Fussy Calatheas

giselle9(7)September 19, 2013


I am having some trouble with fussy calatheas. I have a dottie, ornata, and rosy roseopicta. I keep them next to a closed east terrace door, away from direct sun, on humidity trays (not sitting in the water) and keep the soil a little moist. I ordered them online and have had them for about 1 month. They arrived stressed, I had to cut several leaves off them. Despite taking the care mentioned, I am getting a combination of dry dark edges / spots, some curling on the edges, yellowing edges, and color fading on the tips. I have only one new leaf grow on the ornata and as it is still rolled, it is growing in dry/withered/light brown. What does that mean?

Is there something I'm not doing correctly?

Also, when you cut an ugly/dying leaf, you cut as close to the soil line as possible?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you,

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marquest(z5 PA)

I killed my dottie so I am not much help. I did manage to keep it alive for 2 years. I found moisture had to be exact. Not wet but moist at all times. Because I am not one to water, it would usually hang in until summer then it would come back. By the end of winter I would be down to one leaf.

I do not know how many leaves you have left but if the leaf has the least bit of color I would not cut them off. The plant is suffering and it will need as much energy as possible during its struggle. Remember you are not going for beauty you are going for survival.

You can try putting them in plastic bags and close them for a few hours. Close during the day and open during the night to get the humidity up and get the plant strong.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:25PM
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Calatheas are difficult when they arrive healthy...they're much more work when Cals start out with brown leaves, etc.

The Pictia series are the fussiest of all Calatheas. At least , through my own experience.

Can you give me the initials of the online nursery Cals were purchased? If you feel uncomfortable, it's understandable.
Did you notify the nursery after receiving plants?

Calatheas need a perfect environment to look their best.
I try duplicating our local conservatory and their native habitat. Doesn't always work though. :)

Cals do not like hot rooms. They dote on being summered outdoors, in shade.

My Cals are in a room that has 4 large windows..they face north, south and west. My Cals are wintered in said room because it has the most humidity, and cooler temps during winter.

Summer is a problem because the room temp can get as hot as 90. Cals are placed on the opposite side of the room, 'summer' furthest away from windows.

IMO, Cals do not like being over-potted. Soil should be well-draining, bu fertilie, too.
Not only should they sit on humidity tray, but sprayed daily and showered in sink.
When soil gets completely dry, I filled up the sink with water and 2-3 drops of dish soap. Cals are then set in the sink until top soil is saturated.
I then spray foliage with hose attached to sink.

Since Cals are slow-growing, 'here in IL,' I do not fertilize during winter. In summer, or during growing season, they're fed once a month with Fish Emulsion.
'Yes, FE has an odor,' but only lasts a day or two.

If you use SuperThrive, add 3-4 drops with fertilizer.

Leaves that are all brown should be removed. Foliage with little brown on edges can be trimmed, but leave a little brown, 'about 1/8"' on..otherwise, brown will continue spreading.

I wish you luck...Cals are one of the prettiest foliage plants around, but they are fussy....:)

Hey Marquest.. Plastic is a good idea. Toni

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Thanks for the responses!

I ordered them on ebay from what seems a reputable seller/nursery. i told them they arrived a little stressed and they offered to replace them if I wasn't satisfied.

I'm just trying to make them look as nice as possible. I potted them up from 4 inch pots to 5 inch pots because the roots were coming out of the drainage holes. The roots had circled around the bottom of the pot and I cut no more than an inch off the bottom, which made the root mass smaller. Should I have kept them in the same size pot as they came since I trimmed the roots? Maybe now the 5 inch pot is too big? Should I repot them back into 4 inch pots or would that cause more stress?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Hi Giselle,

Good question.

Did you repot as soon as they arrived or wait a couple days?

It's usually better to wait a few days so plants, all plants, acclimate.

How much space is between root ball and new, inner pot, 'after trimming?'

If there's a little room, I'd keep in the new pot, but, during winter, you'll have to watch watering. Too much soil, 'may' equals wet soil..something plants dislike.
It depends on drainage and how often you water.
Are you a waterhaulic? lol.

Have any pics to show? Toni

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 1:33PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Toni, I have a lot of cloths that have to be dry cleaned. Those bags have been life/plant savers for my plants that love humidity. I close them up in the bags and leave them closed until I see condensation then I leave them open for a couple of days.

I really do not like houseplants that love water. My plants are only watered once a month if that in the winter. I hate to water. Cool conditions and very little water works for most of my houseplants. That was how Dottie died, She did not like to dry at all. Constant moisture.

I loved that plant.

But this is what it looked like when I would put it out for the summer. Winter inside would take it down.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Howdy Marquest,

Any plants in particular that are wintered in plastic bags?
Plastic sure helps with humidity, that's for sure.

2-3-years ago, I bought two Peperomias that were shipped in small, plastic bags.
That plastic doesn't come off. Not since their arrival.

If the plastic was removed, both Peps would be history. lol

Poor Dottie. :(
Did you toss her? Sometimes they come back..ask Steven King.

Dottie was so pretty. It's ashame.
Plants look so nice and healthy at the stores..then they come home with us, and do not like our winters. Cold, dry and gray. Heck, I don't like winter either.
Snow for Chrismas through New Year's, then spring. lol

I can't believe you get by watering once a month! Lucky.
My soil dries 2-3 days..

Well-draining soil is good for those who like watering...Think my tropicals are going back in heavier soil. I'm getting to darn old to spend 3 days watering. lol.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 9:14PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

My plastic bag plants are....4 Begonias, 1 gardenia, 1 polly African mask.

Yes Toni once a month or less watering. I do not like to water and do not have time to water. After retirement got involved in so many things when I come home I am ready shower and bed.

With over 200 tropical and houseplants I am not going to spend hours watering plants. I have plants in every room except the dining room. That would be crazy running all over the house with water every week.

Yes fast draining soil is great for new to growing plant people and people that like to water. IMO. I buy a quality potting soil that has served me well and works with my watering habits. (I use Black Gold or a soil from a local organic soil Co.) Neither are expensive but my plants love the stuff. The only plants that die are the ones that need that constant watering thing.

If I find another Dottie she will be one that ends up in the plastic bag in the winter.

Oh and no I did not throw Dottie away right away. It came back one year from no leaves but I gave it all summer and nothing came back.
giselle back to your question. I hope we have helped with some of the suggestions. I do think the best you can do for them at this point is the plastic bag until they get strong enough to grow with less humidity.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 12:48PM
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