The Calathea [kăl′ə-thē′ə] “Beauty Star” is a lovely herbaceous perennial flower aptly named due to its attractive foliage.
You may hear Beauty Star referred to as:
- Prayer plant
- Peacock plant
- Zebra plant
Calathea is part of the Marantaceae family, an arrowroot species made up of 530 species of flowers falling into 31 genera.
Calathea plants are native to the lush tropical forests of Brazil in South America. Many nurseries and greenhouses throughout the US and other non-tropical countries sell Beauty Star cultivars as indoor houseplants.
The genus name Calathea comes from the Latin word ‘calathus,’ which translates to a basket. Many natives in the Amazon use Calathea leaves to weave baskets, thatch roofs, and sometimes for medicinal purposes.
This plant is also non-toxic to pets and humans, making it an excellent indoor plant.
Calathea Beauty Star Care
Now that you know all the statistical and descriptive information for the Beauty Star, let’s take some time to cover the essential tips you need to know to provide the appropriate care.
Growth and Size
The Calatheas Beauty Star grows between 6” and 36” (3”) high and 6” to 24” (2”) to 26” in width. The plant widens by producing offshoots under the soil.
The dark green leaves with deep purple undersides fold up, resembling the process of praying, inspiring the species’ nickname, prayer-plants.
In the daytime, the leaves bow down, which allows the leaves to soak up the light. And they move slightly to follow the direction of the sun.
Flowering and Fragrance
The Beauty Star gets its name from its attractive appearance. These plants produce upright, long, narrow leaves that are a glorious dark green shade. Along the leaf’s center, there are light green highlights.
But the stunning effects of the Beauty Star come from the vivid stripes along the leaves’ tops, which can be white, pink, or silver. The underside of Calathea leaves will be a dark, rich purple.
When growing in the wild, these plants produce flowers, but they rarely flower when grown in pots indoors. And although beautiful, the Beauty Star does not have a fragrance.
Temperature and Light
Although the Beauty Star is a tropical plant, it cannot tolerate direct sunlight. These indoor plants need medium or bright indirect light.
Constant exposure to the sun’s rays can cause the leaves to bleach out and lose their stripes.
These plants do best indoors in a North-facing window, positioned zero to one foot away. For East to West-facing windows, the plant should be one to five feet away.
With Southern windows, place the pot one to ten feet from the glass.
The rays from South-facing windows are the strongest, so you’ll want your plants further back and preferably have trees outside the window to block some of the light.
You’ll also need to control the room’s temperature, keeping it around 60°F to 85°F (between 16°C to 30°C) with a high humidity level.
The best place for your Beauty stars is a well-lit bathroom because the air is humid and has warm temperatures.
A sign that the room isn’t humid enough is the tips of your Calathea leaves turn brown.
Adding a room humidifier or pebble tray is a great way to increase humidity for houseplants and regular misting with a spray bottle.
Feeding and Watering
Beauty stars have complex watering needs – you can’t let the soil dry out between waterings, but they also don’t tolerate extended periods of soaked roots. They enjoy moist soil.
Experimentation and soil testing are the best ways to figure out your plant’s watering needs and routine. Each plant may differ.
You can use a moisture meter or insert your finger two inches into the soil. If it feels damp, don’t water it. If you don’t notice any moisture, add some water.
Calatheas should grow in a pot with drainage holes that allow the excess water to drain from the plant after each watering. You can also use a bottom-watering technique.
Avoid using tap water, which contains harsh minerals, fluoride, and chlorine. Distilled water works best, but you can also use filtered or rainwater.
Related: Details on the Special Calathea Watering Requirements.
You can use a 10-10-10 NPK (Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium) all-purpose fertilizer or liquid fertilizer monthly during spring and summer (April through October) for the needed nutrients.
But be sure not to overfertilize, as it can cause irreparable damage and poison the plant due to the chemicals and salt.
Soil and Transplanting
Beauty stars do best in commercial potting soil like African violets or using one-part perlite and two-part peat. You can also substitute one part peat with compost.
In place of perlite, you can use coco coir, coarse sand, or orchid bark.
Calathea plants do best in soil with a pH between 6.1 and 7.8. Start with a neutral pH of around 6.6 to 7.3, and then change the pH as needed, depending on your plant’s growth.
The optimal ranges are around 6.5 pH.
When repotting your Calathea Beauty Star, do it every two or three years, especially when the roots have outgrown the pot.
Maintenance and Grooming
Beauty Star plants are beautiful houseplants but need regular grooming and maintenance to thrive.
The leaves do best with a gentle wipe down using a damp, clean cloth to prevent dust from building on the leaves.