As a variegation of Calathea genus, Calathea White Fusion has stolen the spot in botanical world. Along with its skyrocketed popularity, it is even harder to find this plant in local garden center.
Due to their complex nature, Calathea White Fusion plants are not for beginner. They are basically more sensitive than other Calathea plants. Nonetheless, this plant could be a great challenge for expert gardener or plant collector.
Calathea plants are a native of South America. In Malaysia, 2007, Taiyan Yam conducted a cutting process of Calathea lietzei from Marantaceae family in a nursery. Ultimately, the parent plant successfully produced Calathea White Fusion cultivar.
As a matter of fact, many variegated plants have more striking appearance than their parent plants. Consequently, they have more specific requirements and a bit difficult to care for.
Rarity and Price
Their number is not massive, but the demand is high. To get such a cool foliage, an expertise skill is crucial. It means that producing Calathea White Fusion alone is rather hard for ordinary people.
In short, you may need to pay more for them. You may expect to pay from 70-95 dollars. And you are lucky enough if successfully grab this plant with your hands.
Features and Peculiarity
Thanks to variegation/cultivation effort, Calathea White Fusion has green foliage with white lilac markings. The purple-reddish underside hue continues to the stem where each leaf stands. Moreover, the splash of white color looks like a painting and peacock tail. This is the reason why people call Calathea as Peacock Plant and Cathedral Window Plant.
Nyctinasty is a natural response where foliage curls/folds up at night. When morning comes, the foliage unfolds back to its original form.
The truth is Calathea White Fusion is not the real “prayer plant” like what people think. Maranta genus that also a part of Marantaceae family has the same habit, but it is a part of circadian rhythm. In contrast,nyctinasty of Calathea White Fusion depends of the light changes.
Like many evergreen plants, the flowers of Calathea White Fusion seldom bloom. Under a very ideal condition, a mature Calathea might produce flower in spring or summer. When grown as indoor plants, it is almost impossible to witness their flowers.
Furthermore, the flowers don’t have beautiful shape and sweet fragrance. They are plain to be honest. Thus, don’t focus too much on the flowers. Instead, please appreciate what the already stunning leaves.
An average mature size of Calathea White Fusion is 1-2 ft tall and 1 ft wide. This plant tends to grow wider than higher. Thus, you must provide the right place to put them.
Young plants are mostly weaker, but will get stronger when mature with proper care. Calathea plants grow rapidly in spring and summer, but slowly in winter.
The recommended hardiness zones for growing outdoor is 11b-12b USDA. Outside that region, you must move the plant back indoor in winter.
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has stated that Calathea is a non-toxic plant for pets. Humans will not be in danger when accidentally eat this greenery unless they are already have upset stomach.
Again, the purpose of this plant is mainly for decoration rather than salad ingredients. For safety, keep the plant away from children and pets.
First Steps With Calathea White Fusion
- Prepare the most similar environment you can mimic at home. This include ideal lighting, high humidity, and stable temperature.
- Check the plant health. If the plant show a sign of pest, bacteria, or fungal infection, isolate it first.
- Examine the soil moisture. Provide a bit of drink if the top soil dry. Then, see if the nursery pot has ample drainage holes for good drainage.
- Increase the humidity.
- Let the plant rest. Don’t take extreme measures such as propagation or fertilizing.
Leaves would be the first part that receive the light. Calathea White Fusion requires a constant bright indirect light to keep their foliage marks. The term “indirect” also covers medium, filtered, and diffused light.
Excessive direct light from sunlight and a close-distance bulbs would scorch the leaves. Actually, this plant is still able to tolerate lower indirect light. In spite of that, the leaf pattern will gradually fade away along with slower growth.
Choosing the window
Ideally, the window must transfer morning or evening sunlight which is gentle for the plant. North or east-facing window could do this job well. Despite the window direction, when the sunlight is too bright and hot, use opaque film, sheer curtain, or partial blind to diffuse the sunlight. Moving the plant back further would help too.
