The calathea medallion can decorate any drab corner with its attractive foliage, but you’ll have to care for it to see its colors. From its temperature to watering habits and everything in between, how do you grow the calathea medallion?
How to care for the calathea medallion? Here’s how to care for the calathea medallion:
- Water the plant whenever its top inch of soil is dry
- Use well-draining potting soil like that for African violets
- Provide low to medium indirect light
- Keep the temperature between 65 and 80 degrees
- Maintain 50 percent relative humidity
- Fertilize monthly during the active growing season, diluting with water
In this explanatory guide, I’ll first introduce you to the calathea medallion and then dive deeper into all the facets of its care. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel like a calathea master!
What Is the Calathea Medallion?
The calathea medallion is a variety of the calathea or prayer plant that’s known as the Calathea veitchiana. The reason this pretty houseplant is named after a medallion is due to the shape of its leaves. While the standard calathea has long, angular leaves, the calathea medallion’s leaves are short and round.
Compared to the leaf pattern of the standard calathea, those of the calathea medallion are often more intricate, with stripes, flecks, and vein lines in colors like dark green, light green, and sometimes even maroon, purple, or red.
Like other calathea, the calathea medallion can be finicky about its care. That said, if you have prior calathea experience, figuring out what this plant needs will be far less challenging.
If this is your first calathea, then don’t worry! The next section is chock full of the information you’re looking for.
Caring for Your Calathea Medallion Plant
Watering A Calathea Medallion
Moisture is a must for the calathea medallion, especially during its active growing season in the spring and summer. Yet beginner indoor gardeners can misinterpret this information to mean that the houseplant’s soil must always be soaking.
There’s a difference between moist and soaking soil, and here’s the best way to ascertain which is which. Use the fingertip test.
Wash your hands if they’re not already clean, then towel dry them. Put one clean finger an inch into the soil. If that first inch is dry or approaching dry, then it’s time to water your calathea.
Yet if you can feel moisture in the soil, then hold off. The calathea medallion’s soil is moist enough right now and more water would be too much for it. You’ll cause more harm than good.
Calathea medallions, like other calatheas, detest standing water, aka water that can’t drain. The plant’s pot must have adequate drainage holes; I’ll talk more about the soil the calathea medallion needs in the next section.
Overwatering your plant can have serious repercussions. The calathea medallion will start to get moldy and funky. The moisture will attract fungus gnats, which look like mosquitoes but are sized like flies.
Fungus gnats can lay 300 eggs at a time, which will make ridding your plant of the insects very difficult.
An overwatered houseplant is also likely to develop root rot, where the roots are deprived of oxygen as you flood the plant with water. The calathea medallion appreciates deep root watering, but not oversaturating the roots.
Both insect infestations and root rot can quickly kill houseplants. I’ve seen some resources that say go wild when watering the calathea medallion since it likes more water than it does less. That’s setting you up to destroy your plant by overwatering.
The fingertip test is your best litmus to determine when it’s time to water the calathea medallion.
Type of Potting Soil For A Calathea Medallion
Since you might water the calathea medallion more often than some of the other plants in your indoor garden, you need to provide well-draining potting soil. The Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold African Violet Mix is a great option for potting mix to use for your Calathea Medallion since African Violets require high levels of moisture.
In the calathea medallion’s potting mix might be orchid bark, coconut coir, charcoal, perlite, or peat moss. These products retain moisture so you don’t have to water your plant quite as frequently.
They also increase the aeration of the potting mix so water can travel through the soil, to the calathea medallion’s roots, and then out of the pot through the drain hole in the bottom.
Type of Pot to Use For A Calathea Medallion
I talked earlier about the pot you’ll grow your calathea in, mentioning that it must have at least one drainage hole in the bottom. Outside of that, you want to carefully shop for a good pot material.
If the pot or container your calathea medallion is growing in is made of terracotta, then you’ll need to water your Calathea plant a lot more often than you would if it’s in a plastic pot.
Terracotta is a great material for growing most houseplants in because terracotta allows so much air to pass through itself, essentially breathing. But when it comes to caring for the calathea medallion or any other houseplant that thrives in moist soil, you’ll want a material that holds the water in longer.
To be clear, you can grow your calathea medallion in any type of container with a drainage hole, they’re not picky about the material of their container. What calathea are picky about is their water quality and watering habits.
If you choose to plant or repot your plant in terracotta you’ll just be watering your calathea every 2 to 3 days versus every 5 to 7 days if you choose a plastic pot or container as a home for your Calathea.
