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Calathea, also known as a prayer plant or Peacock plant, produces vibrant, lush green foliage and is fast becoming a popular houseplant. If you have discovered one of these plants and have decided to try your hand at caring for one, we will break down just how to keep this plant healthy. Many home gardeners want to know what kind of fertilizer you should be using on this beauty.
You will want to fertilize your Calathea during the spring and summer months. This is their growing period. The best formulation to use is a balanced all-purpose fertilizer.
Gardening experts recommend either a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 on the NPK ratio for best results with your Calathea. NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.
Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth and size. Phosphorus aids in energy transfer, germination, and flower production, while Potassium is critical for the growth and health of the plant.
Here are eight balanced, high-quality all-purpose fertilizers for use with your Calathea:
- Jack’s Classic All Purpose 20-20-20 with micronutrients
- EZ-gro 20-20-20 Fertilizer Concentrated liquid
- Schultz All Purpose Plant Food
- Bonide Liquid Plant Food
- Lilly Miller All Purpose Planting and Growing Food
- Southern AG All Purpose Granular Fertilizer
- Schultz Plant Food Plus
- Miracle Grow Indoor Plant Food
Calathea’s are herbaceous, neotropical perennials. They are known as a prayer plant due to the daily leave movements they undertake, moving them upwards at nighttime and fanning out during daylight hours. We’ve done all the research on these beautiful plants, so continue reading to find out just how to fertilize and care for these wonderful houseplants.
Best Fertilizers For Calathea
1. Jack’s Classic All Purpose 20-20-20 With Micronutrients
Jack’s Classic is a known favorite among gardeners. It is a balanced fertilizer for both indoor and outdoor plants. It is said to be especially effective on foliage plants like Calathea, maintaining their bright, vibrant leaves.
2. EZ- Gro 20-20-20 Fertilizer Concentrated Liquid
This professional fertilizer is both easy to mix and easy to use. It is water-soluble and has iron, copper, manganese, and zinc to prevent any mineral deficiencies in your plants.
3. Schultz All Purpose Plant Food
This is a fast-acting, water-soluble, all-purpose plant food that is a 20-20-20 on the NPK ratio. It is an ideal fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants, making it a perfect choice for Calathea.
4. Bonide Liquid Plant Food
Bonide has been a gardening staple since the 1920s. This balanced fertilizer is explicitly designed for houseplants and promotes healthy growth and easy feeding while watering!
5. Lilly Miller All Purpose Planting and Growing Food
This fertilizer has a slow-release formula for steady long-term growth in your plants. It is a balanced 10-10-10 on the NPK ratio.
6. Southern AG All Purpose Granular Fertilizer
This is a balanced 10-10-10 granular formula designed to be spread evenly over the surface of the soil and then watered in for continuous feeding over time.
7. Schultz Plant Food Plus
This is a 10-15-10 formulation but is very well known in the gardening community and proven effective. You simply add seven drops per quart of water and water your plant!
8. Miracle Grow Indoor Plant Food
This convenient fertilizer is already diluted in the bottle for you for utmost ease of use! If you’d like, you can still dilute further with your watering can or use this straight out of the bottle.
It comes with a convenient pump, and you simply apply one pump directly to the soil for small houseplant pots or two pumps for larger plants. This does require a more frequent application of once a week.
How often should I fertilize Calathea?
Calathea needs regular monthly or weekly feeding during the growing season. This can be cut back to once every three months during the fall and winter months. You will always want to follow the manufacturer’s directions of the fertilizer you choose.
How do you put fertilizer on Calathea?
This will depend on the fertilizer you decide to go with. Most gardening experts recommend choosing an all-purpose fertilizer that is either 10-10-10 on the NPK ratio or 20-20-20 on the NPK, which is water-soluble.
If you are using a water-soluble fertilizer, you will simply follow the manufacturers’ directions by mixing the appropriate amount of fertilizer in water and feeding the plant with the mix.
If using a granular fertilizer, it can either be blended into the soil or spread on the top of the soil’s surface. Once watered, this fertilizer is adding minerals and nutrients to your plant.
Here is a helpful video showing how to use water-soluble fertilizer drops.
Signs of over-fertilization
If you see any of these characteristics with your Calathea, this is a sign of over-fertilization.
- Yellowing of leaves.
- Browning leaf tips and ends.
- Wilted or damaged leaves.
- Very slow to no growth.
- A crust on the surface of the soil.
If you notice these signs, you will want to remove the damaged foliage and then leach the soil with water to rid it of the excess fertilizer. You can do this by placing the pot in a sink or outside to water it excessively and allow the water to drain out of the soil. You can also take a shovel or a spoon and remove the excess fertilizer on the surface of the soil, then replacing with new soil.
How do you make Calathea grow faster?
For a faster growth rate, make sure you meet all your Calathea’s needs. Hydrating the plant properly, placing the plant in indirect sunlight, and fertilizing. If you meet all these needs, your Calathea should reach its height maturity within about one year and remain strong and lush.
Does Calathea like coffee grounds?
Coffee grounds provide nitrogen, which is essential for leaf growth and size. They also provide Ammonium and nitrates. You can either mix the coffee grounds with your mulch or place it directly on top of it or mix it into the soil.
There is not much information on whether or not Calathea responds well to coffee grounds, but they prefer more acidic soil. However, if you notice your plant reacting poorly, then put a halt to fertilizing with the grinds. Coffee grounds should not be used on seedlings.
How often should I water Calathea?
The Calathea plant comes from a neotropical region. It prefers moist soil at all times. However, it does not thrive in an overwatered environment, so watering can sometimes be tricky.
You will want to water your Calathea in small increments daily during the growing season (Spring and Summer). You will want to monitor the surface soil of your plant frequently, and if you notice the soil has dried, you will want to water immediately.
Should you mist a Calathea?
If you live in a dry climate with your Calathea or run your central A/C frequently, your Calathea can benefit from a regular misting. This would be once or twice per day. However, misting your Calathea can deter a spider mite infestation.
This most likely won’t suffice if you are looking to boost your plant’s ambient humidity. Using a pebble tray filled with water under the plant is much more helpful if looking to increase the local ambient humidity for the plant.
There are many fertilizers on the market that work for the Calathea plant. As long as you pick a well-balanced formula and monitor your plant for any changes over time, you should have no problem fertilizing this gorgeous plant.
The Calathea plant can require more maintenance than other houseplants, but many gardeners will say they are well worth the extra work. They purify the air, look gorgeous, and are pet-friendly. Following the steps in this guide should ensure your plants are lush and healthy.
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