How to Care for Your Calathea Medallion

Calathea Medallion plants are a popular variety of houseplants. While it isn’t necessarily a difficult plant to take care of, it isn’t an easy one either. However, when you know how to properly care for it and take steps to help the plant thrive, it’ll be more likely to last and look healthy. 

Through this piece, we’ll be giving you insight based on my trials and tribulations as well as the extensive research I’ve put into owning plants, particularly, the calathea medallion. 

General Information for Calathea Medallion

The calathea medallion is classified as a hybrid flowering plant, meaning that it’s genetically different from its parent plants. Therefore, a genetically diverse plant may have one parent with white flowers and the other with pink flowers but may end up having yellow flowers. 

The calathea medallion is native to Brazil. Its leaves are round and have a bordered pattern, though the design varies greatly. The leaves can grow to be five to 10 inches in size. The underside of the plant is usually burgundy.

This plant may grow up to four feet tall once it’s completely mature. 

calathea medallion care
Bushy Calathea Medallion

In its native country, it grows well outside. However, for most areas of the United States, this plant won’t survive the cold weather spells. It ideally enjoys temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to mention, it does poorly during frosts.

For these reasons, this plant only grows well outside in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) hardiness zones nine through 11. Some examples of states in these zones include the following: 

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Louisiana

With that being said, no matter where you live, you can still have a calathea indoors since you can regulate the temperature there. 

Caring for Calathea Medallion

If you want your calathea medallion to grow beautiful and healthy, you’ll need to take certain steps to make it happen.

1. Light Requirement

When you position your potted plant, keep in mind that it’ll grow best in indirect or ambient sunlight. As a result, you could plant it in an east or south-facing room. As a general rule, it grows best when it has that indirect or diffused lighting all day for as many hours as possible. 

If you should happen to place it in a north-facing or west-facing room, consider placing a curtain over the window to let some of the light shine through but filter most of it. You could also place it in a room that receives light and place it next to the window. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion in Light

We made the mistake of placing it in a north-facing window with a sheer curtain, and the end result was a singed plant. If it smoked when it was overcooking, we surely would have set off the fire alarm. 

As briefly noted above, the calathea medallion needs indirect sunlight. While it needs to have indirect sunlight for photosynthesis, too much sunlight can cause its leaves to become burnt. A burnt leaf will have brown or yellow spots. Once your plant has marks from sunburn, those leaves will not recover.

You’ll need to remove them. You should know that they won’t affect the other leaves, as long as they have no signs of sun damage. 

2. Watering Needs

We personally struggled to figure out how much water to give these plants when we first started trying to add them to my indoor garden. We researched thoroughly, but in the end, we either over loved or under-loved the plant, or a combination of both.

One week we would overwater it, and the following we would try to compensate by under watering it. After calling “CTB” a medical acronym that means cease to breathe, on two calatheas because of water issues, I’ve found the ideal schedule. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion

Essentially, you should keep the soil for your plant moist. You should never allow it to be soggy. Overwatering can lead to your plant battling fungal problems. For instance, your calathea medallion could develop root rot, which is a fungal infection that attacks the roots of your plant.

The fungal infections that lead to root rot include Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora, or Fusarium. As the roots rot, they won’t be able to carry nutrients to the rest of the plant. 

Additionally, overwatering your calathea medallion could lead to fungal gnats. These pests look similar to mosquitoes. Their larvae consume fungus, so if your plant develops a fungus, they’ll lay their eggs so they have food once they hatch. The adults tend to live off of any decaying matter in the soil. 

You should develop a watering schedule for your plant. You’ll notice that it needs water every one to two weeks. Make sure you allow it to dry before you water it again, or you’ll risk overwatering it and the plant health issues associated with too much water.

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion Bush

To determine if your plant needs water, check the top layer of soil. It doesn’t need to be watered until the first inch of soil is dry. Keep in mind that how much you water it will change with the seasons for this reason. Your plant may require more water during the summer months and less water during the winter ones.

Ideally, your plant will grow best if you use distilled water. You can buy it in stores or distill your own by boiling water and letting it cool down to room temperature. If you’d prefer, you can use tap water, but you should let it sit out overnight after you pour it.

The fluoride in your water is dangerous for the plant. Watering with fluoridated water once or twice by mistake won’t harm your plant, but it will if you continuously do it.

Another option for watering your plant is with rainwater. 

3. Pruning

We will have to say that I’ve learned the hard way not to over-prune a plant. In fact, when you over-prune your plant, you’re giving it more than a bad haircut. The first plant we ever owned, we over-pruned. It then didn’t have enough leaves to produce food for the rest of the plant.

