Calathea Makoyana or Peacock Plant earns its glorious name from the elegance and beauty of its leaves. The dark-green feathery effect is replaced with a pinkish-reddish underside when new leaves are growing, imitating the splash of color associated with peacocks.
This colorful plant with Brazilian origin loves attention. It will reward anyone who provides it with tender care, whether you are an amateur in gardening or have been in it for years.
So, how do you care for Calathea Makoyana or the peacock plant?
- Watering: the peacock plant loves moderate watering. Wait for the top surface to dry before the next sprinkling session.
- Light: it loves indirect bright light exposure.
- Temperature: as a tropical plant, it needs warm temperatures between 60oF or 16oC and 75oF or 24oC.
- Soil: use well-drained house plant soil with sufficient air for the roots.
The beauty of Calathea Makoyana requires an owner who is ready to do what it takes to maintain it. However, this is not meant to scare beginners because this gorgeous plant with attractive foliage will tolerate a wide range of handling habits. All you need is to know how to balance the delicate needs of one of the most graceful plants to enjoy its beautiful foliage display throughout the year.
Let’s get right into it.
Basic Care guidelines for Calathea Makoyana or Peacock Plant
The peacock plant originates from the dense tropical forests of Brazil. If you want to witness its colorful foliage display, you must try to mimic the conditions of the Amazonian region right at home.
Here are the main areas to watch:
Calathea Makoyana is a water-loving beauty, both from the roots to the leaves. You will need to water your peacock once every week, ensuring that your soil drains the excess water sufficiently, leaving enough moisture in the soil. By the time you return to watering, the top surface should be dry.
Water is especially necessary during the growing season. Lack of sufficient water results in stunted growth, reduced foliage, and less colorful leaves. Moreover, the gorgeous foliage will turn yellow and begin to wilt if the water is not adequate.
Though the plant originates from the wet amazon forests of Brazil, too much water will kill the plant. The excess water leaves your soil soggy, leading to root rot and other fungal diseases. Check the drainage level of the soil and ensure that the pot has sufficient provisions for draining excess water.
Calathea Makoyana is also sensitive to the quality of water you feed the plant. Too hard, too soft, heavily fluoridated, and any chemical-laden water will affect the soil causing the turn brown as they burn. In the absence of rainwater, allow tap water to sit in a bucket for 24hrs before watering. Remember, the plant requires minimal watering during winter.
Calathea Makoyana requires moderate watering using chemical-free water. Ensure that your soil drains the water sufficiently to leave it moist. Reduce the frequency and amount of water during winter.
Calathea Makoyana demands a humidity level above 60% at all times. It is understandable because the plant grows in the dense Amazonian forests that receive rain throughout the year. If the humidity level goes below 60%, the leaves will protest with brown spots and edges on leaves.
The beauty of the peacock plant demands that you place it at a visible place around the house. Since the kitchen and bathroom are too hidden, you will require regular misting to guarantee the necessary moisture levels. An electronic humidifier will also help you to maintain the right humidity level.
Grouping it with other plants will also help to boost humidity levels at a corner. Take the plant away from heating or cooling vents because the conditions they create usually interfere with humidity. Another option is to improvise a humidifier by placing a tray of water with pebbles at the foot of the plant. Natural evaporation ensures that the place around the plant remains humid.
When misting your peacock plant, use rainwater or distilled water. Chemicals sprayed on leaves could damage them, causing your entire plant to wilt. Further, do not leave the leaves wet all the time because they will attract fungus and generate droplets that affect the moisture content of your soil.
Calathea Makoyana is a humidity loving plant, requiring a minimum of 60%. Use a digital humidifier to monitor and maintain the right humidity. Monitor the effects of indoor cooling and heating on humidity levels around the plant and make necessary adjustments to maintain the right balance.
Peacock plants love soil that drains well while holding sufficient moisture for root growth. A mixture of 1 part perlite or sand and 2 part peat is adequate to grow Calathea Makoyana. Also, add organic matter to your soil to improve both drainage and aeration.
The quality of soil used in potting peacock plants will be affected by factors like the amount of water, the chemical composition of the water, and the drainage efficiency of the pot used. The temperature around the room will affect the moisture content of the soil because of natural evaporation.