Artificial light provides consistent lighting when it comes to indoor setting. For instance, fluorescent lighting assists the plant that stays in darker area. And when using bulbs, set the distance to 18-24” above the plant.
Grow light will support the plant in winter. Fortunately, online shops have been selling many excellent grow lights. They have a timer setting where you can determine how long the lamp will turn on in a day. The suggestion is 12 hours of light and then it will turn off automatically.
You should keep the temperature in the range of 15°-27°C for Calathea White Fusion plants. They despise extreme temperature. Hence, things like cold draft and heating vent will ruin their mood.
They like warmer temperature, but too much heat is unacceptable. Lower temperature is also not good because Calatheas are not used to frost in their natural habitat. An extended cold condition possibly kill the plant.
This plant must be away from any cooling and heating sources in general. The examples are AC, oven, fans, fire place, as well as open window and door. In addition, they create a dry air which heavily affects the humidity level.
Read also : Calathea Makoyana: Astonishing Peacock Plant
A higher humidity than the average is what Calathea loves. Therefore, try to imitate the humidity in the jungle as best as you can.
Rank of humidity level
> 85% = increase the risk of disease and pest infestation
75% to 85% = closer to the rainforest condition, more preferable
50% to 60% = average level to keep the plant calm
< 40% = causing dehydration
The problem is some household temperatures tend to be lower. Besides the season change, appliances at home often create drier air.
- Place the plant in the bathroom. It is better if there is a north/east facing window nearby. Be careful not to let hot water sprays the plant accidentally.
- Utilizing other tropical houseplants. Here, the transpiration process creates a natural micro-climate environment. With this method, Calathea White Fusion would get free high humidity from these plants.
- Setting up pebble tray. You must refill the water often to keep providing higher humidity.
- Turn on the humidifier. If you are busy and have many plants, this is the right option. It can cover a big room with many plants at once.
- Move the pot under garden cloche or dome. It works to increase humidity and create a beautiful display.
Use hygrometer for easy check.
Protecting the plant from cold draft is good, but you must provide good ventilation too.
A standard soil combination for Calathea is potting soil, perlite, and peat. This blend is able to provide a well-drained and aerated soil. In other hand, heavy or clayey soil is NOT smart choice.
Especially for Calathea cultivars, many recommend using African violets. This plant will appreciate more if you add other supporting materials instead of a plain potting soil.
Combinations to try
- potting mix, succulent soil/coir, and perlite (30 %: 30 %: 30 %)
- peat moss, commercial potting soil, and perlite (40 %: 20 %: 40 %)
- orchid bark/clay pebbles, coco coir, perlite, (6: 4: 4 portions), pumice (2 parts), plus a bit of sphagnum moss
- potting soil –> to deliver nutrient
- peat moss –> to retain enough moisture
- perlite – to promote aeration and improve drainage
Tips. Coir is a more suitable material for lighter soil.
Watering every week in summer is common. Increase the frequency when the plant gets thirsty often. It is normal since the hot temperature quickly dries the soil.
On the contrary, reduce the water intake frequency in winter. You could water the plant once every two weeks in this period.
To find the right time for watering, check the top soil moisture first. The simple rule is: wet means no watering now, dry means wait for next watering. Another indication of thirsty plant is crispy and brown leaves.
Moisture meter is another effective way. Check the soil moisture (daily if possible) before watering. If the meter shows wet condition, don’t water the plant. Overwatering will harm the delicate root.
Condition for proper watering
- Proper soil and pot with drainage holes. Without these two things, bacterial and fungal infection may occur. Water thoroughly with moderate amount of water. The excess water must drain through the bottom holes.
If you use saucer or collection plate, throw the excess water left there. It might be necessary to wipe the droplets of water left on the foliage.
- Free-chemical water. Do you have well water? If yes, you’re lucky. You don’t have to buy water or going through long de-chlorination process. Why? It is because Calathea cannot tolerate chemical water.
Here are other water options you can choose.
- Collected rainwater. Pros: natural and free-chemical, easy to collect. Cons: it is harder if the region rarely rains or you might forget to collect the rainwater.
