Calathe makoyana care

How to Care for Calathea Makoyana

Calathea Makoyana also commonly known as the peacock plant or the prayer plant. It can be found in the collections of many homeowners. They are beautifully attractive plants that can adapt well to the indoor growing environment, though some say they can be a bit difficult to grow at times.

Taking care of these plants is all about creating an environment that has all of the ideal conditions that can help ensure your plants flourish.

While there is a lot to keep track of and consider, it is not difficult with the right approach and when you start off on the right foot.

That is what this guide hopes to provide. 

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana

Caring for Your Calathea Makoyana

These plants are a good specimen example and can make any houseplant collection all the more eye-catching. Many varieties of calathea or peacock houseplants can give a variety of colors and patterns to enjoy and even a grouping of different types of plants can make a stunningly beautiful collection.

Providing humidity is ideal for healthy growth on these plants as they need a 60 percent moisture level in the air or more, especially in dry climates and in a dry, heated room.

The attractive foliage on these plants is a bold and stunning example of the unique patterns and colors that can present themselves with this houseplant. With a tall, slender growth habit, these plants add beautiful color into any collection without taking up a lot of space in the home.

Read on to see what you need to do to ensure your Calathea Makoyana looks its absolute best all year round. First, the basics!

  • Scientific Name: Calathea Makoyana
  • Common Name: Peacock plant, prayer plants, or cathedral windows
  • Light Requirements: Bright, filtered, indirect light levels.
  • Watering: Maintain good moisture with periods of drying out between.
  • Soil: Well-draining potting mix that is light and airy.
  • Temperature: 60-75°F (16-24°C) is ideal for these plants.
  • Fertilizer: Use a dilute water based fertilizer given 1-2 times a month.
  • Humidity: Minimum humidity level of 60% or higher in dry environments.
  • Repotting: Repot every early in the growing season every couple of years.
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic and safe for pets and people.

1. Light Requirements

Calathea Makoyanas come from the tropical forests of South America, where they grow under the canopy of larger trees and plants. They are accustomed to high humidity and low filtered light levels with warmer temperatures.

Because of this natural environment specification, these plants tend to have much lower light requirements than most houseplants commonly grown. This makes them great options for offices and areas of the home that might otherwise not get enough light for other popular houseplants. 

peacock plant care
Light Requirement Calathea Makoyana

The best light for a Calathea Makoyana in the home is someplace where it can get a few hours of bright, indirect light or a full day of filtered light. In rooms with a lot of light, these plants can be placed farther away from the windows or can be placed behind a curtain to help diffuse the high intensity of the light.

Avoid putting these plants in direct full sun as it can quickly scorch the leaves and will kill the plant.

2. Temperature Requirements

These native tropical houseplants thrive well indoors because they grow the best and look their best at the same temperature levels. For best looking plants with bright foliage and healthy growth, it is important to keep the Calathea Makoyana at temperatures most people are comfortable at- 60°F-75ºF (16C°-24ºC).

To avoid shocking the plant and causing it to drop leaves, you will want to take care to avoid any sudden drops or drastic changes in temperature.

calathea makoyana care Makoyana
Makoyana’s Leaf

Keep the plants out of any drafts from air conditioners, fans, or leaky windows and doors. The same needs to go for excessive heat as well as keeping plants away from register vents and heat sources will prevent humidity levels from dropping too low.

These plants can be grown outdoors on patios and balcony settings in warmer climates so long as they are kept out of direct sun and have enough humidity. In colder areas, they can be grown outdoors in the spring and summer but must be brought in well before the cold winter weather sets in.

3. Humidity Levels

While light levels and temperature ranges are among the most important of the environmental concerns for these plants, humidity is also very important. Healthy Calathea plants thrive in high humidity levels and will produce the best-looking leaves and have healthier overall vigor in more humid conditions.

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana

Calathea Makayona need humidity levels that can commonly reach upwards of 60%. Because of this, they often do well in bathrooms and kitchens where they can get enough light.

With the right moisture levels and air flow balance, your prayer plants can thrive and add a welcome splash of color to any room of your home.

