Calatheas are houseplants with beautiful colors and patterned leaves. You might find one in all the houses of indoor plant lovers. They have unique behavior, i.e., the leaves tend to point up in the night, as if folding up for praying. But if they fold up all time, it becomes a problem.
So, in this article, we shall learn why are your calathea leaves pointing up all the time and how you can fix the same.
Insufficient watering and inadequate lighting conditions are two primary causes of leaves pointing up in a calathea plant. Try to adjust the watering schedule so that the soil remains moist but not soggy at all times. Also, move the plant to medium bright light and improve the humidity.
If your Calathea is pointing up at night, then it’s okay. But, if it remains in the same position throughout the day, you need to fix it. This article will help and guide you to know why your Calathea is always pointing up and how you can bring it back to its regular movements.
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Two common phenomena in Calathea
There are two common behaviors found in Calathea:
- Opening of leaves in the morning.
- Closing of the leaves at night
These are seen in all the Calathea plants. They are also known as prayer plants because their leaves closing up at night resembles praying. This behavior is also called nyctinasty.
Other than these, their leaves keep moving all day, depending on the light movements. They move their leaves all through 24 hours.
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Why are Calathea leaves pointing up?
The main reason behind Calathea leaves pointing upwards is because they are praying. This happens during the night. This behavior is entirely regular in them.
Other than this, if the Calatheas point up during the daytime, it is not usual. When their leaves remain upright in the day, it tells you that you have probably done something wrong in them.
Maybe they are getting too much light, or no light or something is done inaccurately in watering. Let’s find out all the reasons.
The most common and specific reason behind Calatheas pointing upwards is their nyctinasty behavior.
The movement in the Calathea leaves gets triggered due to a flesh joint at the leaf base that fills up moisture or empties the water for expanding and contracting. This movement, however, gets affected by the different light levels and water conditions.
The leaves of Calatheas constantly adjust themselves all day according to the different light movements. That is why you will see them moving up and down throughout the day.
But the one dramatic and sudden change in their movement you will find is when the sun sets in.
At dusk, when darkness arrives, they point up their leaves in a vertical position for praying. This behavior is called nyctinasty. When the leaves point up, you can see the beautiful rosy colors underneath the leaves.
They have an exceptional organ named pulvinus. Pulvinus is a tube having thin-walled cells which can abruptly intake or release the water, causing it to swell and shrink dramatically. This organ is located in the leaf base.
Some plants are phototropic as they tend to adjust their position according to the sun, and their growing manners are quite different.
But in nyctinasty, the movement changes according to the intensity of light and not direction. Moreover, Calatheas are not habituated to direct sunlight. Thus they focus on intensity.
Some say that closing the Calathea leaves is meant to increase the plant’s surviving capability more. Closing of the leaves helps the plant to avoid loss of moisture through evaporation.
Instead, the water gets retained and used in the soil in the form of water droplets, avoiding underwatering.
Calatheas grow under the canopies of tall trees and thrive under indirect, filtered sunlight.
When they get too much sunlight, it can fade their leaf patterns and scorch the leaves, causing brown patches and sunburn on them.
When the leaves point upwards, it seems like the plant is protecting itself from the sun’s direct rays. They will enjoy growing more in filtered light than under the direct sun.
Constant receiving of excessive light will make the Calathea leaves point up all the time.
The rule is to give them bright but filtered sunlight. If you have placed your Calathea plant too close to the window sill, you should move them a few feet back, away from the window.
You can use transparent curtains, Venetian blinds, or window films to protect them from direct sunlight. These materials will give your plant bright and filtered sunlight.
You can place your Calathea in a north or east-facing window. This will also give your plant bright sunlight, but not harsh. This direction can give the same intensity like filtered, soft sunlight and save your precious Calathea from getting sunburnt.
Too little light
Calatheas have nyctinasty behavior in them. In this behavior, the plant will open 20 minutes after they get the day’s first sunlight. Again, the leaves will close in the dusk and point up after the sun sets in.
