Calathea Makoyana is one of the most beautiful varieties of Calathea you can add to your collection with its dazzling display of leaf colors and patterns.
It enjoys great popularity among houseplant lovers and collectors, and although it can be a bit high maintenance, it’s not as difficult for beginners as you may think.
- What Is a Calathea Makoyana?
- Calathea Makoyana Care
What Is a Calathea Makoyana?
Calathea Makoyana is a species of tropical evergreen plant native to the rainforests of Brazil. Known to botanists as Calathea Peacock or Goeppertia Makoyana, it belongs to the Marantaceae family, a group of houseplants commonly known as ‘prayer plants.’
Calathea Makoyana Care
Calatheas have a reputation for being very high-maintenance plants. Luckily, we’ve been growing them for many years and can assure you that they’re not as fussy as they seem. Essentially, they need four things to be happy:
- Bright indirect light
- High humidity
- Distilled or rainwater
- Well-draining soils
Now let us find out how to provide your peacock plant with the right growing conditions and why they are so important to know. Here’s everything you need to know about how to care for a Calathea Makoyana:
The Calathea watering requirement is to keep the soil moist but not soaked. This plant has a very shallow and delicate root system, and it’s sensitive to drought as well as overwatering.
Our advice is to wait until the soil feels dry to a depth of one inch, then give the plant a good soak. Use the soak and drain method to ensure that water reaches all the roots and that the soil is evenly moist.
It’s best if you avoid using tap water for your Calathea Makoyana. Hard water is common in many homes, and even if your home has soft water, it will still contain chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine.
These chemicals build up in the foliage, and your Calathea will soon develop brown leaf edges and crispy tips. We recommend using either distilled water, rainwater, or even water from your aquarium to keep it happy.
Calathea Makoyana grows best in bright indirect light. A room with eastern or western exposure would be perfect for this plant. Make sure to position it at least two feet away from the window, or use sheer curtains to filter out the intense sunlight. The plant’s leaves can burn very easily when exposed to full sun, resulting in brown scorch marks.
The Peacock Calathea is often recommended for homes with low light. However, there’s a difference between a shaded spot in your home and the shaded understory of a Brazilian rainforest.
Even in its natural habitat, the plant will receive occasional dappled sunlight throughout the day. This is why we recommend that you never grow Calathea Makoyana indoors in full shade.
Providing your Calathea with bright indirect light will allow the leaves to keep their striking patterns and colors and result in fuller, bushy growth. A Calathea grown in bright indirect light not only looks better, but it’s also healthier and less likely to suffer from pests and diseases.
Calathea Makoyana is not too pretentious when it comes to the type of soil you use, but it will need a potting mix with good drainage. The easiest potting media you can make for your peacock plant is combining two parts universal peat-based soil and one part perlite or pumice.
This mix will retain moisture without staying waterlogged, allow air circulation to the roots, and provide the plant with the base of nutrients needed for healthy growth.
The ideal temperature range for growing Calathea Makoyana indoors is between 64 and 80 F (18 to 27 C). This tropical plant does not tolerate frost and will struggle to grow in temperatures below 60 F (16 C).
Also, the peacock plant is very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, which can cause the foliage to wilt. We recommend keeping it away from any hot or cold drafts, such as windows and doors, heating vents, or air conditioning units.
You can grow Calathea Makoyana outdoors if you live in USDA hardiness zones 10a and 11. If you plan to grow it in your garden, pick a spot where it’s sheltered from any direct sunlight.
Trees or large shrubs will protect it from the intense sun and heat and provide growing conditions similar to those in its native habitat. In other USDA hardiness zones, Calatheas are better suited for indoor cultivation rather than outdoor gardening.
Providing your Calathea Makoyana with high humidity is crucial if you want to keep the plant healthy. On average, this plant grows best in humidity levels of at least 60 percent. If your home is too dry, you will notice that the leaves begin to curl or develop crispy edges. Also, low humidity levels increase the risk of spider mites infestations, which this plant is very susceptible to.