Best Lighting for A Calathea Medallion
The beauty of the calathea medallion’s variegated or patterned leaves can vanish if you don’t provide the right kind of light. The bright sunlight will burn the leaves, turning them brown and crispy. Their color will also fade or become completely washed out. Complete darkness isn’t much better.
Calethia Medallions Prefer Medium Indirect Light
Medium, indirect light will keep your calathea medallion happy and thriving. Indirect light is that which is filtered through a medium.
An Example Indirect light: Light coming in the window through thin curtains to help mute the direct light before it reaches your calathea.
Perhaps you replicate the calathea’s environment from its native home of the tropical Americas and put it by a larger indoor tree. That tree will shade your smaller plant. Even a curtain between your window and the plant is enough.
A few feet back away from a northerly-facing window is a great spot to put your calathea medallion.
Ideal Temperature for A Calathea Medallion
One of the easier elements of caring for the calathea medallion is in maintaining its temperature. This houseplant prefers temps between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your home or office is set to room temperature, then this plant will be just fine.
Besides the temperature on the thermostat, you need to ensure that your calathea medallion is away from other sources of air that can raise or lower its temperature. For example, a window air conditioning unit, a vent, or even your refrigerator.
The calathea medallion, like the standard calathea, isn’t cold-tolerant. Once the temperatures dip to below 60 degrees, this plant will become distressed. It will also go into heat shock from warm drafts of air or from being left outside on a very hot summer day.
How Much Humidity A Calathea Medallion Prefers
I mentioned before that the calathea medallion loves moisture. That moisture doesn’t only have to come from the water in its pot, but the wetness in the air as well. This houseplant prefers relative humidity of around 50 percent.
The average relative humidity in many homes (and offices) is between 30 and 50 percent. If you’re not sure where your humidity is, I’d recommend investing in a hygrometer.
Water, while evaporating, is cool since the water molecules remove heat energy on the surface in which the evaporation is occurring. Hygrometers include a dry bulb and a wet bulb, the latter of which evaporation occurs. Then it’s just a matter of measuring the temperature on one thermometer versus the other to get the relative humidity.
If your humidity is lower than what the calathea medallion needs, then buy a humidifier with your hygrometer. Misting the plant is too time-consuming, as you’d have to sit with your calathea all day and into the night spritzing warm water at it. A humidifier achieves the same effect but in a much more hands-off way.
A hygrometer is just a fancy name for an instrument that measures the humidity in a room its by assessing the rate of evaporative cooling. Here is a hygrometer with a temperature and humidity sensor you can place in the room where your calathea is growing. This is a newer version on Amazon of the same one I use
I keep mine in a room where I grow a lot of my humidity and temperature sensitive plants. It lives on a shelf that’s the same height as most of the plants so I can get the most accurate temp and humidity levels my plants are growing in.
When to Fertilize A Calathea Medallion & the Mixture to Use
Fertilizer provides a houseplant the nutrients it needs to grow and sustain its growth, so of course the calathea medallion will require fertilizer from time to time. As the active growing season begins in the spring and rolls into the summer, fertilize this houseplant monthly.
The fertilizer you select for your Calathea Medallion should have a balanced amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These three nutrients are expressed as a ratio on the packaging of most fertilizers, such as 6-4-4.
All numbers should be the same for your calathea fertilizer, like 10-10-10.
Since the calathea medallion is a rather sensitive plant, make sure you dilute its fertilizer with water before every application. The fertilizer should be one-fourth as strong as it is right out of the packaging.
If you notice that your plant is looking rather long and leggy during the active growing season, that’s a sign that you need to scale back the fertilizer. In the winter, your calathea will go dormant, so there’s no need to fertilize it.
Calathea Medallion FAQs
How Much Should My Calathea Medallion Grow?
The calathea medallion is about the same size as the standard calathea, so it will grow to a height of around two feet when fully matured. Along the way, you’re going to have to be patient, as the calathea is considered a slow grower.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong.
Avoid over correcting your plant care by watering or fertilizing more frequently, as then you could end up doing more harm than good and possibly end up killing your calathea.
How Often Do I Repot My Calathea Medallion?
Since the calathea medallion plant grows so slowly, you won’t have to repot it too terribly often. The main reason to replant it is to provide fresh soil that’s full of nutrients.