4. Soil Considerations

Calathea Makoyanas do their best in soils made for a good balance of moisture retention and good drainage. The soil needs to hold moisture so the plants have access to water for longer periods of time.

But at the same time, it needs to drain well so the roots of the plant are not sitting in water for long periods of time in the pots.

Most “all-purpose” houseplant potting soil mixes will do well for Calathea Makoyana. It can be a good idea to add in some perlite or vermiculite to keep the soil lighter and to help with the balance of moisture and drainage.

calathea makoyana soil requirement
Calathea Makoyana Soil Consideration

Common soil options often are made of a mix of peat moss, perlite, coconut fiber, vermiculite, organic compost, pine bark, and slow-release fertilizers. A mix is needed as planting in straight peat moss or coconut fiber will often keep roots too damp and can lead to issues of rot and a decline in overall plant health. 

5. Watering Needs

Watering considerations are also needed in order to ensure your Calathea Makoyana is as healthy and beautiful as possible. A good rule of thumb is to water thoroughly until water runs out the bottom through the drainage holes.

Then the plant needs to be allowed to dry out a bit before it is watered again. The top one-third to half of the potting soil should get dry before the next watering to help prevent root rot and other issues caused by over-watering.

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana Flower

Drainage holes need to be present in any container used for the Calathea Makoyana. It can also help to add some rocks or stones to the bottom to ensure the roots of the plant are not constantly standing in water and soggy soil.

If over-watering is a concern or the plants are watered on a sparser and drawn-out schedule, this can help avoid issues of standing water in the pot.

6. Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilizing these plants is fairly easy as they do benefit from some mild boosts to nutrient levels to encourage healthy and vibrant foliage. You can feed your Calathea Makoyana a diluted liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.

This is best done during the active growing season which is from spring through to early autumn. In the cooler winter month’s fertilization is not needed but an occasional feeding can help ensure the plant doesn’t get too stressed out. 

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana

Calathea Makoyanas are quite sensitive to over-fertilizing, so it is best to go with the idea that less is more. The best fertilizer is one that either has an equal balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or one that has a slightly higher nitrogen level as this is what helps promote healthy foliage.

If you want a more set it and forget it approach to feeding your Calathea Makoyana, you can add a small amount of slow-release fertilizer to the potting soil and let the routine watering do the fertilizing for you.

Calathea Makoyana Pests and Diseases

Calathea Makoyanas are popular among homeowners because they are very hardy and are for the most part resistant to many of the common disease and pest problems that plague many other types of houseplants.

calathea makoyana care
Calathe Makoyana

However, they can fall to certain issues and it is important to keep an eye on the overall health and appearance of the plants.

As with a majority of houseplants, one of the biggest risks to these plants is stress, and the most common cause of stress is over-watering and poor air quality and temperatures.

Here are some of the common issues you should be on the lookout for when taking care of Calathea Makoyana. Early detection is the best way to keep issues from getting out of hand and damaging your plant.

Calathea Makoyana Pest and Diseases

1. Diseases

Caused by over-watering and poor air quality, these common Calathea Makoyana problems can cause issues if they are not dealt with in a timely manner.

2. Root Rot

This issue is the most commonly seen problem is directly related to over-watering, and is the most common problem homeowners will likely face when growing Calathea Makoyanas indoors.

The issue of over-watering can be especially problematic in the winter months when the plants are not growing as fast and will not use the water in the soil as quickly.

Calathea Makoyana Leafs
Calathea Makoyana Leafs

The roots that sit in the damp soil or worse are in standing water for longer periods of time will start to rot away. This prevents the plant from being able to take up nutrients and the decay can easily spread to the stems and leaves as well.

Symptoms can include yellow mushy leaves, visibly rotting of the stems, and black and brown roots in the soil.


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3. Pseudomonas Leaf Spot

A very common type of bacterial plant disease, Pseudomonas leaf spot, is another common issue with prayer plants grown indoors. This disease causes reddish-brown spots to appear on the tops and bottoms of the leaves.

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana Yellow Leaf

These can cause the colors of the leaves to fade and can also cause the leaves to grow in a distorted manner.