And you know what that means? You’ll find yourself calling a TOD (time of death) in the near future. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion Leaf

There isn’t a regular pruning schedule you need to adhere to when you have a calathea medallion. Instead, you should look for signs it needs to be pruned. For example, if you notice your plant is wilting a bit, cut it back slightly.

Focus on getting rid of the wilting leaves rather than the healthy ones. 

Additionally, if you have burnt, diseased, decayed, or otherwise damaged leaves, cut them off. Make sure you use a sharp pair of shears or scissors to cut off the leaves. If not, you could risk damaging the plant. 

4. Fertilizing

Preferably, you should feed your houseplant fertilizer with iron every month during the growing season. That means you should fertilize once every four weeks from the start of spring to the end of summer. Your plant could also benefit from fertilizer once a month during the fall.

However, once winter starts, you should forgo the fertilizer completely because your plant won’t grow during this time. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion on The Corner

5. Repotting

We can’t say we have experience not repotting a calathea medallion when it is needed. But we can tell you about my experience with a potted cat palm. We let it become root-bound.

Within one year, the plant dwindled to nothing as it continuously pruned off all the dead.

When there was barely anything left to the plant, we got the bright idea to check its root situation, only to find it had pot-shaped roots. We cut away what we could, but the prognosis was poor at that point. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion in Pot

To make a long story short, you need to repot your plant as it’s outgrowing its pot. Fortunately, the calathea medallion isn’t a fast-growing plant. Therefore, you should only need to repot it once a year or every two years.

Not only will this ensure it has enough room to grow, but you’re also replenishing the soil to ensure it receives enough nutrients. Each time you increase your pot’s size, you should make sure it’s no larger than two inches larger in diameter than the current pot. 

My Calathea Leaves Are Dying, What Should We Do?

This is a frustrating issue no matter what type of plant you have. The last thing you want to do is kill something you spent money and time on. However, sometimes, it’s inevitable, as noted by some of my major plant failures.

Fortunately, sometimes, if you intervene early enough, you can stop the problem and get your plant healthy again. It’s important, though, to know what the problem is so you can provide it with the proper care. 

1. Leaves Are Falling Off

Frequently, the leaves of your plant will fall off if the plant doesn’t have enough humidity. You can intervene by creating a more humid environment. While it won’t bring back those leaves that have already fallen, it will prevent any more from falling off and help your plant to continue to thrive. 

calathea medallion care
Leaf

To create a more humid environment, add a humidifier. Don’t try to compensate for a humidity problem by watering the plant more. This won’t correct an issue with a humidity problem and may cause damage to the plant. 

2. Leaves Are Curling

Curling leaves aren’t as easy of a problem to solve as leaves that are falling off. It’s a sign of a variety of problems, and you’ll need to investigate, think critically, and possibly use trial and error to try to correct the problem.

The reasons why your leaves are curling could include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Overwatering
  • Under-watering
  • Pests
  • Too much sunlight 
  • Not enough sunlight
calathea medallion care
Leafs

To determine the cause, start by checking the soil for signs of fungus. Inspect your leaves. Examine both the leaves and soil for pests. If you can’t find any noticeable signs of an infection or pests, consider that you may have the plant in a place where it’s not getting enough sunlight, or you could be overwatering your plant.

If you’re unsure of what you’re doing wrong, research more about the plant. Read above to see how much sunlight is most suitable and what watering schedule works the best for this plant species. 

3. Leaves Are Yellowish 

If your leaves are yellowing, it’s a classic sign that your plant is receiving too much water. At this point, you should let your plant dry out completely. As previously mentioned, the soil should be dry about one-inch down.

You can figure this out by pushing your finger into the soil about one-inch down. 

calathea medallion care
Calathea Medallion

Until your plant dries out completely, don’t water it again. Additionally, you shouldn’t move the plant into the sunlight to dry it out. You risk burning the plant by giving it too much sunlight


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Safe for Cats, Dogs and Humans?

Although this question doesn’t pertain to caring for the plant, it’s important to know if you have kids or pets. We hate to admit this as a pet parent, and a plant parent who’s learned by trial and error, that we had a moment where my cat ate a peace lily.

The cat was our new edition, and we had never had a cat eat a plant before. We rushed to search if she’d be okay, and soon found that she would be fine. We even called Poison Control to ensure. That’s why we find it necessary to include this section in every piece we write about plants. 

Fortunately, these plants are non-toxic to both dogs and cats, as noted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more commonly known as the ASPCA. Moreover, if you should happen to live in an area where you can grow this plant outside, it’s also safe for horses. 

The calathea medallion can help purify your indoor air. And you shouldn’t have much trouble keeping it alive. However, there are certain factors you need to consider, such as how much light it receives and how much water you give it.

Even the moisture in your home plays a role in whether your plant survives. 

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