Calathea Beauty Star is a stunning houseplant with vivid, patterned dark green leaves. This plant is a cultivar of Calathea Odorata, a large group of plants with striped leaves in the Calathea genus originating from tropical rainforests of the Amazon region.
The name of the genus is derived from the Greek word for basket since the local population still uses Calathea plant leaves to wrap food and make handy bags and baskets. The genus belongs to the Marantaceae family, and plants from this group are known for folding leaves at dusk, so they are often called prayer plants.
What Is a Calathea Beauty Star
Calathea Beauty Star is a herbaceous perennial of erect shrubby growth that reaches up to 2 feet in height and the same width. Its leaves are shiny, smooth, oval elongated with accentuated tips.
The base color of the leaf is a dark green, but it is interspersed with light green or silvery lines that follow the lateral nerve of the leaf and create a fishbone or feather-like pattern.
Each leaf can grow up to 4 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. The back of the foliage, which is noticeable when the plant folds its leaves, is intensely purple in color.
Calathea Beauty Star Care
Although called ‘beauty star,’ this Calathea is not a spoiled diva with strange requirements that are difficult to meet. On the contrary, caring for this gorgeous species is not much different from caring for any other indoor plant from the tropical jungle.
However, some environmental conditions still need to be adapted to the beauty star Calathea needs. Fortunately, this is not difficult to meet.
– Light Requirements
In nature, Calatheas grow at the foot of high tropical vegetation beyond the reach of direct sunlight. Although a cultivar, the Calathea Beauty Star has retained the basic needs of its relatives growing in the wild. It thrives best if you provide it with a soft, diffused light.
The ideal position is the north or east window. In such places, the plant will get enough light without being exposed to too much sun.
West or south windows are a possible choice if the plant is at least three or four feet away so that the sun at its zenith cannot reach it. This sophisticated plant does not like the bright sun.
On the other hand, if the plant is too far from the light source, its leaves will lose color intensity, and the pattern will become less pronounced. The plant does not grow evenly because the leaves extend in the direction of light and lose their full rounded shape. Therefore, if you want to satisfy Calathea light needs, you should try to place it in a moderately lit position without both deep shades or too much sun.
Additionally, the amount of light significantly affects the Calathea Beauty Star growth rate. Specimens in too deep shade are lower, with fewer leaves that do not reach their maximum size.
– Water Requirements
Proper watering is one of the fundamental conditions for a healthy appearance and lush growth of the star among the Calathea plants. It comes from a humid climate and loves moisture, but it cannot cope with a too-soaked substrate. Its root is sensitive and prone to rot, so do not confuse moist and wet conditions.
You should water your Calathea Beauty Star abundantly but always allow the substrate to dry between watering. If you are not sure if the plant is thirsty, feel the surface of the substrate with your fingers. Only when it is dry to a depth of one inch, water the plant again.
After watering, wait about ten minutes for the excess water to accumulate in the tray and empty it.
Generally, plants in a 6-inch diameter pot should be watered once a week from spring to autumn and every ten days in winter.
After all, the plant itself will help you assess whether you water it often enough: if its leaves begin to bend inwards or its tips are dry, it is dehydrated, so increase watering.
Use soft water
Since it comes from untouched areas beyond the influence of modern civilization, Calathea is not accustomed to chemically treated tap water. Such water contains chlorine and other elements that cannot be found in the composition of natural water.
Therefore, If you want a healthy plant, you should water it with soft, stagnant water. It means that you should pour water into a container, leave it for at least 48 hours for the chlorine to evaporate from it, and only then use it to hydrate the plant.
– Soil Requirements
Calathea Beauty Star grows best in nutritious, airy soil with good drainage. Although it will grow in standard all-purpose potting soil, it will still feel much better if you change its structure a little and adapt to the Calathea needs.
You could add one-third of perlite, sharp sand, orchid bark, or coco coir, which will ensure better permeability of the substrate and prevent long-term water retention. You can also add a handful of compost or peat moss to the mixture, which is rich in organic matter, so it acts as a slow-release fertilizer and provides nutrients over an extended period.