If you repot your calathea once a year, that should be fine. Some indoor gardeners recommend waiting every two years but as I mentioned, it’s going to depend on the quality of the potting mix after a year.
The key is not to transport your houseplants too often, the calathea medallion or any other. Moving your plants is very stressful for them. For a few days after being repotted, your calathea might wilt or shed some leaves. By continuing its regular care, it will bounce back.
When you go to remove your calathea medallion from its pot, grab it by the base and then pull it out. Gripping this plant by its leaves is a great way to tug those leaves right from the stems!
Why Does My Calathea Medallion Bend Its Leaves at Night?
The calathea is also known as the prayer plant, and that nickname comes from an element of this plant’s behavior. Its leaves will raise and then bend after sunset like it’s praying. What’s going on is nyctinasty, a common phenomenon in houseplants.
Nyctinasty influences the calathea to move its leaves as the light recedes. When a plant closes up for the evening, this is due to nyctinasty as well. If you see your calathea medallion bend in nastic movement, take a moment to appreciate it! This is a cool moment to witness.
My Calathea Medallion’s Leaves Are Curling – Why?
Yet there’s a difference between a calathea’s leaves bending in nyctinasty versus curling for other reasons. Curling leaves is a common problem in the calathea medallion that’s attributable to two main issues.
The first is that you’re underwatering your plant. As the moisture in the leaves evaporates, they change shape, curling into delicate spirals. If the leaves are also dry and wrinkled and the plant is drooping, then you need to water it more often.
The second reason your calathea medallion’s leaves may curl is that its light is too bright. The leaves will turn crispy and look wilted. You need to move the calathea ASAP and add a curtain to your window so the plant gets indirect light going forward.
Why Are My Calathea Medallion’s Leaves Brown or Yellow?
Although the calathea medallion comes in a multitude of colors, brown and yellow are not among them. Let’s talk first about leaf yellowing in this plant, then what it means when the calathea’s leaves are brown.
Yellow calathea medallion leaves are a likely sign of an overwatered plant. Around the time this leaf discoloration occurs, death is transpiring among the root system of your houseplant. You need to remove the calathea from its pot to inspect the roots immediately.
When your plant has more white and firm roots than black, mushy ones, you can likely save it. You need to cut away the dead parts of the roots using clean pruning shears.
You should also replace the calathea medallion’s soil since it’s likely waterlogged. Then water the plant only when the top inch of soil is dry.
Brown calathea medallion leaves can be due to these causes.
- Too much exposure to direct light will burn the leaves, causing brown edges and tips.
- Using tap water can also discolor the leaves. The calathea medallion is sensitive to the chemicals in tap water, among them fluoride, chlorine, and salt.
How to Stop Calathea Medallion’s Leaves from Turning Brown?
Do NOT use tap water to water your calathea plant. You can collect rainwater or use pure bottled water to water your calathea. Another option is to buy a water filter. Even a filtered pitcher is fine. As long as you stop using tap water
Will My Calathea Medallion Grow Flowers?
You might have seen photos of the calathea medallion with beautiful flowers in shades of white and pink. That could have been what inspired you to grow this plant in the first place.
The calathea medallion will not grow flowers indoors, nor will the standard calathea. Only in the wild does the calathea seem to sprout beautiful flowers.
Do I Need to Prune My Calathea Medallion?
No, you don’t “need” to prune your calathea. Your calathea isn’t going to die from not pruning it. That said, it’s better to prune your calathea medallion if you want it to thrive.
When it comes to pruning the calathea, it’s more about keeping it free of debri and trimming off the dead or dying parts so that the energy from the roots can be put into growing and supporting the healthy growth of the plant.
When slow growing plants waste time on sending nutrients and energy to already dead or dying parts, it often ends up meaning other areas of the plant suffer to the point where the entire plant becomes jeopardized.
If your calathea medallion plant has withstood discoloration, especially browning, those brown parts won’t return to their former glory. You should trim them off. It’s also good to prune old leaves.
To prune your plant, use clean gardening shears. Trim only the dead or discolored parts of the leaves. If you’re trimming any stems, cut those at a 45-degree angle.
I always recommend pruning a bit, stopping, assessing your progress, and then continuing if need be. As I’ve said before, you can remove extra bits of your plant, but you can’t put the detached parts back on.
Always disinfect your pruning shears when you’re done cutting to avoid spreading plant diseases throughout your indoor garden. When using bleach for disinfecting, the shears only need about 10 minutes in the bleach bath.
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