As the name suggest, the pattern on Calathea roseopicta leaves makes them outstanding among other houseplants. Some people said that this plant is too fussy and pretty hard to please. Well, they might not be the friendliest plant on earth, but once you know them, the care will be easier.
Now, let’s see what this plant has.
The first discovery of Calathea was in 1869. This is a native plant of Brazil, but you can easily find it in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Many Calatheas have feathery pattern which differentiates them from other tropical plants such as Alocasia and Philodendron.
This plant has several nicknames includes Rose-Painted Calathea and Rose-Painted Prayer Plants. Calathea. The literal meaning of the word “roseopicta” itself is picture of roses. Recently, botanists have classified this plant under Goeppertia roseopicta name. Although it is the official scientific name, it is more common to use Calathea roseopicta when talking about this greenery.
Many people have attempted to produce more cultivars from Calathea roseopicta due to its striking foliage. Several well-known sub-species/hybrids of Calathea roseopicta are ‘dottie’, eclipse,’ and ‘medallion’. Furthermore, hybrid and cultivar plants usually have stricter care requirement than their parent plants.
As an evergreen perennial plant, this plant could live for several years indoor without much trouble under the ideal conditions. The rate growth of Calathea roseopicta plants is moderate, so they don’t mature quickly.
This plant is able to grow up to 50 cm tall while the leaf average size is 15×22 cm. The leaves tend to grow wider than taller. When growing this plant, you must use its original habitat in Brazil as the main reference.
Calathea roseopicta has broad elliptical leaves. The ‘rosy’ one upper side leaves is dark green with feathery pink pattern like somebody has hand-painted it. Meanwhile, the red-purple undersides will welcome you once you flip the leaves. Moreover, the pink stripes turn into white once the plant matured.
Calatheas have a unique habit called photophilic where the leaves fold upward at night. During the day, the leaves unfold back to its state to receive a maximum light amount. Basically, lighting influences this regular movement.
Rose-Painted plant indeed produces some small flowers in white and purple. They usually bloom in summer, but in indoor setting it is very rare to see such sight.
Because blooming requires the plant to spend more energy, some gardeners decide to trim the flowers. Actually, this is a common practice and it won’t hurt the plant.
Is Calathea Roseopicta Toxic?
Calathea roseopicta is not a toxic plant both for human beings and animals, especially cat and dog. If you have active pets, you better put that plant away from their reach. Pets that like to munch plant leaves may suffer from tummy aches.
To determine the best location for your Calathea roseopicta, you should refer to the tropical forest habitat. It means that this plant thrives best under indirect lighting, high humidity, and stable temperature.
USDA growth zones under 10 to 11 would be an ideal area to grow Calathea. If you live outside that region, you must be extra careful when winter comes. This plant is not familiar with frost, so take your Calathea outside when the temperature drops in cold months.
Actually, caring Calathea roseopicta inside the house is easier although you must consider certain aspects. Bathroom is one of the favorite location of Calathea plant’s owners. This spot is naturally more humid than the rest of the house.
The tricky part is whether a room provides ample lighting for the plant growth. If your bathroom or office cannot provide enough light, please consider moving your plant somewhere else. Additionally, the average home temperature is good enough to make the plant feel comfortable.
In the wild, Calatheas live under the shaded of trees. These trees naturally filter the bright sunlight above, thus Calatheas could receive indirect light most of the time.
The basic lighting requirement for this plant is bright indirect light. Here is the brief explanation.
- First, the actual sunlight outside is brighter than indoor lighting condition. Therefore, shade or shelter is important to protect this plant from direct sunlight. Brown and crisp leaves are the sign of sunburn.
- Second, light intensity influences the leaf color. Plant with lighter color would be okay with low light condition. In contrast, darker leaves would need more light in order to maintain their bold color. Leaf discoloration, fading pattern, limp stalks, and slower growth indicate that the plants don’t get enough light.
Spot with best lighting
- North, west, or east-facing window
Consider using sheer curtain or put the plant 6-10 feet away from the window to avoid direct and hot sunlight.
- Room with artificial lighting
This kind of lighting is a great investment if you don’t have room with natural bright light. In addition, it also provides the lighting supply particularly during winter when the sunshine exposure decreases.
Note. This plant would love to have 8 to 10 hours of indirect light in a day.
Read also : Calathea Musaica: A Friendly Plant for Beginners
Maintaining ideal humidity in non-tropical climate is a difficult task for any Calathea owners. Besides, during winter the air becomes drier due to the heating source inside the house.
Calathea roseopicta plants absolutely prefer humidity level from 60% to 80%. They would try to forgive us with 40% humidity level. However, they won’t tolerate lower humidity than that. To protest over draught they experience, Calatheas will show imperfect growth and brown edges.
Furthermore, too high humidity level might lead to bacterial and fungal infection as well as pest infestation. Improper watering and imbalanced soil also contribute to this issue, in a bad way.
Several ways to keep the humidity level that suit your plant needs.
- Using humidifier
- Placing water pebble tray under the pot
- Gathering plants
- Moving the plant in humid room/area (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, old aquarium, terrarium, or plastic bin filled with sphagnum moss).