To meet the Calathea humidity needs, we recommend placing it next to a humidifier. This is the easiest way to reach that 60 percent sweet spot that allows it to thrive. Other solutions to boost moisture are placing the Peacock Calathea on top of a pebble tray, grouping it with other humidity-loving plants, or keeping it in a moist room, such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Calathea peacock also benefits from daily misting. Although misting alone won’t help raise humidity by a considerable amount, it keeps the foliage clean and healthy and deters pests such as spider mites. If you plan to mist your Calathea, always use distilled or rainwater, and make sure that the room is well ventilated but not drafty.
Calathea Makoyana benefits from regular fertilizer applications throughout its growing season, from early spring until early autumn. A balanced, liquid fertilizer will do the job nicely.
For monthly applications, we recommend diluting it to half the strength or a quarter of the strength if you’re feeding the plant twice a month. You don’t need to fertilize Calatheas in winter.
The Peacock Calathea can be very sensitive to fertilizer salts building up in the soil, which can cause fertilizer burn and brown, crispy leaf tips. Avoid overfeeding it, and remember to regularly flush the soil.
Once a month, during the week when you’re not fertilizing the plant, fill a one-liter bottle with distilled water and gently pour it over the soil. This will wash away any excess salts and keep the roots healthy.
– Pruning and Maintenance
The Peacock Calathea doesn’t typically require pruning. Now and then, you will need to remove some of the old, yellowing leaves from the bottom of the plant. Calathea Makoyana has a bushy growth habit by nature, and pruning it won’t encourage fuller growth. Remember to constantly sanitize your tools with rubbing alcohol before pruning your plant.
Once a week, we recommend wiping the leaves of your Calathea Makoyana with a damp cloth. This method will remove any dust building up on the foliage and restore its natural shine.
When cleaning the leaves of your Calathea, always check their underside as well. This plant can easily suffer from pest infestations, and the sooner you spot them, the sooner you can take action. You can also spray the leaves with a neem oil solution once a month as a prevention method.
Calathea Makoyana has a medium growth rate and only needs to be repotted once every two or three years. Its shallow root system takes a long time to fill up the pot, and the plant can suffer if it’s disturbed too often.
If you’re not sure if your Calathea Peacock needs repotting, check the underside of the pot. Once you see roots coming out of the drainage hole, you can transplant it to a pot that’s one size larger.
The best time to repot Calathea Makoyana is in spring or early summer. To minimize damage to the roots, water the plant one or two days in advance. Take the plant out of the old pot and avoid disturbing the root ball too much.
Then, simply plant it in its new container, in a well-draining soil mix. Plastic is the best pot material for Calatheas, as it prevents the soil from drying out too quickly.
You can propagate your Calathea Makoyana through plant division. Like all species of prayer plants, it has rhizomatous roots with bulb-like nodules, which produce new clusters of stems and leaves throughout the year. Once these clusters are big enough, they can be separated from the mother plant.
Keep in mind that Calathea Makoyana cannot be propagated through leaf cuttings. The stems of the plant do not have growth nodes, and without the right type of tissue to form roots, the cutting will eventually die.
Calatheas can also be propagated through seeds; however, the germination process is very long and labor-intensive. For an indoor gardener, plant division is the best way to propagate your Peacock Calathea.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to propagating Calathea Makoyana:
- Water the plant one or two days before you decide to propagate. This will loosen the soil and reduce damage to the roots.
- Take the plant out of the pot and, using your fingers, gently separate the clusters of stems and leaves into smaller bundles. Each bundle should have at least two or three leaves and healthy roots to become successfully established.
- Fill a pot with a well-draining soil mix, put the divided plant in the middle, cover the roots with soil, and give the plant a light watering.
- To encourage the new plants to become established, we recommend covering the pot with a transparent plastic sheet or a clear plastic container. This will help retain moisture and reduce the chances of transplant shock. After two or three weeks, you can remove the cover and care for your new Calathea as normal.
Calathea Makoyana is not as sensitive to pests and diseases as other species of prayer plants. However, it can still give you a bit of trouble, especially if you’re a beginner gardener. Most problems are caused by growing it in incorrect conditions.
