Calathea Medallion is a gorgeous houseplant with large emerald leaves and contrasting stripes that can help brighten up your spaces. During the day, the plant’s leaves rise and fall rhythmically, and they fold up like praying hands at night. However, taking care of this plant requires more skills, and here is a detailed guide to get you started.
- Scientific name: Calathea veitchiana
- Common names: Calathea Medallion, Medallion Prayer Plant
- Origin: A native of the tropical areas of South America like Brazil and Ecuador.
- Indoor or Outdoor plant: Popularly used for indoor decoration purposes but grows outside in warm climates.
- Height and Structure: Usually grows to about two to three feet high on maturity, produces leaves five to ten inches wide, but the plant can go up to four feet tall when grown outside.
- Temperature: The plant does well in a warm climate, and the ideal temperature ranges from 65°F (18.33 °C) to 85°F (29.44 °C).
- Flower Color: Although the plant never produces flowers indoors, it has some light green flowers on the inflorescence growing at the base.
Calathea Medallion can grow in pots, containers, or outdoors in various locations, provided that you create the right environment. The beauty of the plant lies in large oval green leaves with some purple undersides. Note that the plant can get fussy if you fail to give it proper care. It’s easy to grow, and if you plant it right, it will thrive with minimal maintenance. If this is your first Calathea, read through the following basic requirements.
Calathea Medallion performs well in a humid and warm region. So the plant can survive outdoors in hardiness zones eight and above, including Texas, Florida, and California, to name a few. These regions receive mild winter, temperate summer, and an extended growing season.
The hot and humid requirements make this a perfect indoor plant. You can only leave the plant outside continuously if you live in a warm region. Don’t keep moving the plants in and out, so if you decide to plant them outside, ensure that you keep them adequately warm in the cold season without shifting them.
There is no strict spacing requirement but only ensure that you leave enough space for the stunning foliage to grow, anything between five and ten inches. If you want to plant a few Calathea Medallions in a single container, leave enough space from one plant to the other. When you grow them so close, they will compete for nutrients and interfere with each other’s growth. The roots also require enough room to grow and thrive.
Naturally, the plants grow at the foot of trees in the tropical forest. So, keep your Calathea Medallion in the shade, a place with medium to low light. When exposed to direct, intense sunlight, the plant will suffer from leaf burns. The morning sun is fine, but don’t expose the plant to harsh afternoon rays.
When placing the plant in a house, look for a space that receives ambient light to keep the leaves vibrant. One perfect area is behind the curtains of east or west-facing windows. You can also place the pot a few meters away from the north-facing windows.
The bathroom and kitchen are perfect places to keep the plant since it thrives in warm and humid areas. If the plant’s leaves begin to fade or turn brown, this indicates excess light, and you may want to move them to a better lac to keep them alive.
Good soil is essential if you want your plant to thrive. Calathea Medallion requires porous, nutritious, and well-draining soil which holds adequate moisture without getting excessively soggy. The ideal combination for this plant is potting, peat ad perlite soil. This mixture retains sufficient moisture and allows the excess to drain.
If you use general pot soil that doesn’t hold a considerable amount of water, adding pebbles at the bottom of your container will help it retain more moisture. You can also add coco coir, orchid bark, vermiculite, and charcoal to the potting soil but avoid too much bark and compost since they can attract fungi.
Nowadays, tropical foliage plants have become very popular, so it’s easy to find ready soil mixes. If you choose to buy the commercially available soils, the best pick for growing Calathea Medallion is the African Violet mix. Check to ensure that you purchase high-quality soil that is fertile enough and drains well. If you receive compacted soil, loosen it up before planting to increase aeration.
Like most low-light plants, Calathea Medallion grows relatively slowly. Their large striking leaves tend to spread out and elongate upwards for up to two feet, then stop. Once they reach maturity, all you need to do is to keep pruning the brown leaves. The plant only blossoms in the wild, so you shouldn’t expect flowers when planted indoors.
