Are you looking for a foliage plant? Calathea is a present to decorate your dull room with tropical style. Putting aside its native country of Ecuador, growing Calathea medallion is quite easy. With correct watering, high humidity, and indirect sunshine, they can live happily.
Let’s find more about this evergreen here.
Actually, Calathea medallion is not the “original” species of Calathea. It comes into botanical world as a cultivar of Calathea veitchiana. In general, Calathea grows in tropical or subtropical region on the forest floor.
The Confusing “Prayer Plant” Name
Many people often refer Calathea medallion as a prayer plant. Prayer plant term comes from natural habit called nyctinasty. Here, the leaves fold upright (night) and unfold (day). As a matter of fact, this name is more suitable with Maranta plant.
Both Calathea and Maranta peculiar habit aims to hold moisture. Even for advanced gardener, it is not easy to spot the difference. Furthermore, if Calathea leaf folds irregularly or folds toward the middle vein, it means there is a problem.
Welcoming Calathea Medallion
Nowadays, this plant is widely sold as a potted houseplant. With a little bit of effort, you can get a hand of this greenery.
If you purchase it online, the plant might go through a long journey. When it arrives at your door, it might look a bit messy. The first thing you should do is isolating the plant for around 2 weeks. It will ensure that your plant doesn’t have pest or illness.
In this period, let the plant rests to adjust in new environment. Don’t take extreme measure such as feeding, repotting, or propagation.
The overall pattern of large green leaves looks like a peacock feather. The undersides color can be magenta, burgundy, or purple. Sometimes, the magenta hue pops op on the leaf surface. Each leaf grows directly from stem near the plant base. This plant typically grows till 60 cm tall at maximum.
Calathea medallion flowers have higher possibility to bloom outdoor than indoor. Don’t have much expectation because they also don’t have fragrance. Besides, the bold and colorful foliage itself already becomes the central highlight of this houseplant.
Toxicity and Safety
You don’t have to worry because Calathea medallion is not a poisonous plant. Since people grow them as ornamental greenery, adding it to your salad is not a wise decision. Put the plant away from the reach of kids and pets in case they accidentally eat them. It only reacts badly if the body condition is already weak.
Where to Plant
|Indoor||Have more control in terms of plant growth, humidity, temperature and lighting.Don’t have to bring back the plant during cold season.||Higher humidly could make you feel uncomfortable while the plant loves it. Disruption may come from home appliances, thus the room might not be able to provide the best condition.|
|Outdoor||The plant could enjoy open air, free rainwater, and bright sunshine.We don’t have to adjust our lifestyle with the plant.||Only do well in warm climate, so must bring it inside if temperature drops. More prone to pest and disease outside.|
Note. Location, species type, soil, temperature, humidity, and water affect the plant position.
Sheltered area in the garden
Calathea could stay outdoor in USDA hardiness zone of 8-12. Naturally placing the plant under tall free would filter the hot direct sunshine as well as protect the plant from draft. Consider making artificial shelter or shade such as cold frame/grow tunnel if you don’t have trees.
Make sure the soil outside is porous and well-drained. You might apply granular fertilizer 1 time every 3-4 months. Adding mulch can keep the plant base warm.
Proper room inside the house
When tall building surrounding your house, it is better to grow it indoor. An ideal room should provide:
- bright or medium indirect light,
- stable temperature,
- high humidity, and
- protection from extreme condition (e.g. AC, draft, radiator, etc.).
Many tropical plants prefer bright indirect light including Calathea medallion. A good news is, they are still okay with medium and lower lighting.
During the day, this plant needs to receive the sunlight well. The best sunlight is the morning and afternoon sun. Prolonged direct sunshine fades the leaf pattern and causes brown crispy edges. In contrast, growth issue occurs if the plant get too little or no light.
To mimic the indirect lighting in the wild, there are some tricks to do that. First, put your plant in a shaded area indoor such as patio, deck, balcony, or under big trees. Second, we recommend set the plant close to the east or west-facing window. Additionally, you need to use curtain or partial blind for south-facing window.
Read also : How To Care For Calathea Warscewiczii
In its home country, it is quite easy to grow Calathea medallion outdoor. If you live in a region with colder temperature, grow this plant indoor is preferable.
Although most household temperature can fit Calathea, that is not always the case. Actually, the home temperature can be more extreme than outdoor. The problem is, this plant cannot stand sudden temperature change. They may like a higher temperature better, but a balance and constant temperature is the best.
Try to keep the indoor temperature between 65° and 80° Fahrenheit (18-26°C). Make sure appliances such as AC, radiator, oven, fans and heaters cannot hurt the plant. Also beware of open window or door because cold draft and strong wind might hit the plant.
If you notice stunted growth or curling leaves, you need to adjust the temperature better. Remember to put back the plant inside if the outdoor temperature drops to 15°C at minimum.
Water the plant whenever the 2.5 cm of top soil dry. It would prevent soggy soil and nourish the roots. It is crucial to water the plant in the morning/noon. The reason is, at night the top soil will spend much time to dry. Consequently, it can trigger bacterial/fungal disease.
