How To Grow - Calathea

How To Grow - Calathea

By Plants Furnish

How To Grow - Calathea
Grow the perfect calathea rattlesnake every time 
Adding a splash of color and bringing glamor into your home, the calathea rattlesnake is bound to be a talking point.
The following post tells you all you need to know about growing and caring for your calathea rattlesnake, including: 
  • Why you should grow the rattlesnake plant
  • How to plant it
  • All you need to know to successfully grow your plant 
  • What you shouldn’t do
 
Why grow plants at all?
Unconvinced that growing plants from seed (or rhizome in this instance!) is worth the trouble? Click here to read seven reasons why you should give it a go!
Why grow the calathea rattlesnake?
  • It’s a real beauty. On the topside of the calathea rattlesnake’s wavy leaves are dark green strokes on a pale green background. On the underside is an eye-catching purple-pink tone.
  • As a native of the Brazilian rainforest, it will give your home or office a tropical feeling.
  • They are non-toxic, so are safe to be around children and pets.
  • They are naturally found at the base of trees in the rainforest, so are used to low-light conditions.
  • They are not prone to being affected by pests.
How do I plant my rhizome?
Calathea rattlesnakes are grown from rhizomes, rather than seeds.
Wait, what is a rhizome?
A rhizome is a stem that grows underground, it stores water and energy to help the plant grow.
Here’s how to plant it…
  1. Select a grower pot with drainage holes.
  2. Fill the pot with two inches of potting soil – this will give your plant’s roots room to grow.
  3. Place the rhizome in the pot and gently press it into the soil.
  4. Cover the rhizome with soil until the pot is 90% full.
  5. Water thoroughly and evenly across the surface of the soil.

When should I repot my calathea rattlesnake plant?
Naturally, as your plant grows, you will need to transfer it into a bigger pot, so that the stems and roots have adequate room to grow. This is best done in spring.
You will need to repot your rattlesnake plant every one to two years. 
What soil does my calathea rattlesnake love?
Plant it in fast-draining soil as they cannot tolerate standing water. That said, they still like to be kept moist. 
Mix one part perlite with two parts peat, to avoid root rot. Your soil needs to have good drainage but also retain moisture.
Alkaline soils should be avoided – rattlesnake plants respond best to slightly acidic or neutral pH levels.

What about watering?
Calathea rattlesnakes are pretty sensitive and will not tolerate overwatering. Leaves turning yellow is an indication that they are waterlogged.
Little and often is key to watering your rattlesnake plant. Keeping the soil moist is important, especially during the summer, as this is when they experience the most growth. Curling leaves are a sure sign that they need watering. 
Water every seven to fourteen days – more frequently in the summer and less in the winter.
Let the top layer of soil dry out completely in the winter months, before watering again. 
Invest in a moisture meter to gauge whether your rattlesnake plant needs watering. This simple, inexpensive device will let you know the moisture level of your plant’s soil on a scale of one to ten (four to seven indicates moist soil, anything above or below suggests that the soil is too dry or too wet). 
Much like a wine-snob, the calathea rattlesnake is very sensitive to the quality of what it is drinking. Tap water contains too much fluoride, chlorine and bromine for the sensitive rattlesnake plant to handle. Instead, give your plant distilled water or rainwater. Giving your plant tap water could lead to its leaves going crispy. 

What else do I need to know to ensure my calathea rattlesnake grows successfully?
Light
Direct sunlight will cause the rattlesnake plant’s vibrant dark green leaf markings to fade, so low-light levels are preferable. Ensure that it is in a spot away from intense sunshine, diffuse light with drapes, if this isn’t an option.
Temperature
Calathea rattlesnakes are tropical plants and are not fans of the cold. They thrive in temperatures between 65°F-80°F and they love humid conditions. Low temperatures can cause their leaves to curl.
They do not like cold draughts, nor do they appreciate big changes in temperature. Their leaves are likely to go crispy if they are exposed to temperatures that are not to their liking.
Fertilizer
Rattlesnake plants need a balanced liquid fertilizer every single month during their growing season (April to August). Although flowering indoors is extremely rare, it is more likely if your plant has been well fertilized.  
What not to do when growing a rattlesnake plant
As a caring plant parent, you will NOT want to do the following…
  • Overwater – if several younger (i.e., higher up) leaves turn yellow, this could be a result of overwatering. Use a moisture meter to guide you.
  • Under-water – like Goldilocks, the calathea rattlesnake likes conditions to be just right. If leaves curl, this could be a sign that your plant needs watering.  
  • Give it tap water – it doesn’t react well to the chemicals in tap water, instead give your plant distilled water or rainwater. 
  • Put your plant in direct sunlight – this can cause the leaves to lose their distinctive markings. Move to a shadier location until its leaves return to their normal vibrancy. 
  • Put your plant in an area of low humidity – if the leaf tips turn brown, this is a sign you should increase humidity. This can be achieved by using a humidifier. Alternatively, you can place your potted plant into a tray filled with pebbles and water.
  • Leave your plant out in the cold – this can cause your plant to develop limp stems, which is a serious issue. Move it to a warmer spot straightaway. Keep your rattlesnake at a consistent temperature and make sure there are no draughts. 
A bit more about the calathea rattlesnake
The calathea rattlesnake plant is a species in the Marantaceae family. It is an evergreen perennial that is native to Brazil. It can grow up to 24 – 30 inches (60 – 75 cm).
 
Happy growing!

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