Skip to main content

Why calathea plants are perfect for your home office (and how to care for them)

How to grow a calathea to spruce up your home office

A home office is a great place to get work done, but it doesn’t necessarily make your work easier. Creating an environment that helps you focus on work is tricky, but one thing that can help is adding a plant. Bringing just a little bit of the outdoors in can create a calm, relaxing atmosphere that’s more conducive to work. If you’re looking for a fantastic plant to add to your home office, then look no further than a calathea. These stunning plants are an excellent choice, and we’re about to tell you why. Here’s how to care for calathea plants.

A person holding a potted calathea lancifolia or rattlesnake plant
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What are calathea plants, and why are they good office plants?

Calathea is a genus of plants known for their unique variegated leaves. These plants are also sometimes called prayer plants, because of the way certain varieties of calatheas move their leaves. Calatheas are very similar to the goeppertia; so similar, in fact, that many species of goeppertia were previously misidentified as calathea!

Calathea plants make excellent indoor plants because they’re easy to care for and are tolerant of many conditions, including low light. Additionally, they’re incredibly forgiving. If you don’t spend much time in your office, and sometimes forget to care for any plants you have there, then calathea plants are a great choice for you. They bounce back from neglect with relative ease.

They also stay relatively small, only growing to around 2 feet tall. This makes them a good choice for desks or small tables where larger plants might take up too much room.

A potted calathea musaica
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Planting a calathea

Plant your calathea in rich, well-draining soil. You can mix compost, coco coir, and/or perlite into your potting soil to give it a boost of nutrients and improve water retention. Make sure to use a pot with drainage holes, so that excess water can escape.

Keep your calathea in a warm and humid environment. If you plan on planting your calathea outdoors, only do so after the last frost of the year. As houseplants, you can start your calathea at any time of the year. However, keep it away from drafty air vents or windows. Adding a humidifier will help your calathea thrive, but you can substitute this for occasional misting and your plant will be fine.

Place your calathea in bright, indirect light. Avoid setting it in direct light for too long, as the leaves can burn. A gauzy curtain can help diffuse the light, which is especially helpful if you plan on setting your calathea right in front of a window. Otherwise, place your calathea a bit back from the window.

Large, striped calathea leaves
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Caring for your calathea

Water your calathea every week to every other week, depending on the amount of light it’s getting. Calatheas, like most other plants, need more water when in brighter light and less water in dim light. The top few inches of soil should be dry when you water it, otherwise, you risk overwatering your calathea. These plants bounce back from being underwatered fairly easily, but overwatering is more difficult to correct, so err on the side of caution.

Repot your calathea once a year or every other year, depending on how large you want it to grow. Transplanting your plant into a larger pot encourages it to grow wider. To encourage growth, the next pot you move your calathea to should be roughly 2 inches wider than the last pot. Make sure to use fresh soil when repotting your plant. This refreshes the nutrients in the soil and helps prevent or get rid of any diseases, fungi, or pests that may be in the old soil.

Calathea plants produce flowers, but only rarely indoors. Don’t worry if your calathea isn’t blooming, it just means that the conditions aren’t absolutely perfect. However, a calathea can still survive and thrive, even if the conditions are right for it to flower. The most common reason for a calathea to not flower is a lack of humidity.

A purple and white calathea flower with striped leaves behind it
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Common problems with calathea plants

The most common problems that you may notice with your calathea plant come from improper watering. Luckily, the leaves will tell you exactly what is wrong. If the leaves are drooping or curling, then your calathea is underwatered. Give it a good drink and it will perk back up. If the leaves are turning yellow, especially if the stems or base of the plant are darker than normal, then your calathea is overwatered. Let it dry out in a warm, sunny spot. You may need to repot it in dry soil if the problem is severe.

If the leaves begin to develop dark spots, then there are two possible causes. The first is bacterial leaf spot, a fungal infection caused by wet leaves. Avoid getting water on the leaves when you water your calathea and remove any infected leaves, as the infection can spread to other leaves.

The second possible cause of dark spots is a buildup of minerals in the soil. This typically occurs in calatheas that are watered with tap water. The minerals in tap water that don’t bother us can distress calatheas, so use distilled water instead.