Fertilizers also contaminate your soil, making it unhealthy for your roots. Use diluted fertilizer and ensure that the soil drains effectively to avoid the retention of residue chemicals. An alternative is to use compost-based fertilizer, which provides natural compounds that will not damage the soil.
Calathea Makoyana requires moist, well-drained soil. Do not contaminate the soil using chemicals from water or fertilizer. The only way to cure chemical contamination will be repotting, a process that may slow the growth of your peacock plant.
The colorful leaves of Calathea Makoyana call for attention and might, therefore, not want to be hidden at a corner. However, their delicate nature means that you cannot expose them to direct sunshine unless it’s the therapeutic early morning shine. The plant loves bright light and will bloom both aggressively and gracefully whenever it gets enough light.
If the peacock plant is growing in the yard or veranda, ensure that it is shaded against the damaging noon sun. Direct sunlight drains the soil and dries the leaves, leaving you with a shriveled peacock plant. Use bright fluorescent lighting if you cannot access natural light.
Dim light is equally dangerous for the Calathea Makoyana. It causes stunted growth, leaving you with dull foliage that does not live up to its name. Place the plant by the window during dreary winter months.
The peacock plant loves bright light to promote robust foliage growth. However, shield it from direct sunlight that may damage the leaves and drain the soil.
Calathea Makoyana prefers average to warm room temperature ranging from 70oF-85oF or 21oC-29oC. However, depending on humidity, the plant can survive in a slightly colder area of 60oF or 15oC. Further, controlled room temperature means that you provide the perfect temperature for your peacock plant using indoor cooling and heating systems.
Beyond providing the right temperature, ensure that it remains constant. Fluctuations in temperature will cause the plant to wilt. Cold drafts are also dangerous, calling for the plant to be placed away from AC ducts. Temperatures around such an area could be challenging to control.
Balance the temperature and humidity during cold months when indoor spaces are dry and enclosed. Prolonged high temperatures without adequate moisture will cause the leaves to curl and eventually dry. If you are in the USDA winter zones of 10 and 11, your Calathea is likely to survive without much trouble.
Calathea Makoyana requires constant warm temperature balanced with high humidity. Avoid placing the plant near the window or any place with regular drafts. Sudden temperature fluctuations will damage your plant, causing it to wilt.
Advanced Care Guidelines for Calathea Makoyana
Being the glorious plant it is, Calathea Makoyana requires tender care to exhibit its brilliance. Delicate actions like fertilization, pruning, pest prevention, and propagation will make a massive difference in the growth and beauty of your plant.
Here is a comprehensive guide on how to squeeze the most beautiful display from the peacock plant:
The peacock plant is mainly grown for its glorious foliage. However, it still has a small and very inconspicuous flower. The flower is usually white in color but may come in a different shade. Moreover, the flower appears sporadically throughout the year, denying plant owners the certainty of waiting for a particular season.
Some Calathea varieties, however, have beautiful and conspicuous flowers. They include
- White Ice
- Calathea crocata
What it does not have in flowers, Calathea Makoyana compensates with the most vibrant foliage. When the soil is right with perfect humidity, you have guaranteed bright light and moderately warm temperature; your plant will give you a spectacular view with attractive leaves that represent the elegance and beauty of a peacock by all standards.
Allow the foliage on your plant to overgrow so that the broom can colonize the pot. The flowers will appear conspicuously in the middle at any time of the year. However, you will struggle to get any fragrance from the tiny peacock plant flowers.
The peacock plant can only be described as a heavy feeder because it loves fertile soil. Add organic manure when preparing the potting mixture to stimulate robust growth during the early days. If you are using fertilizer, it is recommended to dilute it to half-strength when making the potting mix.
Apply fertilizer alongside water once a month. Too much fertilizer will damage the chemical composition of your soil, leaving you with no option but to repot the plant. Do not apply fertilizer during winter because the plant is in a dormant state.
If the leaves turn lighter in color, it means that they lack iron or nitrogen. Use NPK fertilizer or spray foliar to improve the nitrogen levels in your soil. You should also check the drainage of your soil regularly. With these measures, you will notice an improvement within two weeks.
Pruning is done to remove old or diseased leaves. It helps the young and vibrantly growing leaves to maximize the nutrients available and initiate robust growth. Removal of sick leaves helps you to control the diseases or the pesky pests while salvaging your plant at the same time.
