Calathea zebrina care guide

Today we bring another tropical indoor plant with unprecedented fame. The reason: its flowers? Its smell? Its bearing? None of that. The beauty of the Calatea zebra is found, plain and simple, in its leaves. This is a great advantage over flowers, which are temporary. The leaves are always there. It requires a little more dedicated attention but it is worth it. You dare?


The genus Calathea is highly varied. There are approximately 25 species of this genus and they all share something that is highly appreciated from an ornamental point of view. Its leaves, large and striped like feathers, that you can even think that they are painted by the hand of man. Each and every one of the species of this genus is surprising and its decorative character focuses only on the leaves.

Today we are talking about one specifically that is one of the most famous. Calathea zebrina or commonly called Calatea Zebra. This plant has become one of the favorites and we will not tell you why. Judge for yourself. In its natural habitat it can reach a meter in height and its leaves can reach half a meter. At home it will not be easy to reach these records but the majesty of the plant is assured if it is well cared for. Its leaves have a velvety visual texture with a dark and glossy green interrupted by nerves of a lighter green but just as bright. The underside also has these color variations, although much less pronounced.



If we move within the thermal ranges of a house, this Calatea will have no problems. It needs medium-high temperatures and the constancy of the approximate 21ºC of a perfectly manageable home. Something else could even be useful but it is not recommended for us to exceed 21ºC. Because of energy savings and because so much temperature inside the house is not good for the body, and one thing is clear to me. Between the plant and me… I choose myself ;-). Something we have to be very careful with are sudden changes in temperature and drafts . They affect you enormously.


The best is shaded or with some indirect light. The direct sun directly kills it, irretrievably burning the leaves. As it tolerates semi-shaded sites well, it is usually a very recurrent plant for sites where others cannot grow properly due to the low incidence of the sun.


When we said that it is more delicate care, we were referring to this point, both due to irrigation and ambient humidity. Watering in summer should be frequent (every 3 days approx) and somewhat more spaced in winter (every week). Never, never, allow the substrate to dry completely. If irrigation is important, ambient humidity is essential to keep the leaves shiny. If it doesn’t have considerable humidity, the leaves will start to brown around the edges and fall off. Solution: spray almost daily and / or put the well-known tray with wet pebbles.

Substrate and subscriber

We need a substrate that retains moisture and is rich in nutrients . If you are familiar with these soil conditions, peat and mulch may have come to mind. If not, we will tell you. The best way to get a substrate rich in nutrients and especially in organic matter and that retains moisture are substrates with peat and mulch bases . The fertilizer can be done with a liquid fertilizer (mixed with irrigation) for green plants approximately every 15 days in the spring and summer months.


  • Summarizing the above, we remind you of the 3 basic points to take good care of the Zebra Calatea or any Calatea: HEAT, HUMIDITY AND SHADOW.
  • If the leaves turn brown at the edges it is possible that it lacks ambient humidity
  • Do not clean the blades with water or polishing products. Use a brush or soft cloth
  • Irrigation water is very important that it is tempered and free of lime.  It should never, never be cold and don’t water the leaves. Always the substrate.
  • If the leaves begin to twist and discolor, it is a sign of a burn from excessive direct light. Move it to a darker place.


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