You don’t need to stake your Calathea Medallion if you plant it correctly. If the leaves start to droop, this could be a sign of dry soil, overwatering, or dry air. You can resolve this by watering the soil and putting the plant in an adequately humid area. But if you still want to, you can use bamboo stakes to train the stem, but be careful not to damage the roots.
Create a regular watering schedule for your Calathea Medallion to keep the soil evenly moist. Water is essential for this plant, especially at the initial growth stages. But avoid overwatering since excess water can cause root rot or fungus gnats. Insect infestation and roots can quickly kill the plant.
The best way to determine if it’s the right time to water the plant is by testing the soil. Clean your hands, then put your finger an inch deep into the ground. If the soil is moist enough, you don’t have to water but water your plant if dry.
Another thing, it’s best that you use filtered rain or distilled water rather than tap water. Note that the city water may contain chlorine, salt, and other minerals that can burn your plant. For your Calathea Medallion to flourish, ensure that the water gets deep into the root. Also, use warm or room temperature water to avoid damaging the roots.
The size of your plant, season, soil type, and climatic conditions in your home region will determine how frequently you will water your plant. But never leave your Calathea Medallion in very wet soil. Always ensure that the excess flows out through the holes in the container. Water the plant less often during winter, and in summer, you can do it once or thrice every week. If you choose to use the terra cotta pots, the soil usually dries up faster than the plastic pots.
Calathea Medallion requires moderate fertilizer during the growing season, spring, summer, and fall, since the soil contains limited nutrients. Note that the low temperature during the cold season decreases the plant’s nutrition requirement, so you don’t need to fertilize in winter.
The foliage preserving or any other all-purpose fertilizer works well for house plants. Only ensure that it contains enough potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but it’s best to use less than indicated, especially for the houseplant fertilizers. Dilute the fertilizer to ¼ its normal strength since this is a sensitive plant.
Avoid fertilizing your plant immediately after re-potting. Leave it for about four to six weeks since a sudden increase in fertilizer can damage the roots and make it harder for the Calathea Medallion to re-establish itself. If you constantly water your plant from the bottom, ensure that you do it from the top occasionally to wash off the fertilizer and prevent excess mineral buildup that can burn the plant.
If you notice slow growth in your plant or droopy leaves, this could mean under fertilization, and you may want to increase the quantity. You can fertilize once to twice per month. But, if the plant looks unusually long in the active growing season, scale back the fertilizer.
Calathea Medallion thrives in high humidity, so if you want to keep the plant flourishing maintain the humidity level at 50% and above. The broad green leaves help the plant absorb moisture. One way to maintain high humidity is using a spray bottle to mist distilled water in the air around the plant at least once weekly. Or, you can use a humidity pebbles tray then place the plant pot over but ensure that it doesn’t sit directly onto the water. The evaporation from the tray will humidify the air around the plant.
Another tip is to keep the Calathea Medallion close to other house plants. The respiration process may help humidify the air. If you have too many houseplants, the misting process may not be viable. You can use a house humidifier in such a state, especially during winter, to create the perfect humid environment for your plants. If your Calathea Medallion starts to curl or brown, the air is dry, so adjust the humidity.
Most houseplants will thrive at average room temperature. For Calathea Medallion, always keep the temperature between 65°F and 80°F at maximum and a minimum of about 55°F (12°C). Keeping your plants below or above this temperature range can cause damage, and it will eventually die. So if you grow Calathea Medallions on your outdoor patio, remember to bring them in or cover them up when the temperature dips or gets too high.
Keep this plant away from the radiator since the heat can scorch the leaves. Calathea Medallion doesn’t like cold drafts, so don’t place it near the air conditioning unit. The plant may also die if you expose it to sudden temperature fluctuations. Curling is an indication of the wrong temperature, so you should check and adjust this.
Mulching will help keep the plant’s base adequately warm. You can use shredded bark or moss, which helps maintain the proper soil moisture and promote healthy growth.
