Everything You Need to Know About Calathea Medallion
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Are you looking to grow your houseplant collection? If so, the Calathea Medallion (also commonly known as Calathea veitchiana) will be a perfect addition to your home if you don't already have one. Belonging to the prayer plant family, the Calathea Medallion is perhaps one of the most beautiful creations you can house inside. It’s no wonder why it's a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts.
The Calathea Medallion has a graceful appearance, similar to other Calathea varieties, such as the Calathea ornata (or pinstripe plant) and Calathea roseopicta (or rose painted Calathea). Most Calathea leaves have the incredible ability to open during the day and fold up as if in prayer at night, hence the prayer plant nickname.
Unlike other tropical plants, the Calathea Medallion might be challenging to grow and keep alive as a houseplant. It needs more perseverance and attention than average indoor plants do. For example, plants are picky about humidity levels and water quality, and they are commonly over-fertilized.
If you're a novice plant parent, taking care of the Calathea Medallion might be hard work. Thus, before adding it to your collection of plants, it might be best to equip yourself with its care requirements. Luckily for you, there are several tips we highlighted in this care guide—discover what they are by reading on.
Quick Calathea Medallion Care Guide
USDA Hardiness Zones
Identifying Calathea Medallion
Calathea varieties are part of the Marantaceae family, commonly known as the prayer plant or arrowroot family. Within the Calathea genus, there are about 200 different species of Calathea plants, and all of them are strikingly pretty. Most Calathea plants don't grow larger than about 2ft wide and 2ft tall indoors, so they're commonly grown in homes as part of indoor plant collections and also as decorations for indoor business offices.
It's hard to pick a favorite among the varieties of Calathea plants, but the Calathea Medallion is a great choice to add to your houseplant collection. Its large oval-shaped green leaves with purple color undersides are gorgeous and can brighten up any indoor space. A single beautiful leaf opens at the end of a long, thin stem.
The brilliantly patterned leaves fold up slightly at night, similar to prayer plants. When the leaves fold up, they reveal their deep burgundy color.
How to Propagate and Plant Calathea Medallions
Whether you are growing a Calathea Medallion indoors or outside, it’s important to know how to propagate and plant a new plant. Follow these steps for the best results.
Step 1: Choose the Ideal Pot for Calathea Medallion
The type of pot you have your Calathea Medallion plant in plays a crucial role, especially in your watering routine. Ceramic and terracotta pots are generally the top choices for successfully growing a Calathea Medallion.
Such types of pots allow better aeration and drainage of the soil. Their porous nature allows better air and water movement through the container walls and the potting soil. Please make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom.
Step 2: Choose and Prepare High-Quality Potting Soil
Moisture is significant to the growth of Calathea Medallion plants, but at the same time you don’t want your plants to sit in water and “drown.” Because of this, it’s important to purchase high-quality potting soil that retains moisture yet drains well.
Before planting, improve your potting soil’s drainage by mixing peat moss and perlite or adding coco coir, charcoal, orchid bark. But avoid adding too much compost since it tends to attract fungus gnats.
However, if you're a beginner, purchasing an African violet mix would make it easier to prepare the potting soil to meet your Calathea Medallion’s needs.
Step 3: Cut and Divide the Rhizomes
Dividing the rhizomes, or tuberous roots of a “mother” plant is often the best way to propagate or start a new Calathea Medallion plant. To do this, search for a healthy tuberous root attached to a growing stem of an established Calathea Medallion plant.
Once you find a healthy tuberous root, gently remove the old soil from around the roots. Use a clean, sterilized knife to cut a rhizome from the root system.
Step 4: Replant the Rhizome(s)
Fill a new container with one-half to three-fourths of the potting mix you prepared. Make a hole in the center of the soil large enough to hold the plant’s roots. Then gently set the rhizome into the hole, keeping the stem at the same soil level it was at in the previous pot.
Fill in the hole with potting soil, gently tamping it down to remove any air pockets.
Step 5: Caring for Your Newly Planted Calathea Medallion
After planting, your new cutting needs a little extra care until it recovers from being divided and replanted. Keep the potting soil moist without being soggy, and avoid fertilizing it for a few weeks.
