Calathea leaves curling up

calatheaApril 27, 2008

Hi everybody,

I normally have no problems with Marantaceae, but recently my Calathea Beautystar (see - it comes from a very reliable breeder quite well-known in EU) has developed curly leaves, the new ones are dry and crackling at the touch...

I know I should have taken care of it more, but I am quite convinced I did not underwater *that* extremely... (also, it is in a planter very close to a Begonia Rex and a Stromanthe Sanguinea, on a bed of wet pebbles, so I really can't think it was that bad regarding humidity). It used to be in a cache-pot by itself, which of course contributed to elevating humidity, then I took it out of it in order to accommodate the new Begonia Rex in the planter with it (how typical, there is never enough space anywhere).

I wonder- could it be too much light? The plant is located (since its arrival here, 5 months ago) about 2 meters away from the windows in the "light corner" (two consecutive patio doors one facing East, the other South), but it does not get direct light of course. I have experienced previously how sulking Marantaceae can be if they get too much or too little light, but this Calathea is my first serious case of curly leaves.

Any idea? Many thanks in advance!

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Hi Calathea. Are the curling leaves new or old?
Evey so often, leaves from my Maranta/Calthea/Stromanthe curl. I first thought it lack of humidity, but because they're grouped, sit next to an indoor fountain, misted, showered wkly, and we use a home humidifier, this isn't the cause. Calatheas are touchy plants. Leaves curl for various reasons..Too much/little sun, overwatering, extreme underwatering, lack of humidity.
Since your screen name happens to be Calathea, I'm assuming you grow various types, know new leaves start out furled then when mature, open up. Right? (S)
Are they sitting in the same spot they were during winter? It's possible they're getting more direct sun, now that days are longer, especially in a south window.
My Cals, etc, sit across a west window, but once summer arrives, they're placed further back, otherwise leaves furl and brown. But normally, when this happens, leaf edges brown, too. Is this happening to your Cal?
Another thing, Cals do not like too much heat. Is yours in a hot room? Sitting across a heating vent? if so, it's time they're moved. Gas heat will kill a Calathea. Especially if it's forced, aiming at plants.
Have you done anything different the last month? Fertilized? Repotted? Changed soils? My cals get a low dose of fert, or organic..Like Fish Emulsion. Though a lot of work, once a wk each are taken to the kitcen sink and hosed.
Do you have a ceiling fan? If so, run on low. On warm days open windows. Cals like fresh air.
At our local conservatory, Cals are kept in a cooler room, planted in the ground..(indoors)
A second conservatory keeps theirs in the Palm room, which is a little warmer, but they too are grown on the ground, beside a huge man-made pond. So, even though the room is tropical, growing close to the ground, under taller plants, keeps them cooler.
Overpotting is another problem, too much soil, especially if it's heavy. Good luck,Toni

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Where do you live? What kind of soil is it in? Did you mix the soil yourself? Last fertilized - how often - with what? Are you able to water thoroughly so water freely flows from the drain hole each time you water?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:35PM
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Dear Toni, Al,

Many thanks for your answers. I'll try to answer them in order, starting from the list of Al.

I live in Southern England. About 14 hrs of light a day these days.

The soil is standard John Innes Nr. 1 (typical British off-the-shelf mix for growing young plants).

Fertilization- I use Miracle Gro slow release tabs, I put the required amount for the pot size in February.

I can water without any problems- the soil drains well, and I take care of watering until the water flows out of the drain hole.

About Toni's questions:

The curling leaves are the old ones, they curl on both sides along the length (like in an involute vernation). When I refer to the new leaves being a bit crackling, I refer to those growing according to the usual convolute vernation of Calathea (or Stromanthe, or Ctenanthe for that matter). Incidentally, these curled up leaves also seem not to fold up at night as much and as efficiently as the others- like the mechanism for pulling them up which is in the pulvinus is "damaged".

Indeed, this particular plant has been sitting in the same spot as the whole winter. I see what you mean about the leaves getting brown at the edges: this is exactly what has happened to some of mine! So it may be *too much light* that causes it?

About temperature and humidity, we live at an almost constant humidity of about 60% (at this very moment it is 64%). And the temperature is 18-21 degrees (Celsius).

I don't fertilize my Marantaceae too much- they're slow growers anyway. And no, I did not repot, or do anything strange. My watering routine is standard- I actually use an hygrometer and water when needed (only, I had to attend my father at the hospital recently and somehow I slacked a bit). I mist all my plants needing misting two times a day, in the morning and in the evening.

Toni, your suggestion that it may be too much light seems to ring a bell- I have moved the plant a bit to the center of the room now, let's see what happens. Indeed, there seems to have been a bit of discoloration in the leaves, which may be bleaching caused by too much light.

Once again many thanks Al and Toni, I'll keep my eyes open and I'll do my best. All the best!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 3:59PM
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Calathea, sounds like you're doing everything possible..Soil, humidity, watering.
Like I said, Cals and relatives are not the easiest plants to care for, some harder than others.
See how they do in less light. But remember, now that they're in lower light watch the watering. It may not need the same frequency as it was in the sunnier spot.
Trim brown edges leaving about 1/8" of brown on. Also, perhaps saving a container filled with room temp water 'may' help..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 5:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

From this: "I use Miracle Gro slow release tabs, I put the required amount for the pot size in February." I'm left wondering if you added these tablets to the soil?


    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 9:36AM
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I did put the tablets in the soil, at the depth suggested on the box, yes. They're the cone shaped ones made of yellow granules. Many thanks, C

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 12:09PM
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Hello all, I live in karachi, Pakistan. I'm very new at gardening and can barely understand some of the terms used in your conversation. I am having similar problem with my cal as calathea did, except, I did notice one thing. Of late, the leaves start to curl almost immediately after the plant has been watered. I do water the plant twice a week. It receives filtered light The temperature these days is touching 40 degrees (centigrade). I am watering as much as I was when the temperature was in the low 30's. Am I underwatering? Please help!!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 7:54AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Shoabi., there are so many factors that affect how long a plant takes to dry, it's impossible to say from the info we have so far if your plant is getting too much or too little water. Picking up the plant should help you gauge how dry (or wet) it is. In your location, (assuming the climate is desert,) low humidity may be stressing your plant more than either of these. A terrarium might help. Adding a pic would be helpful.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 12:28PM
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At those temperatures Calathea tend to curl, will also do it with too much sun, especially if humidity is very low. Just make sure the potting mix stays moist without being soggy. They need good drainage. Mine also do that in hot weather but it doesn't seem to affect them badly long term.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Thank you for the response. The humidity here is up at 60-70% presently. I don't think thats an issue. i don't think drainage is an issue either as there is no water left standing in the tray. I make sure that the excessive water is totally drained. There are a few new leaves sprouting as well.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 2:42AM
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On our hot days the humidity can range from 90% in the morning to 30% in the afternoon, all in the one day. The Calatheas feel it most in the afternoon, then come good as the humidity rises back up.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 7:23PM
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