San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Shade-loving Calatheas Make Nice Indoor Ornamentals

Tropical foliage plants can be among your best choices for decorating around the home, and Costa Rica has dozens of varieties from which to choose.

Among the foliage plants, calatheas stand out high on the list of beautiful indoor ornamentals.

Also known as marantas, these hardy herbaceous perennials are native to the American tropics and can be distinguished by their thin, erect stems and sheathing leaves with appealing markings and patterns of lines, blotches and spots.

Leading nurseries around the country offer a wide selection of calatheas, and it’s fun to create a collection to decorate the home. These plants do well as potted plants indoors, in areas of reduced light, and add a cooling appearance to any room. They blend well with other plants, such as ferns and shade-loving ornamentals. Best of all, they are easy to care for in the home or office, since they are practically pest and disease free.

Calatheas are planted in rich, fertile potting soil with good drainage. When transplanting, be sure to plant them at the same level of the root crown and use coarse gravel at the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage and aeration. These plants should be watered several times a week to maintain good humidity and can be fertilized several times a year with a liquid-soluble organic fertilizer applied to the soil.

As with most houseplants, clean dust off the leaves periodically with a soft, moist cloth. You can propagate new plants by dividing the root clump of older plants that have become root-bound in their pots.

Carefully pull apart the root ball until you have several newly divided plants, and then transplant them to new pots. Keep them well watered and in the shade until they recover from the shock of transplanting.

These plants may occasionally have mites, but they can be controlled with a soapy water solution. Pests usually appear when your plants are suffering from lack of proper nutrient intake, so be sure to feed them regularly with natural fertilizers and change your plants to new pots before they become root-bound.

It’s remarkable how any home can be converted into a palace with the use of ornamental plants. Why not take advantage of Mother Nature’s plants to beautify your home this year?


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