital for prayer plants like calathea. The foliage will curl when the humidity is too low. Increase the dampness in the air with a humidifier, a pebble tray with water, or spray bottle.

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How To Water Calathea

Calathea plants are sensitive to hard water. Some plant owners prefer to use distilled or rain water to hydrate their plants. You can also let tap water sit out overnight before watering calathea to dissipate any chlorine. 

Water calathea plants when the top layer of the soil is dry or slightly damp. Drench the soil when it is time to water until the soil is saturated and the entire root system is moist. Continue to water until excess water runs through the drainage holes in the pot. Most calathea will need water once per week, but the amount of sunlight and humidity will impact the watering frequency.

Calathea Watering Tips

  • Feel the soil and water when the top inch of the soil is dry
  • Use distilled water, rain water, or tap water that has been sitting out for a day
  • Saturate the soil until water drains through the pot

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 03-08-2023