Calathea - a prayer flower
Calathea is part of the family of moraines, which occupy one of the first places among variegated cultures. The origin of arrowroots is associated with the humid tropical forests of Central and South America, which determined their relationship to light and air humidity. The distribution range of the calathea species is quite extensive and occupies significant areas in the tropical zone of all continents. The exception is Australia, which is separated from the rest of the continents by a significant body of water. Marantoids are also widespread in Africa, where they are represented mainly by endemic species. Some species are found in India, Burma, on the islands of the Malay archipelago and Oceania.
Biological features of the family Marantovy
Representatives of the family to which the calathea belongs are mainly herbaceous and lianoid perennials. Rhizome is the main storage organ in which stocks of water and nutrients are accumulated. They need constant high humidity. In a dry climate, water quickly evaporates and dies.
Arrowroot belong to decorative and deciduous plants. Their main charm is in variegated large leaves, which have a remarkable property characteristic only of this family. At the end of the petiole, closer to the leaf blade, there is a bulge that lifts and rotates it to a light source to capture the remains of the rays penetrating under the canopy of a moist forest. For this feature, kalatea is called the "prayer flower." In the morning, horizontally arranged leaves, by evening, fold and rise almost vertically upward, like palms in prayer.
And another feature distinguishes arrowroot from other plants growing in these same zones. In some species, after flowering, the entire aerial part dies. But the plant does not die and does not retire. After some time, with continued watering, young shoots appear and the plant comes to life. Of the 30 genera of the family, 4 are grown in room culture, including calathea.
Calathea is a perennial plant with a storage root system in the form of a tuber or rhizome. Indoors grows to 1.0 m or more. A fluffy cap of variegate leaves is formed on shortened internodes, where leaves of various shapes are located on long petioles - from lanceolate to oval rounded with a smooth or wavy edge.
Leaves are large up to 10-20 cm in length. The underside of the leaves is usually purple-pink. Sometimes there are completely dark green. The upper side of the leaf blade is spotty, divided by white lines into separate segments. The middle leaf vein is thick and was previously used as a material for weaving baskets. Hence the name kalatea, which in Greek means “basket”.
Every year, calathea forms 5-6 young leaves. Different types of calatas bloom from early spring to summer. The inflorescence in the form of a compact spike carries small nondescript flowers of various colors - from white to dark purple. Flowering can last up to 3 weeks. But, it should be noted that among the species of this genus there are also beautifully flowering ones (Kalateya Makoya, Kalateya saffron, Kalateya Varshevich).
Features of caring for calathea at home
Temperature and location
Calatheas do not require high air temperatures. In summer, the optimum is +16 .. +24 ºС, in winter with non-irrigated content +12 .. +16 ºС. There are no drafts and bright light under the forest canopy, so calatheas are very sensitive to frequent changes in temperature (when opening doors and windows) and the flow of sunlight. In this regard, it is better to place them away from bright windows, from constantly slamming doors and drafts from open windows.
Excessive lighting "eats" the variegated nature of the calathea. Trying to get away from bright lighting, plants fold leaf blades. In the historical 4-corner rooms, they will feel in their native element in a half-shaded corner, while brightening up the dullness of a boring interior consisting of corners and furniture. Soft greens, color (as if sunny) glare will enliven the interior of the room, make a new lively note in its decor
In the natural environment, calatheas grow on forest light, breathable soils. Therefore, in room culture, they need the same substrate. For planting, a soil mixture is prepared from sheet soil, peat and sand (2: 1: 1), with the addition of crushed charcoal, pieces of bark, a small amount of coniferous land. To improve physical properties and increase nutritional value, 20-30% humus is added to the mixture. In stores, you can buy a ready-made soil mixture for indoor flowers.
Humidityb when growing calathea
The main condition for the normal development of plants is air humidity. It should be high enough all year round. It is imperative to spray plants daily from a fine-mesh sprayer with clean water (without calcium and chlorine). A pot of calathea should stand on wet pebbles or moss (without obvious water). As water evaporates, the material in the pan must be moistened.
Species with velvety or pubescent leaves cannot be sprayed. They are better to bathe in the shower 2 times a month and spray the air around the plants 1-2 times a day, creating a humid microclimate. The dust on the leaves is cleaned with a dry cloth or brush, since the surface of the leaves is very delicate and easily vulnerable. To increase the natural humidity in the room, calatheas are best grown together with other flowers in the rest corners, conservatories, etc.
Moisture supply of calathea
In summer, calatheas are watered 2-3 times a week, and in winter 1 time in 6-8 days. The next watering is carried out when the top layer (2-4 cm) of the soil dries. Stagnant water in the pan is not permitted. Watering is carried out with a watering can with a narrow nose along the edge of the flower pot so that drops of water along with pieces of soil do not fall on the leaves of plants.
To provide a large above-ground mass with sufficient nutrition, calatheas must be systematically fed. During the growing season, they are fed 2-3 times a month with floral fertilizers without nitrogen and calcium. Top dressing is carried out before and after flowering.