As long as you tick all the boxes and give it the right amount of light, humidity, water, and nutrients, the plant should be healthy.
Here are the most common signs that your peacock plant is struggling.
– Yellowing Leaves
Yellowing leaves on your Calathea Makoyana are a typical symptom of overwatering or poorly draining soil. Although this tropical plant enjoys moist soils, it can suffer if the potting soil is constantly soaked.
Poor drainage will also result in fungal problems for the roots, such as root rot. Always check the soil with your finger before watering it, and allow the substrate to dry out to a depth of one inch.
– Crispy Leaf Tips
If you notice that the tips of your Calathea Makoyana leaves are turning yellow and begin to dry out, this usually indicates that the water you’re using is too hard. Also, it could be a sign of fertilizer salts building up in the soil.
Over time, these yellowing, crispy sections will spread out to the rest of the leaf. We recommend watering the peacock plant with distilled or rainwater and flushing the soil once a month if you’re using fertilizers.
– Brown Leaf Edges
If your Calathea Makoyana is growing in a room that’s too dry, you’ll notice that the leaves will start to develop brown, dry edges. The ideal humidity level for the peacock plant is at least 60 percent. Anything below that, and the edges of the leaves will begin to dry out.
Brown leaf edges are also a sign of sunburn. Make sure that your peacock plant is not sitting in direct sun, as this will burn its delicate foliage.
– Curling Leaves
Calathea Makoyana’s leaves are curling for several reasons. It may mean that they are placed in low humidity, too much sunlight, too much heat, sudden temperature changes, too much fertilizer, not enough water, or even pests. Check all of the growing conditions you’re providing it with, and make changes as needed.
– Spider Mites
Anyone who’s ever grown a Calathea will tell you that, at some point, these plants will attract spider mites. Prayer plants are notoriously susceptible to these pests, which form web-covered colonies on the undersides of the leaves. Luckily, spider mites are not that difficult to deal with.
Start by preparing a solution of four parts distilled water and one part of isopropyl alcohol. Wipe the leaves with this solution, then spray it on the plant once five to seven days, for a month.
– Is Calathea Makoyana a Prayer Plant?
Yes. Like all prayer plants, the Peacock Calathea will lift its leaves during the night and lower them back down during the day, a process called nyctinasty. While the leaves are lifted in ‘prayer,’ they will also display their pink or purple-tinted underside, revealing another layer of beauty in this plant.
– What Is Calathea Makoyana’s Main Feature?
The main feature of the Calathea Makoyana is its leaf foliage. This gorgeous mosaic of patterns looks very similar to the tail feathers of a peacock or even the stained glass windows of a cathedral. This is where its common names, the peacock plant or cathedral windows plant, come from.
– How Big Does Calathea Makoyana Grow?
Calathea Makoyana grows up to two feet (60 centimeters) and maintains a bushy, contained shape when grown indoors.
The oval-shaped leaves can grow up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in length, and display a feather-like pattern, with dark green bands popping out from a vivid green background and a network of very fine dark green veins.
– Is Calathea Makoyana Poisonous?
No. Calathea Makoyana is not toxic to cats and dogs, making it a perfect plant for a pet-friendly home.
– When Do You Propagate Calathea Makoyana?
Calathea Makoyana should be propagated in spring or early summer. Our advice is to propagate it the same year as repotting it. The plant doesn’t like having its roots disturbed, so if you repot it and then take it out of the pot a few months later to propagate, it may go into transplant shock.
Let’s do a quick recap of what you need to know about Calathea Makoyana or the peacock plant:
- Calathea Makoyana is a species of prayer plant native to Brazil, with leaves that resemble the feathers of a peacock.
- It is a small, bushy plant and typically grows to a height of two feet.
- Caring for it can be a bit tricky for beginners. To keep it happy, provide it with bright indirect light, the humidity of at least 60 percent, moist but well-draining soils, and distilled or rainwater.
- The plant is not toxic to humans or pets.
Calathea Makoyana may not be easy to grow, but with the proper care guide, it is a highly rewarding plant to have in any home.
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