Pruning is also a tactic used to control the growth of your plant. It limits the speed of growth and helps you to maintain the desired size, especially one that complements both the pot used and the space available indoors. The practice involves removing the old lower leaves to give way to young, beautiful, and new leaves.
Cutting the leaves will also affect how fast the peacock plant grows. If it is not done well, it will lead to the eventual death of your plant because it could not perform basic processes like photosynthesis. Prune during spring or summer and compensate by increased watering and fertilizer application.
It will take two or more years before the Calathea Makoyana requires repotting. With adequate fertilizer application, quality soil, and sufficient water, the plant will outgrow its pot within two years. At this stage, you will be repotting to provide more space for the roots to expand.
Repotting can also be used as a chance to propagate a peacock plant. Instead of using a larger pot, prepare a potting mixture by splitting the soil and leaving clumps. Reducing the size of foliage will leave the roots with more space to grow.
There are other reasons where you might need to do repotting before the two year mark. Soil that is contaminated with chemicals like fluoride and salts found in water or fertilizer will cause stunted growth. Soggy soil also harbors dangerous pests and diseases whose only cure is repotting. Therefore, you will have to prepare a fresh potting mixture to solve chemical, pest, and disease issues.
Repotting is best done in spring or summer during robust growth. Monitor soil moisture and add compost manure to boost fertility. It should take two weeks to one month for the plant to regain its glorious appearance. Remember, you might not see flowers in the near months after repotting.
The propagation of Calathea Makoyana is done by division. Split the stem and leaf clumps, ensuring that a substantial amount of soil remains attached to the roots. Place the smaller lumps in the middle of a pot with the roots loosely touching the base before adding moist soil.
The best time for propagation is between spring and summer because the temperatures are adequate to stimulate root growth. Cover the propagated plants with a polythene bag until new leaves have sprouted. It will keep the plant warm and enhance humidity. Remember, it will be easier to propagate during repotting.
Scales, spider mites, and aphids are the common pests you can expect around your Calathea Makoyana. The parasites are cleared by sprinkling the leaves with water. You can also maintain the right temperature and humidity around the bush to enhance control of the pests spreading. Failure to control the pests will result in dull foliage that wilts over time.
The most common disease is root rot that emanates from overwatering. Reduce the amount of water, take the plant outside where evaporation is enhanced, or repot using better-draining soil.
Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Calathea Makoyana or the Peacock Plant
Why do Calathea leaves close at night?
Calathea leaves close in response to the amount of light. The closing is controlled by ‘joints’ between the stem and leaves that are moved by light. If you are keen, you will hear the rustling sound as the blades close.
How do I revive a Calathea?
A dying Calathea can only be revived once you know the cause of death. Here are the reasons where a Calathea may be dying and what you can do to restore it.
- Direct sunlight: take the plant to a shaded place indoors or outside as long as it is away from direct sunlight. You will notice early signs of excess sunlight when the leaves begin to wilt.
- Overwatering: the soil is soggy and has begun to suffocate the roots. They could also be suffering from root rot. Drain the soil by enhancing perforations at the bottom of the pot. You can also change the soil into a mixture that promotes better drainage.
Does Calathea clean the air?
The huge leaves are not just beautiful to see, but they clean indoor air as well, leaving you with fresh air.
Why are my Calathea leaves curling up?
The plant is unhappy because you are providing insufficient water. Add the frequency of watering, mulch to reduce evaporation, or minimize the drainage.
Why does my Calathea leaves have brown tips?
The soil is too dry, or you have added too much fertilizer that it is choking the plant. The water could also be inadequate. Troubleshoot these issues and provide a solution.
Are peacock plants toxic?
Peacock plants are non-toxic to pets. They can be grown in homes with both cats and dogs.
What are the other popular Calathea varieties?
Some of the most popular Calathea varieties similar to the Calathea Makoyana are:
- Calathea Warscewiczii– it is identified by its showy cone-shaped flower and velvety green leaves.
- Calathea Zebrina– it’s famous for its large light green leaves with dark stripes. It is also an easy pick for beginners.
- Calathea Orbifolia– the plant has succulent looking leaves with a silvery touch.
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