Tips. Stock the rainwater water as much as you can so that you don’t have to wait for the next rain. Don’t let the plant dehydrates.
- Distilled water. Several enthusiasts even use a water distiller for thorough cleaning. Some water distiller also have compact size and portable. The good thing is, you can also use this water for humidifier.
- Tap water. Most city tap water contains salt and mineral which the plant dislikes. The solution is to fill an empty container with tap water. Leave it overnight to let the chemical substances go away.
Always give room temperature water.
MORE water at once = NO.
LESS water often = YES.
During a growing season, apply liquid fertilizer once a month. Fertilizer is not necessary in winter months and after repotting.
Choose nitrogen rich fertilizer to promote dense foliage. Another recommendation is using balanced liquid fertilizer with NPK 10:10:10 and diluted it with water. Using commercial organic fertilizer is safer than the chemical fertilizer.
Based on the fertilizer package recommendation, dilute the fertilizer half (1/2) the strength. By doing this, you prevent root burn. Strong dosage will kill the plant.
If you notice burn marks or brown spots on the leaves, reduce the dosage on the next feeding. Meanwhile, flush the soil (± 10 min under water faucet) to get rid of the built-up salt concentration.
DIY organic fertilizer
How about by making your own organic fertilizer instead of buying the commercial product? The most common fertilizer recipe is compost tea. Steps to make compost tea are as follows.
Just fill half of a container with water and compost. Then, leave it for several days. Next, you can strain it and dilute it half with water for feeding. This compost tea works a slow-release fertilizer.
With this, you can save more money. Subsequently, you don’t have to feed the plant often.
Read also : Calathea Rattlesnake : Also Known As Lancifolia
- Prepare sterile and sharp shears. It will make sure you cut them cleanly. Clean cut will heal faster.
- Prune the damaged, dying, and dead leaves. Remove them at the stem base. Don’t forget to throw the fallen leaves on the soil too.
New leaves will grow fairly quick, so don’t worry to cut them as needed.
Calathea plants need cleaning to get rid of the dust and debris. Accumulated dust could hinder the photosynthesis, respiration, and water exchange process. Cleaning also beneficial to prevent pest attack.
- First, you can shower them with room temperature water. Hot/cold water could shock the plant.
- Second, hand wash the leaves with a mix of water and neem oil every month
Propagation aims to maintain the plant size and multiply the plant. ONLY propagate a healthy and mature plant.
Node cutting and sown seed method has low successful rate. In that case, the only good option is through division.
There are 2 reasons why growing months are the best time for propagating:
- New growths emerge and will be ready to propagate.
- The plant will have enough time to recover from transplant shock.
Before propagating start, water the plant a day before. You must prepare:
- new quality pots with 3, 4, 6 inches in size,
- well-drained and rich soil (with the same combination of the mother plant’s soil),
- clean knife/trowel, and
- a clean flat area.
Note. This area is important since you don’t want make your living room dirty.
- First, take out the mother plant gently. Tilt the pot sideway and try to roll the plant out.
- Second, remove the excess soil for better vision.
- Third, divide the plant by choosing the two ptions below.
- First, split the mother plant in half (but people seldom do it). You just have to cut through the root system cleanly into 2.
- Second, separate the offsets and plant them individually (this is more common). If you see natural separation of roots, you can divide them by hands. When you find an intertwined roots, use knife to untangle them.
Note. Each part must have leaf, stem, and root. The minimum height for the offset is 7 inches.
- Fourth, replant each section in new pot.
- Fifth, for 2 to 4 weeks, put them in warm place with higher humidity and reduced light.
- Last, return them back to the original spot after you see new growth. It means each section has settled and established.
Note. After propagation using division method, your plant might look tired. However, with proper care and patience your plant will look fresh and healthy again in no time.
Remember that you have more than one Calathea White Fusion now, so be responsible.
Potting and Repotting
Over the time, your Calathea will get bigger while the pot is not. So, you might have to repot every one or two years. Repotting is also a good time to refresh the soil.
