Calathea Jungle Velvet, also known as Calathea Warscewiczii, is a gorgeous tropical plant that is perfect for growing indoors. It has lovely dark green velvety leaves with lighter green veins. The undersides of the leaves are a rich burgundy color.
To care for your calathea, you should give it plenty of warmth and some humidity. These plants also prefer to grow in moist soil that is free-draining. Adequate bright, indirect light is important to keep your calathea looking its best, as is a light application of fertilizer during its active growing period.
Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your calathea happy and healthy.
How to Care for Calathea Jungle Velvet
As these plants occur naturally in tropical areas, including South America, they have certain specific needs that we should supply for them. The growing conditions that we supply to these plants should resemble their natural environment as closely as possible.
Calatheas need moist soil that is free-draining. A good quality commercial potting mix should work well as long as it’s free-draining. You could also make up your own mix by blending two parts of coco coir with one part of perlite. The coco coir will help to retain moisture, while the perlite will assist in good drainage.
When you imagine these plants living in tropical rainforests, you can understand why they would need bright, indirect light. In these natural environments, calatheas would receive lots of filtered light coming in through the canopy of tall trees.
For this reason, you want to place your calathea in the west, east, or north-facing window. However, you should ensure that the plant is not exposed to direct sunlight as this can easily burn the delicate leaves.
If the only bright spot in your home is near a south-facing window, then ensure that you place your plant a few feet away from the window or cover the window with a sheer curtain to filter any strong sunlight that may come through.
The soil that your calathea is growing in should be kept evenly moist but not waterlogged. For this reason, you should always test the soil before watering your plant. To do this, just poke your finger into the top of the soil. If the top inch of soil is dry, your plant needs some water.
However, if the soil is still moist, you can check the following day again to see if it’s dried out. It’s important to monitor the moisture level in the soil quite often, as your plant should not be allowed to dry out or become waterlogged.
When you water your plant, always add plenty of water so that the excess drains out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. It’s usually better to take your plant to the sink when you do this.
As you will now know, calatheas prefer warm temperatures. Their ideal temperature range is around 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius). These plants can even handle warmer temperatures as long as there is enough humidity in the air.
Once the temperature drops below this ideal, the plant will go into dormancy. The leaves of the plant can also suffer significant damage if the temperature drops too low. For this reason, it’s important to keep your plant away from drafts or areas that suffer sudden temperature changes.
Because they live naturally in rainforests, calatheas do appreciate a higher than normal humidity. In fact, you should aim for an air humidity level of 50% or higher. This can be difficult if your home is constantly heated in winter and you turn on the air conditioning in summer.
However, there are various things that you can do to raise the humidity around your plant.
- Consider keeping your calathea in the bathroom or the kitchen as long as there’s sufficient light. The plant will really appreciate the extra humidity created by running the shower or cooking over the stove.
- Group humid-loving plants together so that they will benefit from each plant’s transpiration process. Make sure, though, that there’s plenty of airflow around each plant.
- Another method that houseplant growers use quite successfully is to fill a large flat tray with river stones or pebbles. Water is then added to the tray to a level just below the top of the pebbles. Then, you just sit your calathea and other humidity-loving plants on top of the pebbles, ensuring that the bottom of the pot is not sitting in the water.
- Invest in a room humidifier if you possibly can.
Calatheas aren’t heavy feeders, but it does help to give them a light application of fertilizer during their growing season. If you use a slow-release fertilizer on your houseplants, this only needs to be applied once a year in springtime.
However, if you prefer to use a liquid feed, you can apply a small amount once a month during the warmer months. Be sure to dilute the fertilizer and only use its quarter strength on your calatheas.
In general, the only pruning that calatheas need is the removal of dead or damaged leaves. To do this, use a pair of sharp secateurs and cut the leaf at the base where it connects to the stem of the plant.
How to Propagate Calathea Jungle Velvet
The most common way to propagate a calathea is by rhizome division. However, this needs to be done carefully because these plants don’t really like having their roots disturbed. Therefore, it’s better to wait until the plant absolutely needs to be repotted. This is best done in spring.
Here are some signs to look out for that let you know your calathea needs repotting:
- The growth has slowed down
- The plant requires watering more often than normal
- It looks like the foliage is too large for the pot that the plant is growing in
Here are the steps to follow to propagate new plants by rhizome division:
- Remove your plant from the pot and use a sharp, clean knife to separate the rhizome into smaller sections. Make sure that each section has a good supply of roots and at least one leaf.
- Plant each of the sections into its own pot. Use the same potting mix that the original plant has been growing in.
- Water each plant and create a humid environment by placing a plant cloche or plastic bag over each pot. You could also use a soft drink bottle with the bottom cut off.
- Place your young plants in a warm, bright spot that is out of direct sunlight.
- Ensure that the soil remains moist by misting your plants occasionally.
- After a few weeks, you should start to see some new growth appearing on the plants.
- When this happens, you can remove the cloche and start caring for your young plants in the same way as the original plant.
Like all houseplants, calatheas can succumb to an infestation of sap-sucking insects such as mealybugs, scale, and spider mites.
To treat these pests, you can dab them with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. For heavier infestations, spray your plant with a mixture of insecticidal soap and water.