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Why Is My Calathea Not Closing At Night? (Possible Problems+How To Fix)

Besides being a beautiful tropical houseplant, Calathea is also known for its leaf activities. The leaves fold upwards at night, which resembles praying. That’s why Calatheas are also known as Prayer plants. But what happens if the leaves don’t close at night? Is it a matter of concern?

why is your calathea not closing at night? Let’s find out.

Incorrect watering, not getting proper lighting conditions, exposure to low temperatures, and humidity are primary reasons why your calatheas leaves might not be closing at night. To fix the problem, Move the plant to medium bright light and water only when topsoil gets dry.

Instead of getting worked up because of Calathea’s leaves not closing at night, read this article to learn more about the causes and how to cope with the issues.

Calathea closing up at night

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Do all Calatheas close at night?

Calatheas have different species, and all of them close leaves at night. Since Calathea belongs to the Marantaceae family, it closes the leaves at night. 

Due to this unique leaf movement of Calathea, it is called the Prayer plant. 

The only difference that the species may have is that some species move the leaves more than those with subtle movements. 

You can sense a problem when your Calathea doesn’t show any movements.

Why has my Calathea stopped closing?

Calatheas are rather fussy plants that require proper care to thrive and remain healthy. In their natural habitat, Calatheas receive dappled sunlight, a lot of humidity, enough water, and a good amount of nutrition. 

While indoors, if your Calathea doesn’t receive all these requirements, it will neither remain healthy nor perform its regular activities, including the closing of leaves at night. 

The possible reasons that might be stopping your Calathea from closing leaves at night are: 

  • Overwatering 
  • Underwatering 
  • Low light 
  • Direct sunlight 
  • Low humidity 
  • Low temperature 
  • Pest infestation 

Now I’ll discuss each of these in detail so that you can identify the exact problem and fix it as soon as possible.


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Overwatering 

Whichever problem you might be facing in your Calathea, you cannot leave out overwatering as the possible cause. 

Overwatering is common and can be deadly as it causes root rot in the long run that eventually kills the plants. 

Although Calathea prefers moist soil that requires adequate watering, it will not tolerate soggy soil that is caused due to overwatering. 

However, many enthusiasts fail to understand this and end up overwatering their Calathea, leading to unhealthy roots and an unhealthy plant that fails to function correctly.

Ultimately, you find that the leaves of your Calathea are not closing at night. 

Therefore, you must check the soil and the roots to figure out if overwatering is the issue. 

If overwatered, your Calathea will have: 

  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • Soft and brown roots
  • Foul-smelling soil

How to fix an overwatered Calathea?

If you have an overwatered Calathea, follow these steps to treat it. 

  • Take the Calathea out of its pot and inspect the roots. 
  • If you notice brown and mushy roots, prune them with sterilized pruners.
  • Spray fungicide on the healthy roots.
  • If there are no damaged roots, let them and the soil dry out under bright sunlight.
  • Prune all the damaged leaves and parts of the Calathea. 
  • Repot the plant in a new pot with drainage holes. 
  • Use a fresh and well-draining potting mix to repot your Calathea.
  • Keep your Calathea in a bright area that has a lot of indirect light.

Also read: How To Fix Overwatered Calathea? (Possible Cause, Signs & How To Fix)

Underwatering 

Calathea will not tolerate drought conditions, so it will show problems if you don’t give it sufficient water. 

If you ignore the signs and keep giving your Calathea less water, it will soon become dehydrated, and the leaves will start drying up. Due to this, your Calathea leaves might not be closing up at night. 

An underwatered Calathea will show these signs: 

  • Wilting leaves 
  • Dry leaves 
  • Brown leaves
  • Droopy leaves
  • Dehydrated plant

How to fix an underwatered Calathea?

If you have been watering your Calathea inadequately, you need to fix it so that its leaves can function the way they should and close up at night.

  • Water the soil and wait for a few seconds and let the soil soak the water.
  • You can aerate the soil by poking holes in it with a chopstick. This will let the soil soak water more efficiently.
  • After it soaks in the water, you can water your Calathea thoroughly till the water starts draining out of the drainage holes.
  • Keep the soil in check so that you know when the top layer has gone dry. Water the plant as soon as it dries up.
  • Opt for a self-watering pot if you don’t have the time to water the plant.

Also read: How Often To Water Calathea? (A Complete Calathea Watering Guide)

Low light

Calathea leggy2

Calatheas prefer indirect light. Calatheas come from tropical forests where they grow on the ground and are covered with large canopies, receiving dappled light.

Although these plants can survive low light environments, a prolonged period of low light will affect their usual functions. So, if your Calathea is placed in low light, its leaves might not close up at night.

Other signs of low light are:

  • Discolored leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Leggy growth
  • Weak plant

How to improve the lighting for Calathea?