Note. Misting the leaves only able to slightly raise the humidity level. Excessive misting may invite fungal infection.
If you are fine with the current temperature, Calathea roseopicta would also be okay. This plant could adapt well in warmer temperature as long as it is not dehydrated.
The acceptable temperature range for Calathea is 18°C to 24°C. As it could not stand cold, a temperature below 15°C will hurt the plant.
Moreover, this plant detests temperature fluctuation. Rose-Painted plant must avoid any source that may cause sudden change either hot or cold.
Some source of temperature change:
- Hot = heating vent, radiator, oven, etc.
- Cold = draft from open door/window, air conditioner, fans, etc.
Watering Calathea is all about practicing good habit. Unfortunately, this is also the trickiest task when caring Calathea.
So, what makes watering difficult for Calatheas? These plants demand a healthy and balanced watering. They do not want to be too wet or too dry.
First, check the soil moisture level.
- Stick your finger in the soil or use moisture meter to make sure the top soil (1-2 inches) is dry before watering. Don’t rely on schedule as the nature and environment may change along with the plant requirements.
Second, use quality water.
- To avoid the plant stress, use room temperature water. Also, Calathea is prone to minerals, salt, and other chemical substance which are usually exist in tap water. Leave tap water in an open jar overnight if you want to use it.
- For the plant safety, please use rainwater, purified water, bottled water, or distilled water. You can invest on water distiller to make sure all water sources you have pass through the de-chlorination process. In short, room temperature water without harmful substance will save the day.
Third, wait for the water to drain.
- When watering this plant, the water should not take long to sink in the soil. If for one minute the water clogs and creates a pool, it means there is something wrong with the soil.
- Usually, you have to wait for a couple of minutes before all the excess water drain completely after each watering. It will go smoothly with well-drained soil and drainage holes on the pot.
Fourth, adjust watering frequency.
- In warm months, the hot temperature make the plant thirsty often and the soil dries faster. So, you can increase the watering frequency about 2 or 3 times a week.
- In winter, it will take some rest and will not need more water to grow. Hence, you can water once a week or even less after checking the top soil dryness.
Tips. Water a little bit but often is safer than pouring much water at once.
- Don’t let the leaves wet for a day since fungal infection may occur. For this reason, expert suggest to water from the bottom and avoid excess misting.
- Additionally, look for other signs such as: leaf spot, burned/crispy tip, droopy leaves, or leaves curl inward instead of upward. If you notice these signs earlier, you can prevent the plant from getting bone dry and suffering from root problem.
Calathea roseopicta soil requirements
- Well-drained soil will save ample moisture while letting the excess water flows out. Moist but not too soggy is what the plant wants.
- Aerated structure could guarantee that the roots have oxygen supply.
Gardeners’ soil recommendation is soilesss mix or peat-based potting mix/regular potting soil with 1/3 or 1/5 perlite. Perlite works to improve drainage and increase aeration in the soil. Nevertheless, coco coir is better at holding the water. As a result, sometimes people replace perlite with coco coir.
An excellent potting mix composition for Calathea must have acidic to neutral pH level around 6.5-7.0. For a precise measurement, use the affordable pH meter to carry out a simple test.
Even though fertilizer is not as crucial as lighting, watering, and humidity issues, Calathea still needs it moderately. Slow growth, stunted growth, and yellow leaves might be the signs that your plant lacks of nutrients.
Growing season is the best time to feed the plant. During this period, the plant absorbs the nutrient well. In reverse, stop feeding the plant in the cold months. If you persist, many unused fertilizer would build up and change into poison for the plant.
Common suggestion is to use balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer and dilute it at 1/2 strength of the recommended dosage. Give this to the plant once or twice a month in spring and summer. The purpose of dilution at half strength is to avoid root burn.
- Synthetic/inorganic fertilizers
(+) effective, efficient, able to penetrate into soil faster, quick effect
(-) the substance inside could burn the plant, thus you must dilute it every time (1/2 or 1/4 strength).
- Organic fertilizers
(+) safer because it uses organic matters (e.g., fish emulsion, worm castings), could last for months before the next feeding
(-) slow effect, won’t effective if the plant needs urgent nutrient
- Calatheas that grow in soilless mix (not organic rich) will need fertilizer and vice versa.
- Water the plant before applying fertilizer and spread the fertilizer evenly except on the leaves.
Regular pruning would encourage new growth and prevent pest, virus, and pathogen. While pruning, you can double check the plant health as well.
- Use isopropyl/rubbing alcohol to sterile the shears.
- Instead of only the leaves, you should cut the stem at the soil level.
- Remove the damaged, dying, and dead foliage. Yet, spare the leaves which still has healthy (green) part.
- Wash or wipe the leaves to remove dust and debris.
- Clean the tools after you finish.
Note. Beware of many yellow leaves especially near the plant’s interior. It might not be a natural shedding.
Potting and Repotting
One of the beginner mistakes when growing Calathea is using the wrong pot. As a complete package, good soil and proper watering will fail without the right pot.