In addition, compost retains moisture and prevents the soil from drying out, which is very important for this plant. Very dry as well as heavily soaked substrate have an equally adverse effect on its growth.
Another alternative that meets the needs of this plant is a ready-made mixture for African violets, which you can find in well-equipped gardens. An additional benefit is the slightly acidic reaction of such a mixture. Namely, Calathea Beauty Star can grow in neutral soil with a pH of 6.6. Still, it prefers values more according to the spectrum of acidic soil, which is why the mentioned mixture is perfect for growing Calathea Beauty Star.
This tropical beauty requires a warm environment protected from low temperatures, large temperature oscillations, drafts, or sudden temperature changes. Therefore, provide it with a temperature in the range of 65 to 85 F throughout the year.
In winter, do not expose it to temperatures below 60 F because, in such conditions, the leaves begin to twist, and they get yellow and wither at a temperature of 50 F.
In the northern hemisphere, Calathea Beauty Star thrives as a typical houseplant. It means that you can take it outside in the summer, but it is best to return it to the house in early September when the difference between day and night temperatures exceeds 10 degrees.
– Calathea Beauty Star Fertilizer
Intake and amount of additional nutrients depend on the season and composition of the mixture in which the plant grows. If you add compost to the blend when planting, it will provide the necessary support for the proper development of the plant during one growing season.
Consequently, you do not need to supplement such a plant since the accumulation of chemical elements over the amount that the plant can absorb leads to damage to the root system.
If you have planted your beauty star Calathea on a substrate that does not contain organic nutrients, you can feed it once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10:10:10. As we have already mentioned, the plant is sensitive to pre-fertilization, and it is best to dilute the product to half of the stated concentration.
And, of course, you could apply top dressing from the end of March to the end of October, at a time when the plant is growing intensively. In the second part of the year, when the plant is dormant or growing much less, there is no need for additional fertilizing.
All tropical plants grow in an environment where frequent rainfall and constant evaporation of lush surrounding vegetation create a high humidity environment. Being adapted to such conditions, indoor plants from these areas are sometimes challenging to grow in zones with a completely different atmosphere.
A humidity level of 30 percent, customary for regions outside the tropics, is much beyond their needs since most require a humidity level of at least 50 percent. Calathea Beauty Star is such a plant! A lack of moisture in the air causes drying of the leaf tips and slows down its growth. It is to say that you need to take some measures to create an environment in which the plant will not suffer!
The most common way to achieve this is to spray the leaves with lukewarm stagnant water. However, when it comes to this plant, this method is better to avoid. Folding the leaves at night can trap tiny water droplets in the grooves of the base of the leaves, which might lead to the development of fungal and bacterial diseases. Calathea Beauty Star prefers moisture in the air around it more than wet leaves.
That is why a humidifier is an easy way to achieve this. If you do not have a humidifier, you can place the plant on a pebble tray filled with water that will gradually evaporate and create more favorable conditions.
Also, if you group several plants in one part of the space, you will imitate conditions similar to those in nature where different plants grow side by side, helping each other.
– Potting and Repotting
When you get a Calathea Beauty Star from a flower shop or garden center, it usually comes planted in a small container. Therefore you might think the container is too small and should be replaced with a larger one. Yet, it is better to give up on that idea.
First, a Calathea Beauty Star grows better if the root does not have much space. Therefore, wait for parts of the root ball to start coming out through the drainage holes before moving it to another, larger container.
Second, transplanting is a procedure that is effective only if performed in spring or early summer. It is the time of intensive growth, so worn-out soil or too little space makes normal functions and processes difficult.
Third, the change of environment is already stressful enough for the plant, so it does not need an additional one due to transplanting. When choosing a plant, opt for one that has not already outgrown the pot. Such a plant adapts faster because it does not have to deal with the repotting stress.
Allow your Calathea Beauty Star to adjust to the conditions in your home, and give it the new, one-inch larger pot and new fresh substrate only the following spring.
After that, you could transplant your Calathea every second or third year. Annual transplanting is not effective and often results in stagnation instead of expected vigorous growth.
