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Calathea Makoyana Care Explained…Once and for All!

Calathea Makoyana Care Explained…Once and for All!

It is difficult to imagine more beautifully patterned plant than the Calathea “Makoyana”. It is called Peacock Plant or Cathedral Windows for a good reason. 

This Calathea’s pale green ten-inch long leaves are covered in thin darker lines and large dark green ovals that form a feather-like pattern. Turn the leaf over and all those patterns are pink-purple.

Add to that its upright, dense growth of up to two feet, Calathea “Makoyana” is royalty among Calatheas. 

Calathea “Makoyana” is highly desirable, difficult to find, and not easy to care for.

This East Brazil native belongs to the genus Calathea in the family Marantaceae and needs a very particular environment. It is not a plant for beginners.

 


 

Calathea Makoyana Care

Calathea “Makoyana” needs bright indirect light and consistent warmth, with the temperature that ranges between 65 and 85°F (18-30°C) and never drops below 61 °F (16 °C). It requires high humidity of 60 percent or more, consistently moist and well-draining soil. It should be fertilized every two weeks from April to October with diluted fertilizer slightly higher in nitrogen. A balanced fertilizer works as well. 
 

Soil

Calathea “Makoyana” requires soil that holds moisture well but drains freely. A mix of two parts peat and one part of coarse sand or perlite works well. 

You can use a soil mix for African violets, or any commercial peaty mix to which you have to add one-third of coarse matter –sand, pine bark, perlite, or coconut coir.

You can replace about ten percent of peat moss with compost. Compost will enrich the soil with nutrients and you will not have to fertilize your Calathea until the next repotting.

Compost retains water as well as peat, so it is important not to overdo it with too much compost or the soil will become soggy.

 

Watering

Keeping the soil of this Calathea moist at all times without its roots sitting in water takes a bit of practice. You cannot water it according to some particular schedule.

It is the key to keeping your Calathea healthy and thriving, so following simple rules for its watering is important. 

To provide your “Makoyana” with just the right amount of water, you will need to develop a habit of touching the soil with your fingers every few days and water it only if the first inch or so is dry.

If you wait too long, your plant will suffer from a lack of water. If you water it while the soil is still moist, you run the danger of root rot.   

Water your Calathea “Makoyana” with rain or filtered water. It can suffer from fluoride toxicity or accumulate other minerals commonly found in tap water.
 

Light

The Calathea “Makoyana” is a tropical perennial from the Brazilian tropical forest. It is used to the shade of large trees and indirect, filtered light. To make your Calathea happy, you will have to recreate this kind of light at your home.

Find the right spot in your home with bright indirect sunlight. North or east-facing windows are the best. Direct sun will burn the leaves and too little light will slow its growth. Finding the right balance is the key. 

If you want to keep your “Makoyana” in the room with too much direct light, place the plant away from the window, shield it with light curtains, or place it behind other plants that tolerate more light.

You will know that your Calathea is getting too much light if its gorgeous patterns start fading away and its tips start getting brown.

If it is not getting enough light, the leaves will grow smaller, the patterns will be less vivid or the leaves will grow apart from each other.

 

Temperature

It is crucial for your tropical Calathea that the temperature remains constant. The ideal temperature should be between 65 and 85°F (18-30°C) and should never drop below 61 °F (16 °C). Avoid cold drafts.

 

Humidity

Creating an environment with high humidity for your Calathea “Makoyana” is as important for its continuous health as consistent temperature and indirect bright light. You need to provide humidity of 60 percent or higher.

If you keep a humidifier in the room where your Calathea lives, you can easily control its humidity. If not, you can place the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. 

It is also a good idea to group Calatheas and other plants that love high humidity. They will create a micro-climate that will work for all of them. 

You will know that your Calathea is not getting enough humidity when its leaf tips turn brown.

Misting the leaves of Calathea “Makoyana” is not raising the humidity enough and puts your plant in danger of developing a reddish-brown leaf spot caused by bacteria.
 

Fertilizer

It is recommended to feed your Calathea every two to three weeks during its active growth. You can use chemical or organic fertilizer.
 

Chemical fertilizer

Calathea “Makoyana” requires a high nitrogen fertilizer to avoid brown spots on the leaves or fading of its remarkable patterns. A fertilizer of NPK 3-1-2 is ideal. Too much phosphorus would create brown spots on leaves.

“Makoyana” is sensitive to too much fertilizer so dilute it to half or quarter of its recommended strength. 

Consistent fertilizing with chemical fertilizer will create an accumulation of salts in the soil. It is a good idea to leach the soil every few months.

Water your Calathea before applying fertilizer or you will burn the roots. Do not fertilize at all in winter when the plant grows slowly.
 

Organic fertilizer

If you prefer organic fertilizer, there are commercial organic liquid fertilizers available. You can also make your own.

You can add compost to the soil mix at the repotting time and provide your Calathea with the organic slow-release fertilizer. You will not need to fertilize at all until the next repotting. 

The disadvantage of this method is that you do not have any control over how much of each nutrient is your plant getting.

Compost is highly water-retaining so if you add too much, you might make your soil too soggy. You have to replace the same amount of peat with compost. 

If you want to make liquid organic fertilizer, fill half a bucket with compost and add an equal amount of water. After a few days, you will get a “compost tea”, a perfect organic balanced fertilizer. It is a good idea to dilute it by half. 

 

Repotting

The best time to repot Calathea “Makoyana” is in spring and fall, every two years, or when you see that the pot is full of roots. Use a pot one size larger than the old one.

Remove the old soil and cut off any damaged roots. Place the plant in its new pot and fill it with fresh soil.

Water your Calathea thoroughly and give it extra humidity and less light for a while until it recovers from repotting and you see the new growth. 