If your Calathea is not getting enough light, you can provide it more light by:

  • Relocate your Calathea to a different place of the house that gets more indirect light.
  • Trim the discolored leaves and the unhealthy growths.
  • Use artificial lights called grow lights if your house doesn’t get enough natural light.

Also read: How Much Light Do Calathea Plants Need? (Calathea Plant Light Requirements)

Direct sunlight

Calatheas can tolerate low light but not direct sunlight. Similar to most other houseplants, Calathea is sensitive to direct sunlight.

If your Calathea is placed in a spot where it receives direct sunlight, its leaves will get scorched and not function correctly. So you might not see the usual movements such as closing at night.

You can identify a sunburned Calathea with the following signs:

  • Dry and compact soil
  • Scorched leaves
  • Dry brown patches on leaves
  • Dehydrated and dull plant

How to save Calathea from direct sunlight?

You can save your Calathea from direct sunlight by following these:

  • Relocate your plant indoors if it is placed on the balcony or patio where it gets direct sunlight. You can also move it to a shadier spot.
  • Prune the scorched and unhealthy leaves.
  • If the Calathea is placed near a window, you can move it a few feet away or use filters or blinds to filter the direct sunlight.
  • Make sure that the plant gets enough darkness. Calatheas require 8 hours of darkness.

Also read: Is My Calathea Getting Too Much Sun? (Sunburnt Calathea)



Low humidity

I can’t stress more the importance of high humidity for Calatheas. These are tropical plants that are used to high humidity in their native lands.

When grown as houseplants, you might not provide as much humidity, but you have to provide what they need. Calathea requires at least 50-60% humidity to function well.

If the plant doesn’t get enough humidity, its leaves will not function properly and not close at night.

A Calathea that doesn’t get enough humidity will show:

  • Dry leaves
  • Dry soil
  • Discolored leaves

How to provide more humidity to Calathea?

You must create a humid environment for your Calathea, and you can do it in any of the following ways.

  • You can fix a humidifier in the room where your Calathea is placed.
  • You can create a pebble tray by placing some pebbles on a tray and adding water to it. The next thing to do is place the Calathea on top of the pebble tray, let the water evaporate, adding moisture around the plant.
  • Place your Calathea together with other tropical plants that require high humidity. They will transpire and create a humid environment around that area.
  • Relocate your Calathea to the kitchen or bathroom if the other conditions are favorable for your Calathea.

Also read: Should I Mist My Calathea Plant? (Calathea Humidity Requirements)

Low temperature

Tropical plants receive warm conditions with high temperatures in their native lands. Calathea is a tropical plant that prefers warm conditions.

Although you can’t provide as high temperatures as the tropical forests, you can provide comfort inside the house. 

If your Calathea is exposed to low temperatures, it will develop various problems: the leaves are not closing at night.

How to increase the temperature for Calathea?

You should protect your Calathea from low temperatures.

  • Don’t expose your Calathea to low temperatures, cold drafts, and frost during winter.
  • Don’t keep your Calathea near doors and windows that are closed and opened frequently.
  • Don’t keep the Calathea in front of the direct air of the AC.
  • Don’t place the plant too near the radiator or fireplace.

Also read: What Temperature Can Calathea Tolerate? (Ideal Temperature Range)

Pest infestation

A pest infestation can lead to your Calathea leaves not closing at night. You might be wondering how.

Calathea can attract pests from other plants or if it is exposed to unfavorable conditions. These pests suck all the nutrients out of the plant, leaving it weak and vulnerable.

Due to a lack of nutrients, Calathea will not be able to function correctly. The plant will not pray, and its leaves will not close at night.

Some common pests found on Calathea are spider mites and aphids.

A pest infested Calathea will show the following signs:

  • Holes in leaves
  • Weak and dull plant
  • Distorted leaves
  • Web-like structures under the leaves
  • Spotted leaves

How to treat pest infestations on Calathea?

If your Calathea is infested with pests, you must take the correct steps to get rid of them and prevent their further infestation.

  • Handpick the visible pests.
  • Spray neem oil all over your Calathea to eliminate the pests.
  • Drench a cotton ball in alcohol and wipe the leaves with it.
  • Take care of the Calathea by providing adequate water and light and ensuring that all other conditions are correct.

Final words

A healthy Calathea will have the correct leaf movements that close up at night. So, if your Calathea leaves are not moving upwards, there might be some problem.

Ensure you water your Calathea correctly, providing enough indirect light and darkness, keeping it in a warm environment with adequate humidity, and not letting pests attack it. If you take care of these, your Calathea will not face problems like the leaves not closing up at night.

However, if Calathea faces this problem and its leaves don’t close up at night, don’t panic and take the steps mentioned in the article.


Source: NCBI, University of Florida, Wikipedia,  Growing Indoor Plants with SuccessAgriculture, and Natural Resources, University of CaliforniaMissouri Botanical Garden.