Indoor Calathea plants

Written by bonnie grant
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Indoor Calathea plants
Calathea is grown for its unusual markings and textures on the foliage. (Hiroshi Watanabe/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Plants in the genus Calathea are primarily grown for their spectacular foliage and fuzzy texture. They are primarily tropical plants from South America. Some bear unusual flowers that complement the handsome foliage. Calatheas need humidity, warm temperatures both day and night, medium light and good drainage. There are 12 common cultivars in the genus that are for use in the home. Calathea is in the prayer plant family of Marantaceae.

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Calathea zebrina

Zebra plant can grow to 60 cm (2 feet) wide by 60 cm (2 feet) tall. It bears a little white flower in perfect growing conditions. The leaves are large and come to a point on the end with white striping running from the rib to the edges of the foliage. The large leaves curve out from short stems and make a compact arching shape. There is a red zebrina called C. ecuadoriana.

Calathea makoyana

This Calathea is also known as the peacock plant or brain plant. It is also commonly called cathedral windows because the leaves are transparent in the midrib area. The leaves are large and pale-green with oblong dark-green spots and feathered white stripes. The patterning is the same under the leaf with purple and red colouring. It bears a small white tube-shaped flower with purple edges.

Calathea insignis

The name Calathea insignis is synonymous with C. lancifolia. It is known as the rattlesnake plant, and the leaves really do mimic the scales and shape of a rattler tale. The plant is native to Brazil and also features wavy edges on the leaves and undersides with red and green patterning. Calathea insignis produces small yellow flowers in mid summer.

Other Calathea

There are numerous other plants in this genus. The popular Calathea rosa picta has oval leaves that are 15 to 22.5 cm (6 to 9 inches) long. They are green with a red rib and pink edges. Calathea louisae has dark-green leaves with a lighter green spotting, and the underside is purple. Some other varieties include: C. aemula, C. allouia, C. applicata, C. bachemiana, C. lutea and C. rufibarba. Every Calathea species has it's own unique look and patterning.

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