Calathea Watering: Why The Type Of Water Matters

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Several houseplants have become favorites among indoor plant enthusiasts, and Calatheas (prayer plants) have earned their spot on that list. From Calathea Freddie to the beautiful Calathea orbifolia, many variations satisfy just about every person’s taste.

However, Calatheas, much like many other tropical plants, can be very finicky regarding certain aspects of Calathea plant care. One of the biggest problems for these plants is calathea watering, especially when it’s time to water them.

correct calathea watering uses the right waterPin

Here’s everything you need to know about how to water calathea plants.

Tips On Calathea Water Requirements

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 Calathea Watering

One of the biggest mistakes people make when watering their calathea is to keep a schedule.

So how often to water calathea?

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 mix 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 can cleanse salts and other harmful types of minerals buildup in the soil.

Mature pinstripe calathea with white stripesPin
Mature Calathea ornata with white stripes

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 many 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 need to use tap water, we suggest you invest in a ZeroWater filtration system.

ZeroWater filters use a five-stage process that can remove most chemicals and dissolved minerals from tap water, making it safe for 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.

Potted Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia) Gaylord Palms Hotel Orlando, FloridaPin
Potted Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia) Gaylord Palms Hotel Orlando, Florida

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 but no direct sunlight
  • Provide a humid environment with high humidity levels
  • But first, you need to start with the right water

Popular Calathea Varieties to Grow and Collect

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