It is most commonly an issue when the leaves stay wet for long periods of time during and after watering. Damage to the leaves from things such as over fertilization or high sun exposure can weaken the leaves and make them more susceptible to this bacterial infection as well.

4. Aphids

Aphids are a very common home and garden pest that can attack a wide range of houseplants, including Calathea Makoyana. In fact, aphids are one of the most common insects seen on these plants.

The colorful, tiny, pear-shaped insects feed on the leaves and stems of the plants that they infest, using their needle-like feeders to suck the fluids out of plants.

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana

They create a substance known as honeydew that can cause secondary issues with mold and rot as it keeps the leaves damp and more susceptible to diseases.

Symptoms of aphid infestations, other than the appearance of mass colonies of aphids on the leaves and stems, usually appear as distorted foliage, a drop in plant vitality, shedding of leaves, and secondary mold and disease problems.

5. Spider Mites

Another common pest that you will need to watch out for when caring for prayer plants in the home are spider mites. Another tiny sucking pests, these spider-like insects are most commonly found under the leaves, on new growth and in services in the stems and leaf joints.

They can quickly grow to be a major problem and will gladly feed on indoor houseplants.

calathea makoyana care
Calathea Makoyana in White Pot

Spider mites, like aphids, feed by sucking out the sweet fluids that are found inside the leaves of the Calathea Makoyana.

This feeding not only robs the plant of essential water and nutrients but it also creates entry points for bacteria to get into the leaves and stems and cause even more secondary damage.

The best way to keep your Calathea Makoyana looking their best is to make inspection for pests and disease issues a part of normal plant care routines. The sooner a problem can be detected and the faster you can begin dealing with it, the better the chances are that you can save your plant and keep it from being damaged too badly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Calathea Makoyana

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

With all the basics down and a good foundation laid, there is one last thing to take care of in order to ensure you have the best possible success with your Calathea Makoyana – some common questions home gardeners like you ask about these beautiful and popular plants.

Do Calathea Makoyana produce flowers?

Yes, the Calathea Makoyana can produce flowers. However, they are not known to do so very often and they are not the most showy of flowers. This is after all a plant grown for its foliage.

Tiny white flowers can appear along the stalks and leaves but they are very small and not noteworthy or stunning in any way. Indoors it is very rare to find prayer plants producing any flowers at all.

Are Calathea Makoyana the same thing as prayer plants?

Calathea Makoyanas or Peacock Plants are commonly known by several names, including the prayer plant. It is important to note that there are many other plants that can be called prayer plants in different regions.

These plants within the Marantaceae family got the name because the leaves can fold up on themselves at night.

This can resemble two hands pressed together in prayers, thus earning this plant that nickname.

Are Calathea Makoyana considered to be toxic?

A big reason why this plant is so popular in the home is that it is not considered to be a toxic or dangerous plant. There is little to no risk of poisoning or serious side effects if the plant is accidently ingested.

It can cause an upset stomach but poisonings are not common. There are also no irritating juices or saps to worry about either when planting and trimming the plant.

How can I propagate my Calathea Makoyana?

 Once your Calathea Makoyana gets nice and full and has some decided size to it, you might want to consider splitting it into smaller plants. This form of propagation can give you more plants and also help keep your plants from getting too big.

To split our plant, remove it from the pot and gently wash off the soil from the roots.

Then with a clean and sharp knife or shears, cut the root ball apart and break the plant into smaller clumps, ensuring each clump has a good bit of roots on it still. Then repot and care for as normal and enjoy your new plants. 

What basics do I need to remember to care for a Calathea Makoyana?

Basic care for the Calathea Makoyana can be summed up with a few key points of consideration regarding the environment it is kept in. These plants do best in indirect sunlight and moderately bright light and with temperatures in the range of 60-75°F (16-24°C).

Humidity is important for these tropical plants and they thrive in 60%+ humidity.

Watering needs to be done regularly but the soil should be allowed to partially dry out between watering to prevent water-logging. Feeding with a basic liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks can encourage new growth while occasional pruning can help keep the plant looking full and healthy.

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