Naturally, root bound forces the plant to repot. If you leave it for too long, root bound would cause fungal infection. When the roots don’t function properly, stunted growth and wilting leaves will happen.
- Use a slightly larger pot around 1-2 inches. Much bigger pot might result in overwatering.
- Plastic pot is suitable to retain enough water. If you often overwater the plant, consider using unglazed terra pot. This type of pot is porous and will allow excess water to drain out.
- Drainage hole is a must. It is more convenience than using double pot. A cheap plastic pot with drained holes will not empty your purse.
What to do
- After successfully lift the plant from old pot, replant in a new upsize pot.
- Fill 2/3 of the pot with the rest of soil.
- Pat the surface light to secure the plant position in the center.
- Water the plant properly by not letting excess water creates a pool.
- Place the plant in a humid spot with indirect light.
Note. Use the same pot if you want to keep the current plant size. Clean the pot first and then fill with fresh soil.
Best time for repotting is during spring.
To lessen the stress, water the plant 1-2 days before repotting.
Gently move the plant during the process, especially because of the fragile roots. DON’T breathe, tickle, touch, or disturb the root by any means.
Common Pests & Diseases
Calathea plants do not easily surrender to pest and disease unless they are weak. Honestly, variegated or cultivated plants are rather picky compare to their parent plants. When the basic variables (e.g., light, humidity, temperature, etc.) are unbalanced, many issues would arise.
|Aphids||Tiny gray/green flies live undersides.||Sticky substance exist on the leaf and stem.||Spray the plant with warm-soapy water.|
|Fungus gnat||Black flies lingering near plant, like high humid area.||Yellow and wilting leaves.||Cut the affected leaves and use sticky traps.Sometimes, people use nematode (a worm that eat gnat larvae)|
|Spider mite||Small red or white pest, like dry environment.||Brown spot and white web.||First, put a white piece of paper below the leaves then shake them to find the pest.Second, shower the plant to flush the pest.Last, wipe or spray using the following mix options: water plus neem oil, dish soap, or rubbing alcohol.|
Tips. Natural ways such as using neem oil or predatory mites are effective and safer for plant. Neem oil works to eradicate and prevent the pest.
Note. It might takes several weeks before the plant is fully free from pest. Pest eggs are hard to eliminate, but you must prevent the next generation of pest to grow.
Signs such as wilting leaves, yellow leaves, brown tips, and so on are common in Calathea. If simple tasks such as trimming and fix the lighting, watering, etc. don’t work, BEWARE of serious matter.
Pseudomonas leaf spot
You will notice white splotches on the foliage due to pseudomonas bacteria. The infection could spread to other plants quickly. Remove the infected parts and apply a copper-based anti-bacteria. As a prevention, only water the soil instead of the foliage or start watering from the bottom.
Leaves turn green
This may occur because of the insufficient photosynthesis. In other words, the plant doesn’t have enough chlorophyll. In fact, this “revert” phenomenon is normal in variegated plants which is a mutation from a pure-green (parent) plant.
Sadly, experts say that it is incurable once it is widely spread. However, providing a moderate-bright indirect light and propagating might work. You can try this solution if the reversion still occurs in small area.
Since the highlight of this cultivar is the white markings, it would be a shame to lose this feature.
When the soil is too soggy, the roots have to stay in standing water. Eventually, a prolonged period of this condition will trigger fungal disease. As a results, the roots become brown and mushy underground. Moreover, yellowing leaves and slow growth becomes clearer on the surface.
- Find any white and firm roots which indicating healthy condition.
- Remove the sick root as soon as possible using sterile and sharp knife.
- Apply anti-fungal to the area where the roots have been cut.
- Wash the pot using warm soapy water.
- Put the healthy plant in new, fresh, well-drained soil.
- Lastly, ensure the soil is loose enough to let the roots breathe easily.
Note. Quarantine the plants if they are sick due to pest or illness until a complete recovery.
Tips. Check the plant thoroughly on daily basis will make a huge difference. You must do this at least every week or when you water the plant.