Why pot matter
Nursery pot for Calathea should made of plastic with drainage holes at the bottom. The plastic material would keep the plant from deadly dryness. On the other hand, the drainage holes let the excess water flows out easily from the pot.
Some prefer to put this pot inside a decorative container (because it looks pretty). However, you must take out the plastic nursery pot in every watering and put it back after the water drain. Honestly, it would be more troublesome and not efficient.
|Why||Roots have outgrown outside the pot area so the pot is too small for them.The plant is unhealthy.|
|When||Every 1or 2 year because of moderate growth pace.In spring, since the plant is in top condition and to reduce plant stress.|
|How||Water the plant a day before repotting.Prepare a slightly wider pot (1-2 inches max.). Too large pot causes overwatering.TRY to give new potting mix with the same composition as the old soil. Different or upgraded soil mixture (e.g., by adding orchid bark) is fine, but it takes time for the plant to adjust.|
|After||Repotted plants need time to recover, so don’t bother them by giving them fertilizer for instance.|
Cutting method is impossible while growing from seed is less effective. The only one left is propagating through division.
ONLY propagate a healthy and mature plant in spring. Propagation and repotting may take place at the same time to lower the risk of transplant shock.
- Unpot the mother plant carefully.
- Lay it down in a flat surface for inspection after removing the attached soil.
- Separate the roots from the plant. Each root must have one leaf and one stem at minimum.
- Replant each root/clump in a pot containing fresh soil. If possible, use the exact potting mix composition like what the mother plant has.
- Water the plant moderately to keep the soil moist.
- Put them under moderate indirect light and constant temperature.
- To maintain high humidity, you can wrap them with plastic bag.
- After a few weeks, new sprout will grow and you can go back with the old care routine.
Note. It is normal to seem some healthy leaves fall during propagation. Don’t worry as the plant would recover from it.
Minimizing the risk
- Increase humidity level
The reason is pest like spider mites like dry condition.
- Try not to place a lot of plant in small space
A group of greenery may attract pest and spread the infestation rapidly.
To spot the super tiny pests, thoroughly check the undersides, stalks, and soil. The earlier you find the problem, the better.
- Aphids: produce honeydew and create black sooty mold
- Mealybugs: can increase their population really fast, like staying on the stem and under the leaf
- Scales: often attack new growth and stem
- Spider mites : like low humidity, form white web undersides, create holes on the leaf
- Quarantine the plant
- Shower under running water with enough force to kick out the pest. Covering the soil could avoid the plant from getting too wet.
- Trim the affected leaves and throw them away in a plastic bag.
- Generally, you can use (wipe & spray) horticultural oil (neem oil), insecticidal soap, and cotton balls soaked with alcohol. They have been effective in eliminating the pests. In addition, they are also safe for the plant and environment.
Completely cover the plants with the treatment solution. A wet solution would effective kill the pests before it dries.
FYI: Another success attempt to kill spider mite is by using Diatomaceous Earth. Coat the plant with powder in dry condition and then wash it away when watering.
- Introducing natural enemy like ladybugs.
- Please repeat the treatment above until all pests die.
- The use of commercial miticide and other chemical products is allowable under severe cases. Always follow the label instruction properly for a successful pest eradication.
The diseases that Calatheas have are mostly involving bacterial and fungal infections. The common causes include overwatering which leads to soggy soil, wet leaves, and too high humidity.
Yellowing leaves, brown tips, crispy edges, dropping leaves, and limp stem will occur as a result of incorrect care. What you need to do is correcting your care and maintenance routine. For instance, you can use humidifier to raise humidity and check the soil moisture before watering.
Beside the symptoms above, there is a chance that your plant suffers from more serious issue.
Large, dark green/black lesions or spots could appear due to pseudomonas bacteria. The solution is to discard the infected parts and usecopper bactericides.
Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)
This is not a common disease, but it probably attacks your Calathea roseopicta. It causes rugged yellow streaks on the foliage. Even though it is not dangerous, it could spread to other weak plant.
First, the root would experience extended waterlogged and overly wet due to:
- excessive rainfall,
- poor drainage, or
- too much humidity.
Second, the leaves on the lower part of plant turn yellow and stunted growth occurs.
Third, it is getting worse when more yellow leaves appear on the upper plant part. Foul smell and the sight of dark and mushy root will follow later.
- If you suspect root rot at the initial stage, improve air circulation and reduce watering frequency first.
- Isolate the plant.
- Prune the unhealthy leaves, stems, and roots.
- Replant the remaining healthy plant part including the white and solid roots.
How To Buy Calathea Roseopicta
- You can buy Calathea in local nursery, plant stores, garden center, or online shops. This is not a very rare plants, so don’t worry if the stock is empty. In online stores, you can buy one or more Calatheas at once. The price range is around 20-90 US dollars.
- Calathea roseopicta itself has its own varieties with various color and pattern. In case you are confused, try asking the expert for more information. Remember that each plant would have different treatment.
- Once you get Calathea roseopicta, check the health and pest infestation possibility. Don’t group the plant with other greeneries first and don’t take drastic action such as repotting.