What’s special about this calathea? The clue is in the name. Give your calathea’s leaves a gentle stroke and they’ll feel soft and velvety. Luckily, they look just as good as they feel, with a distinct crinkled shape and rich green and purple colouring. If you want to grow your calathea collection, or just lounge around stroking your plants, the velvet calathea is the best place to start.
This particular plant is native to Brazil, where you’ll find it growing in the shade of big trees in tropical rainforests. Like almost all other calathea, its leaves curl up at night, then unfurl in the morning to catch all the rays they can. One of its nicknames is prayer plant, because the curled leaves look like praying hands.
When looking after your prayer plant, think ‘jungle’. It’s used to dappled light, so it doesn’t like direct sun. If it gets too much sun, its colourful leaves will fade and become dull. Rainforest-like humidity will keep your prayer plant looking its best, so mist yours every few days or pop it in a bright bathroom.
For a really cheery velvet calathea, use filtered water. It’s sensitive to the chlorine that’s often found in tap water, so if you haven’t got a water filter, leave tap water to stand in a watering can overnight. Chlorine and other minerals will evaporate away. This plant will enjoy a feed with liquid fertiliser once a month in spring and summer. Show it some love and it will pop out gorgeous new leaves in no time.
Did you know?
New leaves will be light green, turning to dark green as they grow and mature.