Most houseplant enthusiasts are familiar with calatheas, as they’re relatively easy to care for, produce gorgeous foliage, and work well in a variety of settings. Another excellent thing about calatheas is that there are many varieties available, including the white star or whitestar calathea.
White star calatheas sport beautifully variegated leaves, striped in white and dark green with a pink hue. This plant variety does require some specific care, but learning about the plant’s needs can ensure it stays happy, healthy, and full.
- Scientific name and common names: Goeppertia majestica, also known as Calathea majestica, white star calathea, and whitestar calathea.
- Origin: Native to the Brazilian rainforest
- Indoor or Outdoor plant: Indoor, except in warm climates
- Height and Structure: Four to 5 feet tall with long, broad leaves
- Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Flower Color: Rare orange or pink flowers
Since calathea prefer a climate that remains stable year-round, and they’re usually an indoor plant, a specific planting time isn’t strictly necessary. However, it’s best to repot in the spring whenever possible.
Calathea plants, no matter the variety, need bright, filtered sunlight, which mimics the bright light that would filter through the upper canopy leaves and down to the plant in the jungle. To recreate this in the home, choose a space that receives filtered sunlight for most of the day.
You can easily filter sunlight by moving the plant farther away from the window or using a curtain or drape to block a bit of light. Placing other plants between the window and your calathea is also a good way to filter sunlight.
Some direct sunlight, such as morning sun, won’t harm your white star calathea, and it can actually be beneficial for the plant.
The white star calathea requires soil that stays moist but not damp, so balance is key. Because of this, it’s often best to create your own soil mixture. Start with quality garden soil and mix in perlite and orchid bark. Perlite helps to balance soil moisture, allowing it to retain enough water without becoming soggy. Orchid bark provides plenty of aeration, which helps to prevent root rot.
If you live in a particularly dry climate, you can mix in a bit of sphagnum moss or peat. Placed near the roots of the plant, these substrates help to hold on to moisture for longer.
All calathea varieties, including the white star, tend to grow slowly. Most reach their full size after about two years, although some will grow faster when given optimum light and water conditions. White star calatheas are much larger than most calatheas, sometimes growing to a height double that of other varieties, so they make take more time to reach their full size.
White star calatheas require soil that remains damp but not wet. When the top of the soil in the pot is dry, it’s most likely time to water again. Ensure that the soil drains well in order to prevent overwatering. Exactly how often you’ll need to water will depend on the plant, pot type, and climate.
White star calatheas require very little to no fertilizer. If you feel that the plant needs extra nutrients, however, a diluted or slow-release fertilizer is best. Fertilizer can be applied as often as every three weeks, although less frequent fertilization is often best. Take care to avoid fertilizing during the winter months.
White star calathea are tropical plants, so they appreciate high humidity. A humidity of at least 50 to 60% is crucial for a healthy plant. If you live in a dry climate, you can keep your calathea in the bathroom. A pebble tray, filled with water and placed under the plant, can also help to increase humidity.
White star calatheas, like all calathea varieties, require very little pruning. Simply trim away any dead or yellowing leaves to keep the plant healthy. You can also periodically wipe the leaves of the plant with a damp cloth to remove any dust.
White star calathea plants should be repotted periodically, whenever they outgrow their current pot. In general, white star calathea roots don’t grow too much, and these roots are especially prone to breaking, so it’s important to only repot when the plant has outgrown its current pot or has become rootbound. Exactly how often they should be repotted will depend on the plant’s growth and the size of the current pot. This varies from plant to plant, but you may only need to repot every couple of years.
Even if your new white star calathea seems too big for its pot when you first bring it home, don’t repot right away. Moving from place to place can be stressful for a plant, and repotting can stress the plant even more. Instead, wait two to four weeks before carefully repotting the plant.
When you do repot your plant, choose a pot that has a diameter about 1 to 2 inches larger than the old pot. This gives the plant plenty of room to grow. What type of pot depends largely on your soil mixture and climate. Glazed or plastic pots drain more slowly, while clay pots help water evaporate quickly. Whichever pot you choose should have plenty of drainage at the bottom.
The best way to propagate a white star calathea is by dividing the plant at the roots. This is best done during repotting. Carefully separate the roots. There will often be a natural division in the roots that you can follow to separate the new plants. Then repot each plant separately.
Unlike many other houseplants, calatheas cannot be propagated through cuttings.
Because it prefers damp conditions, white star calathea is prone to root rot. Ensuring the plant has proper drainage and isn’t overwatered can help avoid this. Fungal issues are also common and are usually caused by overwatering, frequent misting, or an overly high humidity level.
White star calatheas aren’t usually prone to many pests, but an occasional neem oil spray can clear out any lingering bugs.
White star calathea is one of the most sought-after calathea plants thanks to its unique coloring, but there are several other calathea varieties that also offer vibrant foliage. Calathea makoyana, for example, has leaves striped in white, dark green, and a deep purple-red. Calathea crocata is one of the few calathea varieties that routinely blooms. Calathea rufibarba displays large leaves with ruffled edges.
Since white star calatheas are generally indoor plants, they can be kept by themselves or with any other houseplants. Remember that these plants can grow to several feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, so allow for plenty of space.
White star calatheas often look good when grouped with other calathea varieties or other leafy plants, such as caladiums.
White star calatheas are non-toxic to people.
Calatheas are one of the most popular house plants because they’re non-toxic and pet-friendly. This includes white star calatheas, which are non-toxic to animals, including dogs and cats.