 

Pruning

Calathea “Makoyana” does not require much pruning. Just remove damaged and old leaves. Pinch the new growth back to encourage your Calathea’s compact growth.

 

Propagation

When your Calathea “Makoyana” grows big enough, you will want to propagate it. Like other Calatheas, “Makoyana” is propagated by root division.

The natural time to do this is during repotting, ideally in spring when the plant is waking up and getting ready for active growth.

Look for the natural separation of roots and separate them with their attached leaves. Plant each new Calathea in its own pot. Ensure that they have extra high humidity to recover from the traumatic procedure.

 

Blooms

Calathea “Makoyana” blooms, but infrequently and its flowers are nothing to brag about.  You might see small white flowers growing between pale green bracks. They might show any time of the year on sufficiently mature plants.

 

Growth

A mature Calathea “Makoyana” can reach two feet. It grows intensively from March to October. It significantly slows down in winter. 

To thrive, this Calathea needs consistently moist soil, without its roots ever getting wet. You need to let the top inch of soil to dry out before watering your plant.

High humidity is also crucial for Calathea “Makoyana’s” good health. It enjoys an occasional warm shower. You can use a soft hose attachment or actually place your Calathea under the shower.

The humidity of more than 60 percent is so important for this Calathea that it is a good idea to invest in a humidifier.

“Makoyana’s” new leaves appear rolled, showing their pink-purple undersides. The effect, mixed with green intensely patterned leaves, is spectacular.

Like other “prayer plants” from the marantaceae family, Calathea “Makoyana” has leaves that raise in the morning and lower at night.

 

Common Problems with Calathea Moyakana

Calathea “Makoyana” is fairly resistant to plant issues, as long as it has great growing conditions. 

If it does not have high humidity, your Calathea might get attacked by the red spider mites.

 

Spider mites

Spider mites will eat holes in the leaves and turn the tips of the leaves your Calathea brown. You have to catch them before you have a serious infestation on your hands. They can kill your Calathea.

Check your Calathea regularly for the sticky residue or fine webbing, the signs of spider mites. They are often difficult to spot, they are so tiny. 

There are a few options for dealing with them:

  1. Shower your Calathea or hose it down with gentle spray. Water might dislodge all mites.
  2. Wash each leaf with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.
  3. Spray the plant with water mixed with a dishwashing detergent.
  4. Spray your Calathea “Makoyana” with neem oil. It is an effective plant-based insecticide.
  5. Introduce beneficial insects such as lacewings, thrips, and ladybugs.  They will gobble up all existing pests.

 

Root Rot

Your Calathea “Makoyana” can suffer from root rot if overwatered or its soil is not free-draining. It is easy to avoid by using good soil and by watering only when the top of the soil is dry. It is much more difficult to cure.

When the plant is overwatered, it prevents oxygen from being available to roots. It also encourages soil fungi such as pythium, rhizoctonia, phytophthora, or fusarium fungi, which spread into the roots, infecting plants. 

Rotting roots cannot provide the plant with nutrients so the leaves start turning yellow and dropping. Root rot is difficult to spot until it is too late because the problem is underground.

You can try to save your plant by taking it out of the pot and cutting off all rotten roots. Repot it in free-draining soil and hope that there are enough healthy roots left to make your Calathea recover.
 

Pseudomonas Leaf Spot

Pseudomonas leaf spot is another problem you might encounter with your Calathea. It is caused by a bacteria called pseudomonas, which causes reddish-brown spots on the Calathea leaves. Leaves also might get distorted.

Leaf spot bacteria gets transmitted from other infected plants, by the droplets of the water on leaves. Treat your Calathea with a copper-based anti-bacterial and cut off the damaged leaves.
 

Tips for growing Calathea “Makoyana”

  • The humidity of more than 60 percent is necessary for Calathea “Makoyana”. Invest in a humidifier and if that is not possible, get a cheap hygrometer, a  device for measuring humidity.
  • Calathea “Makoyana” requires a consistently warm temperature. Do not shock it with sudden temperature changes.
  • Check your Calathea frequently for pests. If you catch the bugs in time, they are much easier to eliminate.
  • Calathea “Makoyana” requires consistently moist soil. Water it thoroughly when the top inch of the soil is dry.
  • Keep your Calathea in bright, indirect light. Too little light is better than too much.


Frequently Asked Questions about Calathea “Makoyana” care 

 

Is Calathea “Makoyana” toxic?

No part of Calathea “Makoyana” is toxic to humans or pets. 
 

Does my Calathea “Makoyana” like to be misted?

Misting is not the best way of increasing the humidity for your Calathea. Place a humidifier in the room where you keep your plant, group it with other humidity-loving plants, or place it on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Misting might encourage the bacterial disease that causes leaf spot.
 

Does Calathea “Makoyana” need sunlight?

Your Calathea is native to a tropical jungle, where it grows under the canopy of large trees. Provide your plant with bright, indirect, diffused light. North or east-oriented windows are the best.

 

Conclusion

Calathea “Makoyana” is royalty among Calatheas, for its spectacularly patterned leaves and pink-purple underside. Gardeners consider it a bit of a diva because of its strict environmental requirements.

Your “Makoyana” needs consistently moist soil that is free-draining, so the roots do not sit in water. This Calathea is sensitive to root rot

The humidity of over 60 percent is necessary for Calathea “Makoyana” to thrive. A consistently warm environment is crucial.

Watering of “Makoyana” is tricky because the soil has to be consistently moist but not overwatered. Checking the soil with fingers and letting the top inch of the soil dry is the key to proper watering.

Even with all these strict requirements, it is possible to grow a happy, beautiful Calathea “Makoyana” with just a bit of extra care and love. The results are well worth it.

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