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The plants of the genus calathea are some tens, originating from the tropical areas of Asia and the southern continent; they are grown as apartment plants, in particular they are much appreciated for the foliage; in fact the calatee are characterized by large leaves, of various shapes, oval, rounded or elongated. Each species has leaves of different colors, but always variegated, striped, or with the edge in a contrasting color with the rest of the leaf page. The back of the leaves of calathea It is generally purplish, or brown, and the long rigid stems bearing the leaves are often dark. In nature the calatee also show a particular flowering, during the spring months they produce thin rigid stems, which carry some yellow, orange or white flowers, gathered in short spikes; each flower is subtended by a long colored bract. Hardly the calatee bloom when grown in pots, even if there Calatea Crocata often produces some flowers even in the apartment.
The Calathea plants need to be positioned in a fairly bright area of the house; they can tolerate the shadow quite well, but often lose their brilliance in the colors of the foliage if they are placed in completely shaded places; they fear direct sunlight, so even in summer, if moved outdoors, they should be grown in a place sheltered from direct sunlight.
They prefer minimum temperatures above 15-18 ° C, so they need to be grown in the apartment during the cold months. They develop a fairly large rhizomatous root system; every 2-3 years it is advisable to repot the plants, when the roots have completely occupied the pot that contains them; we use a good rich and light soil, adding little pumice stone to improve drainage. During the months of greatest vegetative growth, from March to October, we supply fertilizer for green plants, every 12-14 days, dissolved in the water used for watering.
Characteristics of the leaves
|Calathea backemiana||Pale green color and dark green stripes|
|Calathea crocata||Oval shape, dark green color and purple reflections with gray spots|
|Calathea grandiflora||Bright green color, rippled|
|Calathea insignis||Acuminate, light green color|
|Calathea lanciniata||Dark green spots on the upper page, dark red underside|
|Calathea lindeniana||Dark green with emerald green rib|
|Calathea lousiae||Lanceolate shape, olive green spots on the upper page and purple red on the lower ones|
|Calathea makoyana||Oval shape, pale green|
The name Calathea derives from the Greek kalathos, or basket, probably due to the shape that takes the inflorescence of some species of the genus or for the baskets that are manufactured with the leaves of these plants by the natives of South America.
The origin is certain and are the tropical forests of South and Central America (particularly Brazil, Colombia, Perщ, southern Mexico). The genus Calathea includes about 300 species of rhizomatous, herbaceous, perennial and evergreen greenhouse or apartment plants, cultivated for the characteristic beauty of the leaves.
As with many tropical plants, the health and luxuriance of the plant are closely linked to environmental humidity, even for the caledas; We often check the soil, avoiding to leave it dry for prolonged periods of time, then we water regularly, but without excessively soaking the substrate. Throughout the year, remember to increase the ambient humidity around the caledes by vaporizing the foliage. We can also grow these plants by placing the pot in a cachepot filled with expanded clay, which we will keep moist, so the plant's roots will remain in the slightly damp soil, but the evaporation of water from the clay will allow us to get around the foliage a constantly humid environment.
Some crop care
Cultivating a Calathea is essential to keep the foliage always healthy and lush; the regular repottings, the waterings and the fertilizations sure can guarantee us a healthy plant and a correct vegetative development. To always keep the foliage healthy and beautiful it is good to periodically remove the withered or ruined leaves, cutting the long stem at the base; It is also important to take care to periodically clean the large leaves, which, especially during the winter, tend to accumulate dust and dirt. So remember to clean them gently, using a damp microfibre cloth, with which to remove all traces of dust. In this way we will also remove any specimen of cochineal, which often lurk on the underside of the foliage.
Propagation of the Calathea
Being a rhizomatous plant, propagation occurs by division of the rhizomes themselves. We proceed by dividing a rhizome but having the foresight to leave leaves and roots for each portion to appear fairly robust. The multiplication process should be carried out at temperatures never below or above 16-18 ° C using a substrate consisting of a porous, light and very acid mixture such as, for example, ground of leaves and peat in equal parts with addition of sand or perlite.
In the event that the aerial part deteriorates, do not be discouraged because the rhizome will sprout again.
Diseases and adversities of Calathea
The main adversity of the Calathea regards the red spider, that is a mite that finds its ideal habitat in hot and dry environments. If the best solution appears on your plant is the application of an acaricidal product. Its appearance can be prevented by maintaining high humidity around the leaves by spraying.
Other adverse effects may be poor environmental humidity, too strong and direct light. In the first case the leaves dry up and become brown. In this case it resolves by spraying the plants. If, on the other hand, the leaves turn over and appear pale, it means that it has been exposed to too direct and strong sunlight. In this case the Calathea must be positioned in a less exposed area.
The Calathea insignis or lancifolia
It comes from Brazil which can reach 50 cm in height. The leaves are spear-shaped, acuminated with slightly wavy edges and light green in color. The characteristic of these leaves lies in the fact that the upper page has dark green spots in correspondence with the central vein, almost always alternating, a longer and a shorter one.
The underside of the leaves appears dark purple red. It is perhaps the species that is best suited to apartment living. It needs frequent spraying and is little subject to attacks of red spider.
The Calathea mackoyana, originally also from Brazil, is also called “peacock plant and can reach 60 cm in height. It is one of the most widespread species on the market although it is not very easy to grow it. The leaves reach 15 cm in length and have long petioles, have an oval shape and are pale green with darker margins and a fairly symmetrical pattern that extends to the two sides of the central rib, with dark green spots alternating with others more long.
On the lower page the design is repeated, but on shades of reddish-green that can reach up to dark red. This species requires a high environmental humidity and greater brightness, compared to the others. It can be easily attacked by mites.
Calatea: Other species
There are many species of plants belonging to the genus Calathea. Some of these:
• Calathea backemiana: with pale green leaves dark green stripes;
• Calathea crocata: with dark green oval leaves with purple reflections and gray spots. The flowers are of a beautiful bright orange color;
• Calathea grandiflora: the leaves are rippled in bright green;
• Calathea lanciniata: the leaves have dark green spots on the upper page while the lower page is dark red. Reaches 60 cm in height;
• Calathea lindeniana: it reaches 30-40 cm in height and the leaves are dark green with an emerald green area along the rib;
• Calathea louisae: it has lanceolate leaves 20-25 cm long, with irregular olive-green or gray spots, on the upper page, while the lower page appears red-purple with green margins. It reaches 40-50 cm in height.
Calathea is a highly sought after apartment plant due to its beauty due to its large, colored leaves