If you’re interested in unique-looking plants, you must be familiar with Calatheas or prayer plant. These plants get their name because of their interesting and unique leaf movements that resemble hands that are lifted in prayer as the sun goes down.
One uncommon but undeniably variety of this specie is the Calathea Louisae. If your plant is healthy and happy, you will see bright yellow and green foliage with purple color on the backside of the leaves. It is famously known as Thai beauty and is grown across the globe.
This specie of calathea is pet-friendly and can be found in different countries, but it is native to the Brazilian rainforest. And as you can expect its growing conditions there are hot and humid. So to make sure your plant thrives, you need to replicate these conditions.
To help you out, we’ve mentioned everything you need to know.
Overview of Caring for Calathea Louisae
Since this species of Calathea comes from the Brazilian rainforest, it is important that you recreate the climatic conditions of the tropical jungle. You should know that humidity in the forest is very high and the temperature is always over 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make sure it survives, you need to provide rich nutrient to the soil, a sufficient amount of indirect sunlight, and frequent watering. You also need to be wary of fungal diseases and thrips since these are the most common enemies of this plant.
Needs of Calathea Louisae
From light and water to soil and fertilizer, here’s what you need to know about caring for the Thai beauty:
Whether you decide to grow this calathea in a greenhouse or inside your home, it’s important that you find the right place for it. You should also not move this plant from one place to the other too frequently.
In the wild, these plants grow under the shade of very tall trees, but they still get a good amount of sunlight. So if you decide to grow this plant indoors, make sure you create similar conditions. Remember that it thrives in indirect sunlight and partial shade even though it’s a tropical plant. In fact, it cannot handle direct sunlight; the leaves tend to turn brown and curl up if the plant is kept under direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours.
We recommend growing the Thai beauty on east or west window sills with translucent curtains to avoid direct sunlight. While it is primarily an indoor plant, you can also grow it outside in your garden depending on the climate zone you live in.
Temperature & Humidity
It’s not easy to create the subtropical or tropical conditions that these plants prefer, but you can replicate as much as possible. In other words, you can create a balanced environment, with high humidity and warm temperature conditions.
This plant can’t tolerate cold weather. In fact, anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit can kill it. The ideal temperature for it is between 65 and 85 degrees. You should also note that the temperatures in the plant’s natural habitat don’t fluctuate much around the year, which means you also need to create comfortable and stable conditions. Temperature fluctuations can cause the leaves to dry out or it can make the plant a victim of spider mites and dry air. So while minor fluctuations of 2-4 degrees aren’t harmful, you should try and keep the temperatures relatively stable throughout the day.
As mentioned earlier, balance is important for the Thai beauty. So the warmer you keep your house, the higher should be the moisture level. Remember that humidity levels in the Brazilian rainforests are extremely high and go up to 90%.
And while these conditions are difficult to maintain at home, especially since high humidity can be harmful to you, you can still keep your calathea satisfied with a few tips.
You can spray lukewarm water (or use a mister) around your plant multiple times a day. But remember to be careful. You shouldn’t directly spray the leaves since excessive moisture on the leaves can lead to fungal infections. You can also take a slightly damp cloth and wipe the plant’s leaves with it.
The Thai beauty loves wet soil and regular watering. Here, you need to be careful – the soil shouldn’t be murky or over-watered; otherwise, you risk infections. It might sound tricky to determine when to water your Calathea Louisae but it’s actually pretty easy. You just need to keep track of the leaves’ condition.
To maintain a balanced environment, you should frequently water the plant to maintain moisture. At the same time, you should also allow the soil to breathe. In the summer, when the temperatures are high, you should water the plant every 2-3 days. In the winters, when your plant is dormant, you should water it more frequently. Ideally, you should water it every other day but you should cut back on the amount of water.
While calatheas love both moisture and humidity, they don’t like to drown. This is why you should make sure to use a pot with a lot of drainage holes to let the soil breathe. The drainage holes should always be open and clear; if the plant’s roots stay in stagnant water, it can cause root rot and brown spots to develop on the leaves, which is a sign of overwatering.
You should also avoid pouring water on the leaves; instead, pour a good amount directly into the soil. Excessive water on the leaves can turn them yellow or lead to fungal problems.
If you don’t water it every 2-3 days, the soil can dry out more than the plant can handle, causing the leaves to lose their color and turn crunchy at the edges.
Another important tip when it comes to caring for your Thai beauty is the kind of water you use. Since calatheas are very sensitive to minerals present in tap water, it’s better that you use filtered or boiled water. Note that chlorine can be fatal for the plant.
Soil & fertilizer
As is true with nearly all plants, the health and quality of the Thai beauty also depends on the kind of soil you use. It loves loose, rich, and wet soil that is dense and firm enough to support the roots but also ensures good airflow. Lack of sufficient oxygen can lead to root issues, which can ultimately be very damaging to the whole plant. If you think that your soil is too dense, you can add perlite with peat or sand to your chosen mix.
