Calathea is a large genus of plants with several dozen very distinct species. Indoor plant enthusiasts enjoy growing Calathea plants for the colorful leaf markings, indicated by names such as rattlesnake plant, zebra plant, or peacock plant.
Will Calathea grow outdoors? It depends on your climate because Calathea is a tropical plant. If you’re fortunate to live in a warm, humid climate in USDA plant hardiness zone 8 or above, you can certainly try growing calathea plants in your garden. Read on for more info on growing Calathea plants in gardens.
Calathea Plant Info
Calathea are tender perennials that grow in clumps from tuberous, underground roots. The blooms, which appear occasionally on most types of plants, are insignificant compared to the big, bold leaves. However, some types of Calathea boast very noticeable yellow or orange blooms that grow on spikes above the foliage.
A relatively fast-grower, Calathea reaches heights of 1 to 2 feet (31-61 cm.), depending on the species. It works well in borders or as a tall groundcover. It is also well suited for containers.
How to Care for Calatheas Outside
Calathea care in gardens is not too complicated provided the plant has all its needs met. Place Calathea in shade or filtered light. The colorful markings will fade in direct sunlight. Allow 18 to 24 inches (45-61 cm.) between plants.
Water frequently to keep the soil moist, but never soggy, especially during hot weather. Calathea is generally not bothered by disease as long as it receives proper care. Water at soil level to avoid bacterial and fungal diseases. Similarly, avoid watering in the evening.
Feed Calathea three or four times between early spring and fall, using a good quality, balanced fertilizer. Water well after fertilizing.
A layer of mulch keeps the soil cool and moist. However, limit mulch to a couple of inches (5 cm.) if slugs are a problem.
Spider mites are sometimes a problem, especially for Calathea grown in too much sunlight. Insecticidal soap spray usually takes care of the problem but avoid spraying the plant during the hottest part of the day.
You can propagate new Calathea plants by taking cuttings or by dividing mature plants.