You may see common houseplant pests on your calathea, such as mites, whiteflies, and even mealybugs. You can prevent these by applying neem oil to your plant and dusting it regularly.

Calathea plants are an easy way to create a peaceful work environment in your home office. They’re hardy and forgiving, so don’t worry if you have a brown thumb! Even inexperienced gardeners can keep these plants alive and thriving.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
How to revive a struggling orchid and return it to its majestic former glory
We'll show you how to check the roots, remove pests, and provide the TLC your orchid needs to thrive
An orchid in a pot on the table

Orchids are beautiful houseplants native to tropical regions. Most often, when you buy them from a nursery, they’ll be in full bloom. This will give you an idea of the color and shape of their petals, which differ depending on the variety, so you can choose the best orchid variety for your home. Once you've brought it home and planted it in soil or in water, your orchid may thrive - or it might start to wilt.

It’s disheartening when your new plant turns out to be unhappy in the environment you've picked for it, and it can even make you feel like a bad plant parent. Luckily, most of the orchid's problems are fixable so long as you catch them early enough. Keep reading to learn how to revive an orchid and give it back its rightful place as the centerpiece of your indoor plant collection.
How do you bring back a wilting orchid?
When an orchid starts to fade, you’ll probably find yourself wondering: can you bring an orchid plant back to life? Can a dying orchid be saved? Unfortunately, it isn’t a straight yes or no answer. How to revive your orchid will depend largely on the symptoms and the root (no pun intended) of the problem. Sometimes it’s as easy as considering the plant's natural habitat and making adjustments to your home to fit its needs. Other times, you may have to do a bit of root maintenance to see results.

Read more
Incorporate these shower plants into your bathroom for a green infusion
These 7 plants help greenify your bathroom
Bathroom plant layout

As you turn your home into a jungle, transform your bathroom into paradise with the help of hanging shower plants. Adding extra greenery to your bathroom can switch up the ambiance for a lush vibe — it’ll be like taking a shower in the great outdoors while enjoying the comforts of your home. When picking out shower plants, keep humidity-loving species at the top of your list: Think ferns, figs, and more!

Curious about incorporating tropical vibes into this nook of your home? Read on to learn how to hang plants in the bathroom and which plants work best for this steamy environment.
Things to consider
Humidity and light
The bathroom is ideal for houseplants because of its humidity. However, keep in mind other requirements that your plants will need. Before you bring plants into your bathroom, consider factors such as light and temperature. If your bathroom doesn’t get a lot of light, invest in supplementary grow lights or pick plants that can thrive in low-light conditions. Also, take into account your bathroom temperature since some plants don't tolerate cold drafts.
How to hang the houseplants
Decide how you’ll hang your houseplants. Get creative with placement when building a plant paradise in the shower. Showerheads, caddies, shower rods, and curtain rods are great spots for hanging foliage, given that your planter isn’t too heavy. You can also take advantage of heavy-duty utility hooks that adhere to tiles.

Read more
Turn your pothos plant into a hydroponic oasis
How to propagate a golden pothos from cuttings
Hanging pothos plant

Golden pothos brighten up any home garden and they are one of the easiest plants to propagate in either water or soil. Pothos propagation can be done one of two ways -- either hydroponically or in soil. Try both options out to determine which one works best for your space. There are many different types of pothos plants, also known as pipremnum aureum or Devil's Ivy.

This guide for how to propagate pothos works for pretty much all of them. Golden pothos, one of the most common varieties, is characterized by its yellow undertones. It's important to note that leaves in a propagated golden pothos plant may contain less yellow spots than the parent plant. Though losing some color still leaves you with not one but two beautiful plants.
Why you might want to propagate a golden pothos
Whether it's a golden pothos or any other pothos variety, you'll soon find that these plants grow quickly. So even if you're not interested in creating more baby plants, cutting and pruning your pothos is vital to keeping it healthy and managing the amount of space it takes up. Your pothos might be hanging and reaching the floor, or it might be threatening to take over the wall you've been training it to vine over. Either way, cutting off a bit here and there will allow you to grow baby plants and will also encourage the plant to grow bushier and healthier vines.

Read more