People usually turn to a ready-made potting mixture, but in the case of Calathea Louisae, it’s better that you prepare your own mix. Ideally, it should include sand, peat, and leafy soil. You can also add in coco coir, pine needles, larch, fir, dry manure, charcoal, and pieces of bark. The resulting mixture will contain sufficient nutrients and be loose and well-draining. It will also resemble very airy leafy soil. Ideally, the solid should have a pH of 6.5 and a low amount of fluoride.
You should also place a drainage layer made of expanded clay in the pot.
In addition, while fertilizing the plant isn’t necessary, it can help it grow as tall as 30 inches and produce healthy leaves that reach up to 4 inches wide and 8 inches long. If you decide to fertilize your plant, make sure to do so every two weeks during periods of flowering and growth, which are from March to September. In the cold winter and autumn months, you can fertilize your plants once every six weeks.
However, if you have a damaged, infected, sick, or dormant plant, you shouldn’t apply fertilizer. Leaves turning yellow or drying out are signs of lack of minerals, and if that happens with your plant, you should regularly apply a top-dressing.
Both a lack of fertilizer and excess of it are harmful to the plant, so you need to be very careful. Overfeeding the plants can also make the leaves yellow with brown edges.
When it comes to the Calathea Louisae, you should use a lime-free fertilizer that contains a few organic nutrients. Also make sure that it contains the three most important nutrients for the plant: potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen.
How to Propagate Calathea Louisae
Dividing your Calathea Louisae is the easiest way to propagate them. The best time to do so is autumn and spring when conditions are also favorable for transplanting. If you’ve never propagated a calathea or any plant for that matter, there’s nothing for you to worry about. It’s very easy, even for beginners. Here’s what you need to do:
- Carefully remove your calathea plant from the pot while making sure that its roots stay intact.
- Once you take it out, find points where the plant has naturally created some separation and gently divide the roots from there. Make sure your cutting has clumps of the root and at least a stem with leaves.
- Now, place your new plant into a separate pot filled with fresh soil mixture. Make sure the soil mix is similar to what you’ve used for the parent plant and has fresh organic nutrients.
It’ll take a few weeks for the young plant to form roots and spread. Like with its parent, make sure you keep the young Calathea Louisae in a humid and warm environment with temperatures around 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Potting & Pruning Calathea Louisae
You should repot young calatheas every spring. When the plant matures enough and turns four, you can transplant it every 2 years.
Transplanting is also not a hard process, provided that you follow these tips:
- Before getting started, make sure you have a pot slightly larger than your current one. Remember, it should have drainage holes. We recommend choosing terracotta or clay pots.
- These plants have strong roots, and you need to thoroughly shake off the old soil so that the root system can establish in fresh and clean soil.
- Try to keep the roots in the middle of the pot and water the plant regularly to encourage it to re-establish itself.
Even though this plant has subtle flowers, pruning it regularly can give it the energy it needs to blossom. It can also save your plant in case it has been infected by a disease.
Pests & Problems with Calathea Louisae
Preventative care can make the Calathea Louisae resistant to pests and diseases while neglect can lead to numerous problems. You should also know that herbal infusions can encourage and strengthen the plant. With that said, here are some common problems and pests that can attack your Thai beauty:
Fungal diseases usually develop in hot and humid environments and low temperatures when the plant is over-watered. Over-watering can also result in thrips and root rot.
One example of fungal disease is the fungus Rhizoctonia, which can damage the leaves. Fungal infections also inhibit the plant’s ability to grow.
If you spot a fungal disease on your plant, make sure you repot it in fresh soil treated with fungicide and cut off the damaged roots and plants.
Numerous insects can target your Calathea Louisae without you realizing it. One such example of this is thrips. These insects usually hide on the leaves’ underside and suck out the contents. As a result, white spots start to form on the leaves’ surface that eventually dry out and give way to holes.
The easiest way to keep these dangerous insects at bay is by ensuring sufficient ventilation and avoiding over-watering. If you find thrips on your plant, apply insecticidal soap on the underside of the infected leaves until they die. You can also use horticultural oil for this purpose.
Apart from thrips, your plant can also fall victim to spider mites, especially in low humidity. Like thrips, these insects can also hide on the underside of the leaves. They can also cause the leaves to dry out. But if you notice them on time and get rid of them, you won’t have any issues.
To deal with spider mites, increase the humidity in the room and apply neem oil. You can also spray these insects with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide thrice a day.
So we hope this ultimate Calathea Louisae plant care guide covers essential information and tips. Do share your learnings with us in the comments and learn from our ever growing list of amazing plant care guides.