- Spring and summer: Once a week or more because the plant grows a lot and quicker. The moisture can dry easily because of the temperature.
- Fall and winter: Less watering by only once every 3 weeks or once a month.
Note. Sunlight, temperature, humidity, soil quality, and pot type influence the frequency.
Safe water type
Calathea medallion is sensitive to chemical substance like fluoride, chlorine, salts, and minerals. The “dangerous” substance might burn your leaf edges or curl the foliage. In severe case, the roots may die.
The recommendation is to use filtered, distilled, bottled water, or rainwater. Even though most tap water have chemical substance, you better check the quality clearly. Some regions use well water as tap water. Rainwater could be harmful too if it comes from a heavily polluted area.
Tips. When the city tap water is the only option, let the water stand for 24 hours before watering. There are people who also use fish tank water or collected rainwater (it might be troublesome though). Please choose one that suits your condition.
Don’t rely on schedule
Watering schedule could ease your job, but it might lead to overwatering. It means the soil becomes too damp which initiating fungus gnat, pest attack, and root rot. And many also say that overwatering has more serious damage than under watering.
Note: Finger test and moisture measuring tool are the perfect combination to check the plant’s readiness for watering.
When watering the plant, pour the water thoroughly and carefully. You can mist, spray, or rinse the plant, but don’t let the leaves wet for too long. To avoid root stress, please use room temperature/lukewarm water. Never let any excess water left in the soil and saucer. Let it drains properly.
Keeping at least 50% humidity level or higher is a must wherever you grow the plant. It is a great houseplant, but household air can ruin the plant mood. Both in summer and winter, the indoor air can be extremely dry than outdoor.
The use of heating and air conditioning is the culprit for the wrong humidity. A too low humidity could result in inevitable drooping and curling leaves.
Next, let’s try to investigate some methods for raising humidity level below.
It might not be the cheapest option, but it provides stable humidity. You should consider the room size, number of plants, and feature. Larger area will need bigger humidifier. You can use some small humidifiers, but you must also think about the efficiency.
Fill the tray with room temperature water until half of pebbles submerge. Place it under the pot and let the evaporation increase the humidity around the plant. The disadvantage of this method is, the water gas (evaporation result) may escape sideways before reaching the plant.
Placing the plant in bathroom
Bathroom would be a perfect place ONLY if it has ample lighting. That is to say that higher humidity is useless if the lighting is too low.
Grouping tropical plants
If you are a keen gardener who has many plants, this method is for you. Transpiration process of each plant naturally improves the humidity for other plants.
Choose a spray bottle with fine holes. Then, fill it with distilled water. Spray the area around the plant lightly instead of forcing it directly to the plant.
Caution: Too much misting could be responsible for overwatering problem. It only contributes a little part in increasing the whole humidity level.
A mix of peat moss and perlite (3:2) plus potting soil is good enough for a starter. The key formula is the soil ability to drain excess water well and keep enough moisture.
People also tend to add other materials such as compost, sand, coco coir, etc. Here, you must pay more attention to the balance or ratio. For instance, adding plenty bark or compost could invite fungus gnat.
Are you confused? It is okay.
You can buy commercial potting soil such as African violet mix. This product has contained the necessary nutrient, able to retain moisture, and has good drainage. It is also safe to choose one with indoor plant soil or houseplant soil label.
The importance of pot quality
- Material. Plastic pot is good for Calathea since it could retain the moisture well. Other options include clay and ceramic pot. In reverse, terra cotta pot dries the water too fast. As a result, the soil won’t be able to retain enough moisture.
- Size. The pot size should follow the plant size growth. Too big pot may inflict overwatering and too small pot may hinder the root growth. When repotting, don’t use a pot larger than 2 inches (maximum).
- Drainage holes. When NO drainage hole exist, you could tilt the pot to throw the excess water. Or you can use more porous soil. However, it is not convenient and may raise other issues.
If possible, always use pot with drainage holes. Adding some pebble layers at the pot bottom will improve airflow as well as drainage.
Read also : Calathea Orbifolia : How to Successfully Grow
A proper fertilization will maintain vibrancy and color of the leaves. Roughly you can feed Calathea medallion once a month in growing season.
ALWAYS dilute the fertilizer at ¼ strength first. Many would also recommend using balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer or worm castings. Don’t use chemical fertilizer as you will burn the plant.
Danger of over and under fertilization
Visible symptoms of too much fertilizer are: leggy plant, scorched leaves, and white powder on the soil surface. Bad soil and wrong watering could worsen the condition. The scariest thing is when it burns the root. Please properly follow the guide and instruction on the fertilizer package.
On the other hand, lack of fertilizer could trigger slow/stunted growth and droopy leaves. It probably happens if you think the soil still have abundant nutrients. However, STOP feeding the plant in cold months.
Rule for feeding the plant
Although diluting at ¼ strength is common, each fertilizer may have different rules. Nonetheless, the basic rule is to use half (½) less than the recommendation to avoid over feeding. This includes the dosage and frequency.