Where to Grow Calathea Medallions
Image Source: GettyImages/Charlotte Bleijenberg
Their Preferred Environment
Native to Brazil, Calathea Medallion plants are generally found in tropical rainforests, growing in the forest understory under trees' canopies. Given this natural habitat, it's not surprising that a warm and humid environment is the best place to plant Calathea Medallions.
The ideal temperature for these tropical plants can be anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid exposing a Calathea Medallion plant to cold drafts and sudden temperature changes for an extended period because these conditions can stress the plant and occasionally cause it to develop Calathea root rot.
Growing Indoor vs. Outdoor
Calathea Medallions are known to grow best in places with high humidity, the right temperatures, and plenty of bright indirect sunlight. Although they are more popular as houseplants because they are sensitive to chilly temperatures and direct sunlight, these plants can also grow outdoors, especially if you live in tropical climates.
One of the drawbacks to growing Calathea Medallion plants indoors, though, is they rarely bloom inside. When grown outdoors, they bloom regularly. While they don't flower indoors, the vivid colors of your Calathea’s leaves will perk up your living space.
Best Location in the Garden
It's worth noting that you can only grow Calathea Medallions in your outdoor garden if you live somewhere with a plant hardiness zone 8 or above. These climatic zones have a long growing season consisting of hot summers and mild winters.
If you're in tropical areas, you can certainly make a Calathea Medallion plant thrive outside in your yard or garden, provided that it has all its needs met. But what's the best location for these tropical plants in the garden?
Remember that they're used to growing on the forest floor covered by canopies. Therefore, the colorful patterns of the Calathea leaves will fade in direct sunlight. So if you want to grow Calathea Medallions in your garden, place the plant in the shade or where it gets diffused light.
It's also crucial to look for an area with relatively stable warm temperatures. To avoid temperature changes, you should also protect the plants from winds. Provide at least 18 to 24 inches between the plants to allow the leaves to grow and maximize light absorption.
Moving Plants In and Out
Temperature changes are one of the dilemmas you might encounter when growing Calathea Medallion plants outside. A sudden drop in temperature to below 55 degrees can cause harm to them since they are cold-sensitive. If you live in an area with chilly nights, they need protection from the cold.
Moving them indoors sounds like it would be a great solution, but the problem is these tropical plants don't like being disturbed. Thus, moving them in and out might be stressful for them.
Keep them warm outside in cold weather by using overturned pots, hoop tunnels, or cold frames. These can help keep your plants within a specific temperature range without depriving them of the bright indirect light from the sun.
Did you know?
“Calathea Medallion varieties fold up slightly during the nighttime, revealing the colorful undersides of their striking leaves.”
Calathea Medallion Plant Care Guide
However, once you figure out the conditions it needs to thrive, you can grow this stunning prayer plant in your indoor space and have it as a show-stopping display. While there are no short alternative routes to keep Calathea Medallion plants in good shape, the following plant care tips can help you successfully grow these sensitive indoor plants.
Click here to connect with a community of plant parents and get inspiration on how to take better care of your houseplant.
Stick to a Watering Schedule
Beginner houseplant owners often struggle with watering their plants correctly. Generally, it's best to water the Calathea Medallion plant when the top one inch of its soil is dry.
Many plant owners make the common mistake of soaking the soil and oversaturating the roots, killing the plant. To prevent overwatering, it might be a good idea to use a moisture meter.
Calathea Medallions are not drought tolerant either. The edges of Calathea leaves become dry, brown, and crispy if the plant experiences extended periods of dryness. Severe underwatering can also cause their leaves to turn yellow and drop.
Therefore, be sure to stick to a regular watering schedule to keep the Calathea Medallion plant properly watered.
You can water them less frequently during winter when their growth slows down. Still, watch for the top one inch of soil to dry. This helps to prevent overwatering and root rot.
Be Mindful of the Water Quality
Unlike other regular indoor houseplants, Calathea Medallions are sensitive to the chemicals in municipal tap water, such as chlorine and fluoride. Plants are also sensitive to the abundance of minerals found in hard water and water treated by water softeners.
If you use tap water, having a water filtration system would be a great idea to avoid contaminants from harming the plants. If possible, use distilled or purified water on your plants. Rainwater would also be a good alternative.
Maintain Humidity Levels
Humidity is a crucial factor when growing a Calathea Medallion plant. The ideal humidity levels for these indoor plants are between 50 and 60 percent. Unfortunately, Indoor air is typically drier than this, especially in the winter when temperatures are lower.