Calathea transplant and reproduction
Young Calathea plants are transplanted annually in February-March. The roots painfully transplant the transplant, so they simply transfer the calathea to a new container, without disturbing the lump of earth on the roots of the plant. For transshipment use wide shallow pots, which is associated with the surface root system of plants. When planting, the rhizome is placed strictly vertically in the center of the pot and a new substrate is added around. The soil in the pot is only slightly compacted around the planted plant.
Such planting is necessary to maintain the breathability of the soil. Otherwise, in a dense substrate, the roots of the calathea suffocate and the plant dies. Adult plants are transferred to a new container less often, 1 time in 2-4 years. The approximate period of transplantation is determined by the appearance of the roots from the drainage hole of the pot. When transplanting, it is necessary to install a drainage layer of shards, large pebbles at the bottom of the pot.
Simultaneously with transplantation in adult plants, the formed processes with 2-3 roots and several leaves are separated. Young plants are planted in a prepared container and create greenhouse conditions by covering a new planting with a glass container or plastic bag to maintain high humidity and constant temperature. In a simulated greenhouse, the temperature ranges from +23 .. +24 ºС.
The second method of vegetative propagation is the division of the rhizome into 2 parts. Slices sprinkled with activated carbon. The remaining steps are the same as for the transplant.
Protecting Calatheas from Diseases and Pests
The delicate leaves of calathea are a tidbit for gnawing and sucking pests that try to settle on young leaves. If thrips, spider mites, scale insects, aphids, and whiteflies are found in other plants in the room, you must immediately take measures to protect Calathea from uninvited guests. In enclosed spaces (an apartment, an office, a child care facility and other institutions), pest control should not use chemical agents.
- A regular soap solution (without the addition of alcohol) will help cope with enemies. The solution is prepared from a mixture of 20 g of liquid or green soap and 1 liter of water. The mixture is thoroughly stirred until foam and treated with a plant. The soil is covered with a film from a soap solution.
- You can pollinate plants with sulfur.
- Treat with a working solution of biological products, according to the recommendations on the packaging: phytoverm, bitoxybacillin, Spark Bio, etc. The drugs are practically harmless to humans, do not cause allergic reactions.
- Florists recommend using infusions and decoctions of onion husks, garlic, walnut leaves and other natural herbs, insecticides. Using decoctions of plants, be careful. In the apartment, it is better not to use infusions of poisonous plants (bitter pepper, Dalmatian chamomile, celandine, etc.), they are contraindicated for use indoors.
Cooking infusion. Finely chop 200-300 g of husk, cloves of garlic or nut leaves, add 1 liter of water and leave for 1 week. It turns out the mother liquor. From it we prepare a worker in a proportion of 1 part of the mother liquor of 50 parts of water. We spray the plants with a solution through a small spray gun.
It should be noted that with proper care, Calatheas practically do not get sick, but they are capricious and especially do not tolerate deviations from the norm when watering and air humidity, responding to a violation of the root system disease (rot) and yellowing and falling of leaves (loss of decorativeness).
We grow calatheas indoors
Given the capricious nature of arrowroots, we can recommend several species of beautifully flowering and decorative foliage representatives of the genus Calathea for growing indoors. Easier than others to adapt to living in a room environment Calathea Bachem, decorated, Makoy, striped, Vejcha. To be patient, Calathea saffron and Kalatei Varshevich bloom in the room, distinguished by bright bracts of different shades of white, pink, orange, mistaken for a flower.
Brazil's rainforests are the natural habitat of Calathea Makoya. She does not like spraying and therefore it will be better to grow and develop in greenhouses, where there is always a sufficiently high natural humidity.
With artificial lighting, this species does not rush to lose leaf variability. It is distinguished by the amazing beauty of large (up to 20x10 cm) leaf blades on long petioles up to 14 cm long. On an oval leaf blade of light green color with a dark green edge, a thin brush of a natural artist, the second dark green, unpaired leaf is “painted” on top. The reverse side repeats the pattern, but in burgundy colors.
The unusual bright color of the plant is especially evident in the evenings, when the leaf blades rise up and fold, revealing the uniqueness of color on the underside of the leaf.
A large species that forms the habitus of the bush with dense rosettes of leaves from 0.3 to 1.0 m. Leaf blades are elongated-oval, slightly wavy. The surface of the sheet is dark green velvety with a light green herringbone pattern. The underside of leaf blades in dark purple tones.
In addition to leaves, Kalatei Varshevich’s attractive inflorescences are in the form of spikelets on short burgundy peduncles. The small-flowered spikelet carries large bright bracts (white, light cream) surrounding cream or pink flowers. Flowering begins in late spring, lasts up to 3 weeks.
Saffron calathea (crocata)
The beauty from the shores of the Amazon attracts the eye with the special decorativeness of “false” flowers collected in shortened corymbose inflorescences on high peduncles.
Real flowers are small and nondescript, reddish or pink flowers are hidden in large bracts of bright orange or saffron shades, taken as a flower. Against the background of 20-30 cm of velvety leaves of a dark green color, bright guinea inflorescences give the plant a special charm. However, for the onset of flowering, saffron Kalatea needs a shortened daylight (8-10 hours per day), so flowering occurs in early spring or in the autumn-winter period.