The best way to propagate a Calathea Beauty Star is by dividing the adult plant when transplanting. The Calathea Beauty Star has a branched rhizome root, and each segment grows its clusters of stems on which the leaves appear. In other words, even specimens with a rich, lush crown are groups of smaller clusters growing from different parts of the root. Therefore, the propagation process is uncomplicated:
- Water the plant abundantly. It will help make it easier to take out the plant from the pot without damaging the root ball.
- Remove the substrate from the roots and rinse it under lukewarm water. Once it is dirtless, you can see the parts from which the clusters grow. It is also a convenient opportunity to inspect the root and remove damaged or crushed parts.
- Divide or cut the root with your hands, sterile knife, or scissors so that each cluster has its part of the root.
- Plant these new Calatheas in prepared pots that you have filled with a 50:50 mixture of potting soil and perlite. The diameter of the container should be one inch wider than the diameter of the roots.
- Water after planting, and place the babies in bright spots without direct sunlight. New leaves will not immediately begin to grow but, in a few weeks, the plant will get over the procedure and begin new growth.
Over-intensive or insufficient watering, lack of moisture in the air, or inadequate lighting are the most common causes of problems you may face when growing this plant. Read below how you will recognize that some of the mentioned factors are not in line with the plant’s needs.
– Brittle, Dehydrated, Brown Tips or Leaf Edges
Brown tips indicate low humidity. Calathea Beauty Star needs moist air, so in the absence of a better solution, you can move the plant to a bathroom or kitchen where the humidity level is increased compared to other rooms. And, do not keep the plant near a radiator or air conditioner exposed to dry, warm air.
– Flabby Yellow Leaves
The problem is a sign that the root of the plant struggles with excess water. This leaf decay is usually the ultimate result of a process that has already taken root.
You may hydrate the plant too often, the substrate is insufficiently drained, or the pot does not have drainage holes, causing soggy soil. If you want to save the plant, you can try the following:
- Cut off the destroyed leaves and take the plant out from the pot.
- Rinse the substrate from the roots,
- Remove the rotten parts,
- Dry the rest of the root with a paper towel and leave it to air dry for a few more hours.
- Transplant the plant into a new substrate and carefully water it with small amounts of water for the next few weeks.
– Necrotic Brown Spots on the Leaves
Brown patches occur when the bright sun shines directly on the delicate Calathea foliage. The solution is simple. Move the plant away from the light source and cut off the burned leaves. Their structure is irreversibly destroyed and cannot be cured.
Lovers of dry air, spider mites are the most common pets that attack a Calathea Beauty Star. They are so small and often impossible to notice. Yet, a reddish net that you may see between the leaves or backs suggests their occupancy.
In addition to spider mites, mealybugs are next on the list of intruders. They are usually tiny and white, feed on the plant sap, leave holes in the leaves and sticky honeydew on which various bacteria later grow and further weaken the plant.
Both are parasitic organisms that destroy the host on which they settle. Therefore, do not hesitate and get rid of them as soon as you see the signs of their presence!
In the fight against pests, spraying the leaves with a neem oil solution or wiping the leaves with a piece of cotton wool soaked in alcohol will help you. If you decide on the latter, be sure to treat the face and back of each leaf.
Furthermore, cut the leaves on which you notice deformations because they will not recover. The goal of the treatment is to protect healthy leaves and allow the growth of new ones.
You can often hear that the Calathea Beauty Star is not a plant for beginners. In reality, it is not the case. It would be better to say that it is not a plant for people who will not pay enough attention to its needs. That is why in this article, we share with you the basic rules for the care of this plant. Hence, here is what you need to pay attention to:
- Constant warm environment from 65 to 85 F
- An increased humidity level of 50 percent or more
- Moderate lighting with lots of indirect suns
- Nourishing very permeable loose soil
- Watering: soft stagnant water at least once a week in summer and every ten days in winter
- Top-dressing: once a month in the warmer part of the year with diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer
- Transplanting: every second or third year into an inch larger pot
If you follow and apply the above-listed tips, you can enjoy this beautiful indoor plant, even without much experience!