Using a humidifier is the best way to provide adequate humidity levels around the plant. It's a great lifesaver, especially when your home is much drier than usual. You can also regularly mist the Calathea leaves, but it seldom produces long-term positive results.
Besides misting and using a humidifier, you can keep Calathea Medallions humid by placing them in your bathroom or kitchen. It may also help if you group them with other tropical plants. But don't put them too close to each other; they need space to help them breathe and stay healthy.
You can also set the container of your Calathea Medallion plant on a pebble tray. This will boost the plant's humidity as the water slowly evaporates from the tray.
Place the Plant in the Right Location for Sunlight
Calathea Medallions are low-light-loving plants. They need bright indirect light to thrive because of their tropical nature. They grow at the base of taller trees in the wild, partly shaded from direct sunlight. Therefore, it's essential to shield them from direct sunlight to maintain their vibrant colors.
But this doesn't mean putting your Calathea Medallion in a dark spot. Your plant will wilt without any sunlight.
If you plant a Calathea Medallion outside, place it in an area with a partial shade or bright indirect sunlight.
If you're growing it indoors, don't place the plant directly in front of windows or near the doorways. This way, you can protect them from cold drafts, extreme temperature changes, and direct exposure to sunlight.
Use a Balanced Houseplant Fertilizer
Over-fertilizing is another typical problem among new houseplant owners. When it comes to fertilizing, too much is not a good thing. For optimum growth, fertilize them with a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month during their warm growing season, typically from spring until the end of the summer season.
Plant growth slows considerably in the fall and winter, and Calathea Medallions don’t need fertilizer.
Note that overfeeding these plants may result in root burn. Thus, cutting the fertilizer entirely during winter when growth is slow makes sense.
How to Prune and Clean Your Plant
Calathea Medallions don't need regular pruning. The only time you need to prune plants is to remove brown or yellow leaves. You can use scissors, a sharp knife, or pruning shears. Just make sure to sterilize your cutting tools before and after using them.
But to keep the healthy shine of a Calathea Medallion plant, you need to regularly clean the leaves by wiping the dust off them with a clean and damp cloth.
Repot Every Two to Three Years
As with other Calathea varieties, a Calathea Medallion plant doesn't like being disturbed. Thus, it only needs repotting once every two or three years. This is the perfect time to give them fresh soil and nutrients, especially when you find them rootbound.
Remember that Calathea Medallions might be sensitive to repotting. Try to do it before their active growing season, when the plant has a better chance of recovering from possible transplant shock. Also, ensure that the pot is only wide enough.
Look Out for Brown or Yellow Leaf Edges
Brown or yellow leaf edges are common problems with Calathea Medallions. If you see them, your plants are most likely experiencing some serious troubles. They will curl up and die if the issue progresses.
Inconsistent watering, drops in temperature, and overfeeding are among the top causes of the Calathea leaves turning brown or yellow. If it happens, review the care instructions above and figure out if there's anything you need to adjust in your plant care regimen.
Watch Out for Pest Infestation
Calathea Medallion plants are also prone to pest infestation. The most frequent pests of these plants are spider mites. However, they're also not immune to aphids, thrips, and mealybugs. Apply a neem oil spray or wipe the Calathea leaves with a damp cloth to control and prevent these pests from infesting your plants.
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FAQs on Calathea Medallions
How often should you water a Calathea Medallion?
The frequency at which you water your Calathea Medallion plants depends on several factors. You may have to water it multiple times every week or once every two weeks, depending on the humidity level of your place. To ensure that you're doing it properly, check the soil moisture level. Your plants likely need watering if the soil is dry one inch below the surface.
How do you encourage new growth in Calathea medallions?
Balance is the most critical factor in encouraging new growth in Calathea Medallions. It may need some exploration on your part, but the key elements to bear in mind are the following: well-drained and moist potting soil, bright-indirect light, high humidity levels, filtered or distilled water, houseplant fertilizer.
Are Calathea medallions good for the bedroom?
Calathea Medallions would be a good addition to your bedroom space. Because of their humidifying and air purifying properties, they can help you have a restful sleep at night. However, make sure that your bedroom also has the right conditions for the plants to thrive.
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