An important factor in determining the suitability of a plant to your home and envisioning the care it will need, is to know the origin of the plant. Plants that are native to desert regions will require substantial amount of sunlight and loose, fast-draining soil. Plants from the floor of a rainforest will need some protection from strong sunlight and generous humidity.
Calathea is just such a tropical plant that needs high humidity and protection from strong sun. Think of the leafy filtering of light in a rainforest and the clouds of warm, wet air. Originating in the humid forests of South America, C. ornata features leaves with pale pink striations that become white with age and purple undersides. C. lancifolia has spear-shaped leaves that grow to over a foot long with wavy margins and strong dark markings. These stunning plants need careful care and are suitable for a terrarium
The exceptional leaf color fades in the sun, so keep plants in partial shade, for instance, a shady window or protected from the strongest light by a sheer curtain.
Keep moist with tepid water at all times. Reduce watering in winter. Plants need consistent humidity. Use a pebble tray or mist daily at a minimum. Placement in a terrarium or use of a humidifier will enhance results. Hard water is not recommended and will leave mineral deposits on leaves. Rainwater is ideal.
Average household temperatures are fine but avoid sudden changes; keep above 60°F.; in temperatures above the low 70's be aware of even greater humidity needs.
In spring, every one or two years, in a peat-based mixture or standard soil-based potting mixture with some added peat moss and or leaf mold.
Standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing period (March through September).
Humidity and protection from sun are the keys to success with these plants. If leaf tips brown or leaves fall, it is probably because the plant lacks humidity. Discolored, scorched leaves mean too much sunlight. Both can be fatal and should be corrected immediately.