Several houseplants have become favorites among indoor plant enthusiasts, and Calatheas (prayer plant) have earned their spot in that list.
However, Calatheas, much like many other tropical plants, can be very finicky when it comes to certain aspects of Calathea plant care.
For these plants, one of the biggest problems occurs when it’s time to water them.
Here’s everything you need to know about watering these fantastic plants.
Tips On Calathea Watering
There are two significant issues to consider before watering any Calathea.
Even if you know the basics (when/how much), you may not know that the type of water you give your plant could harm it.
The “When and How Much” of Watering
One of the biggest mistakes people make when watering their calathea is to keep a schedule.
These plants can get pretty thirsty but also like a little bit of dryness to the potting soil.
As a result, the best habit is checking the soil by hand every few days.
Once the potting mix is dry to between 1 and 2” inches (depending on the Calathea species and cultivar), it’s time to water.
As for the amount, you want to soak the soil thoroughly. But, do not flood the soil.
Be sure the potting soil has good drainage, and the excess water will drain from the bottom of the pot.
Overwatering usually occurs when the soil doesn’t have enough aggregate, or there are not enough drainage holes in the pot itself. It is not because you added too much water. A soil that does not drain leads to root rot.
By adding plenty of water so it drains out, the excess water is able to cleanse salts and other harmful types minerals that buildup in the soil.
The Type of Water Matters To Calathea
Calathea is very sensitive to a range of chemicals, and the water you use can mean the difference between a happy, healthy plant and a mass of crispy Calathea leaf edges and discolored leaves.
Avoid using hard water if you can help it.
Hard water contains a lot of minerals that can pollute the potting mix and may harm your plant over time.
In fact, it’s best to avoid unfiltered tap water completely when the option is there.
Tap water contains a wide range of substances, including chlorine, dissolved minerals (calcium, zinc, lead, and others), fluoride, nitrates, and salts.
However, if you find you need to use water, we suggest you invest in a ZeroWater filtration system.
ZeroWater filters use a five-stage process that can remove most of the chemicals and dissolved minerals from tap water, making it safe for both you and your plants to drink.
In addition, let the water sit overnight to allow any chlorine gas to escape and serve your plant the filtered water at room temperature.
By far, the best water option for your plants is distilled water (AKA baby water) or natural rainwater.
Even water collected from your air conditioner or dehumidifier is generally usable, as these are a form of distilled water.
These are about as close to nature as you can get, and your plants will thrive off of them.
You can supplement non-rainwater with hydrogen peroxide to more closely emulate rainwater, although this should not be done with every watering session.
When using fertilizer, use a liquid houseplant food at 1/2 strength every 3rd or 4th time you water during the growing season.
Closing Thoughts on Watering Calathea Plants
The many different types of Calathea varieties put on a beautiful display of foliage. They are a fun tropical plant group to collect. But to make them looks their best:
- Give them bright indirect light no direct sunlight
- Provide high humidity
- But first you need to start with the right water