Calatheas can tolerate low light doesn’t mean that you should keep them in a dark room.
They will need an ample quantity of bright filtered sunlight for thriving. Unless they get enough light required, they will not open up.
Moreover, as I said earlier, the plant moves its leaves according to the intensity of illumination.
So, if they don’t get enough light, they will not receive that intensity, and thus until they receive light, their leaves will not get ready to open widely.
So, make sure they receive enough light. If the sunlight intensity is relatively low on any day than the plant needs, you can use grow lights to provide them with their required amount of light.
But, don’t put the light too close or else they will again not open up.
Maintain a distance of about 6 to 12 inches in between the Calathea plant and the grow light. Use a LED light. They are very energetic and will give your Calathea enough light with an ideal intensity.
A light having automatic timing will be much better. You need to set the timing, and light will do the rest.
Keep it on for 6 to 8 hours and then off. If they don’t receive any additional light, then keep it on for 12 hours.
You can change their location and shift them to a bright room too. But do this change gradually. Start with small timings and then slowly increase the time.
Place them near an east or north-facing window. They tend to provide bright and soft sunlight.
When the plant receives water the first time in a day, it remains pointed up. But that doesn’t last for long. They remain upright for a few hours. Again, later on, the leaves start coming back to their usual place.
When you water a plant, it tends to increase water pressure inside the leaves. Due to this, the plant starts standing up because of the pressure.
This happens because of the presence of pulvinus, which is responsible for water intake, for which they swell and shrink. Once they get accustomed, they come back to normal.
This happens especially when the plant is thirsty. They like to stand on consistently and evenly moist soil. Also, they hate being on soggy soil.
You need to water the plant every week when the top 1 inch of the soil dries up.
Don’t keep the soil thirsty. In some circumstances, the soil might need a little more water.
So, keeping the soil moisture in check will help you to understand when to water them. This will help avoid both underwatering and overwatering. Don’t keep the soil dry for prolonged periods.
Stress due to change of environment
When a plant is recently re-potted or has faced a sudden change in its environment or growing conditions, it will be stressed. Out of stress, the plant can behave in a way that is never predictable.
Sometimes, the leaves can change their color, or the leaves will either deny closing at night or deny opening up in the morning.
In circumstances where the Calatheas are getting every requirement adequately, it is frustrating to see them under stress and not aware of the reason.
In a moment where Calatheas don’t open up their leaves at all, think about when you transplanted them. If repotting is done recently, the leaves pointing upwards for a couple of days result from that.
Buying a new plant and bringing it home will also stress the plant. They will face a change by getting transferred from one place to another. This sudden change might also cause your Calathea to stress.
In such conditions, the only thing you can do is wait until the plant adjusts itself to its new environment and growing conditions. Meanwhile, do not stress the plant any further. Avoid fertilizing for a couple of weeks.
As they are recently transplanted, you must have used new soil. Thus they will be already getting the required nutrients.
Water them very cautiously. Keep checking the moisture level. Locate the plant in a bright area and let them get filtered light.
Soon, the new soil used will fuel up the plant’s growth, and you will find your precious Calathea back to its normal health.
There are not many situations where Calatheas remain open. If there are any cultural or environmental issues in the plant, it either deteriorates the leaf’s health or doesn’t close up.
However, there are some situations where the Calatheas tend to stand upright constantly for a couple of days. One reason is natural, i.e., the nyctinasty and others are a real problem. So, fix them as soon as possible.
The issues may seem small, but in severe conditions, the problems might increase, resulting in the death of the plant.
The movements in Calatheas are something to amaze about.
So, if you want your Calathea to have their dramatic movements to remain constant – opening of leaves in the morning, moving up and down the whole day according to light, and then dramatically closing up at night as if praying – then take care of them very well.
Calatheas are a bit fussy to care about, but with daily practice, anyone can master it.