Calathea Medallion is an easy-to-care plant that requires occasional pruning to remove the brown and yellow leaves. You can use a sharp knife, sterilized scissors, or pruning shears to trim the damaged leaves off the steam and allow new growth. If you prefer slender stems, you can also trim them to your desired size and ensure that you cut them at a 45 degrees angle. Also, if you want to maintain your plants in the same pot at a similar size, trim the roots.
For Calathea Medallion, you should plant it in a plastic pot or one made from less porous materials. This plant also requires re-potting at least once a year. Your plant may still do well in the same container for about two years, but it needs a change beyond this. A significant sign that it’s time to re-pot is once the roots begin to grow above the soil or protrude from the pot’s drainage holes.
The best time to re-pot your Calathea Medallion is at the beginning of the growing season, from spring to mid-summer. If you want the pant to grow wider, get a pot two inches wider than your current one, but if you want it to retain its size, use the same container. Note that moving the plant to an oversized pot increases the risk of overwatering.
During re-potting, take the plant out of the container gently, wash its roots to remove excess soil, check for signs of roots rot, and trim such parts. Fill the new pot with fresh soil, then put it in your plant at the same height as the previous container. Add porous potting mixture, water, and put the plant back in place.
If you want to retain the same container, empty the soil, wash it thoroughly before refilling it with fresh soil. Repotting gives your plant more room for growth and eliminates soil fungal problems. Your plant may take two to four weeks to adjust to the new environment, so keep a close watch.
You can propagate the Calathea Medallion by dividing the roots in the early growing season. Propagating this plant by seeds or cutting is very unsuccessful. So, carefully take out the plant with the rhizomes from the container. Gently untangle the roots with your hands and isolate the whole plant with stems and leaves intact. Divide or cut the rhizomes with a sterile knife and then replant the newly cut plants in fresh soil using a similar mixture as the mother plants. Water the plant and place it in an appropriate position. Always choose a healthy and fully grown plant for propagation.
Calathea Medallion growth conditions attract aphids, spider mites, thrips, and mealybugs. These pests cause the leaves to lose their natural brightness. Once you receive the plant, inspect it and if you see signs of infestation, isolate it for some weeks to prevent spreading pests to other house plants.
You can wipe the foliage with a damp cloth or spray the plant with water to get rid of the bugs. Alternatively, use horticultural oils, organic or low toxic pesticides. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the right pesticide proportions to keep your plant healthy. The most common Calathea Medallion disease is fungal infestation due to overwatering. In this case, scrape off the molds and stop watering until the soil dries off to kill the fungus.
Calathea Medallion belongs to the prayer plant, Marantaceae family, Calathea genius, and roseopicta species. The Calathea has over 200 plants species with decorative leaves and beautiful inflorescence. Some popular plant types in this family include:
- Calathea ornata (Pinstripe calathea)
- Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake calathea)
- Calathea roseopicta ‘Dottie’ (Calathea Dottie)
- Calathea zebrine (Zebra plant)
You can plant Calathea Medallion together with other Calathea, and it pairs well with most tropical plants. When neighboring them with other plants, leave enough space for the long leaves to extend and allow air circulation. Before you put any plants near your Calathea Medallion, inspect them for pests. Remember that harmful critters can quickly spread through your plants.
Calathea Medallion is not a toxic plant. It doesn’t harm humans, cat dogs, or other plants species planted nearby. But the plant is a bit tasty, so it’s a good idea that you keep it away from your pets. Although you can safely grow the plant in a house with pets and small kids, ingesting houseplants is never a good idea, so watch your toddler.
If you are looking for a plant addition for your indoor space, you may want to consider the Calathea Medallion. The boldly patterned foliage creates breathtaking views that can bring life to any gloomy corner of your house. Calathea Medallion not only purifies the air in your home but also acts as a decor masterpiece. The plant is relatively easy to maintain, but it requires a little bit more attention. The above guide should help you plant and keep your Calathea Medallion healthy for years to come.