Occasional flushing helps preventing the mineral for building up in the soil. Repeat this method once every few weeks.
Pour the water slowly from the top around 2-3 minutes in a sink. After the draining process ends well, put back the plant in its original position. In several weeks, you can apply new fertilizer.
The main purpose of potting is to give more space for plant growth. In addition, the fresh soil might be able to restore the plant health.
It is a simple task that you can do once every one or two years. The moderate growth pace of Calathea makes it okay to stay in the same pot for a while. Besides the signal of outgrown root, you must repot when the plant is sick.
Both repotting and propagation would shock the plant. For this reason, they don’t want you to disturb them often. First of all, ensure that the plant has matured. Do repotting at the beginning of growing season (early spring).
- If you want to use new pot
- Prepare a bit larger pot than the original, usually 1-2 inches.
- Fill it with soil up to third.
- After lifting the plant gently, wash the root from the soil. Meanwhile, investigate to find any sign of abnormality or disease such as damaged leaves and root rot.
- When putting the “clean” plant inside, the level must as same as the old pot.
- Add the rest of fresh soil.
- Put the plant in its spot after thorough watering.
- If you persist to use same pot
- Take out the plant from its current pot.
- Cut 1/3 of the roots available to allow better growth and spread.
- At the remaining time, wash the pot using soapy water.
- When the pot has dried, replant the plant in fresh soil.
- Water the plant and set it in a warm and humid environment.
Note. This method is for those who want to keep the Calathea in the same size.
Maintenance and Grooming
Prepare a sterile knife of shears. To remove the yellow, brown, or dead leaves, cut the leaf stem cleanly. Calathea medallion doesn’t have small branches, so you could pruning it occasionally.
Just prepare a damp soft cloth and wipe the plant gently. Another option is by using soapy water. This solution not only clean the plant but also remove the pest. Try it in a single leaf first to see the plant reaction.
Shower and rinsing
While showering, you can also rinse the plant. You must clean both the top and bottom of the leaves to remove the dust. Additionally, it would maintain the leaf shine safely than using leaf shine product.
A good candidate for propagation is a healthy and mature plant. The most effective method is by rhizome division. To reduce the risk of transplant shock, only propagate in the early spring.
- Remove mother plant gently from the pot.
- Lay it in a clean and flat surface for inspection.
- Divide the rhizome by cutting the tuber/clump using disinfected and sharp knife.
- Transfer each tuber (each must have root, leaf, and stem) in a pot with quality potting mix.
- Give enough water and place them under bright indirect light.
- To keep the plant warm, cover them using plastic.
- You can mist it daily, BUT: do this in the morning, don’t mist too much, and use lukewarm water.
- When new growth appears, remove the plastic and continue the usual care.
Note. This is also great opportunity to check the plant health as well as trim the unhealthy and damaged parts.
Calathea Medallion Problems
Fungal and bacterial infection and pest infestation may occur due to watering issue. This is quite normal because maintaining proper watering itself is tricky. Correcting the watering as soon as possible would prevent the problems from getting more serious.
The most annoying thing about pest is the difficulty to spot them. Their tiny size makes them hide really well outside our radar. Some pests even can spread really fast and easily tp other innocent plants.
- Thrips. This insect could jump and expand its colony. The larvae have white color while the adult ones have black thin body. Silvery streak on the leaf could be the sign of thrips in your plant.
- Spider mite. When your plant is dry, spider mites will happily make your plant as a home. They particularly create white webbing on the undersides. You might not be able to notice them at the first sight.
- Fungus gnat. Different from spider mites, fungus gnats love humid place. Their population could develop really fast. Using yellow sticky trap will hinder their spread.
First, isolate the plant. Second, rinse and wipe the infected leaves to remove the pest. Third, apply pesticide, preferably organic like neem oil spray for several weeks. Be PATIENT as you MUST eliminate all pests and their eggs completely.
The cause of this issue varied from low humidity, chemical water, wrong fertilizer, or pest attack. After you figure out the real cause, follow the guidelines to solve this problem
Faded and scorched leaf
It is not only about the color. The leaf pattern may gradually disappear resulting unattractive looks. Sunburn is likely the reason for it.
Curling and brown edge
The leaves will curl as the reaction to low humidity or under watering. Give moderate amount of water and raise the humidity by using humidifier for example.
Overwatering can easily turn the leaf into yellow. The soil is also probably too compact which make the plant stays in standing water.
Drooping leaves and stems
Both under watering and dry soil may lead to leggy plant. Break the soil using fork or other tools before watering the plant.
Simple to extreme treatment
If pruning the damaged parts doesn’t work, root rot might have occurred. Please follow the steps below properly.
- Quarantine the plant.
- Trimming the dying parts start from the leaves, stem, and brown and mushy roots.
- Replant the remaining healthy plant in fresh, well-drained, organic rich soil.
- Care the plant tenderly, but don’t feeding it for few weeks.
Now, are you ready to add Calathea medallion in your houseplant collection?