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Calathea is an exotic tropical plant that has been adapted as a houseplant due to its beautiful leaves. However, it’s not easy to deal with a Calathea as it is very particular about its needs. Therefore, many people have termed it a finicky plant.
It’s sad to see your Calathea dying due to unfavorable conditions. So, in this article, we shall learn how to save a dying calathea plant.
To save a dying calathea plant, you need to follow these steps:
- Move the plant to a medium-light location.
- Examine the plant for possible problems like pests and diseases.
- Take the plant out of the pot and examine its roots for root rot.
- Repot the plant using a fresh soil mix and ensure the pot has sufficient drainage.
- Spray neem oil solution to get rid of any hidden pests.
- Water the plant only when the top layer of soil feels dry.
- Stop fertilizing the plant until it recovers.
- Maintain a steady temperature between 65 to 75°F.
- Keep them away from cold drafts.
You can save your Calathea by identifying the problem and fixing it. You also need to provide the ideal living and growing conditions to your Calathea.
If you are growing a Calathea that’s dying and want to find out the reasons, read this article as I have tried to compile all the possible causes and solutions.
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Why is my Calathea dying?
Your Calathea might be dying due to any of the following reasons:
- Direct sunlight
- Pest infestation
- Fungal diseases
- Low temperature
Now let’s discuss these in detail along with their symptoms and solutions.
Calathea comes from the tropical forests where these plants grow on the forest floor. Tall canopies cover them, so they never receive direct sunlight.
Calathea receives dappled sunlight in its natural habitat, and that’s what it needs indoors. If you don’t know that and place it in a spot with direct sunlight, it will get sunburned.
Common signs of a sunburned Calathea plant are:
- Dry brown patches on leaves
- Dry and compact soil
It can be difficult to revive a sunburned Calathea if you have left it under direct sun for too long.
Solution: If your Calathea has been receiving direct sunlight, you should relocate it to another location where it will get indirect sunlight.
The next step is to prune all the damaged leaves that have become dry and discolored. These leaves will not get better, so removing them is the best thing to do.
Water the plant thoroughly. If the soil goes compact, take the Calathea out of its pot and soak the soil into a tub of water for a while.
You can also use a chopstick and poke holes in the soil before watering so that the soil can soak the water.
Avoid fertilizing the plant as it can worsen the condition and make it more dehydrated. Let your Calathea recover from the stress caused due to excess sun exposure.
If you fail to identify pest infestation on time, your Calathea will die as the pests reproduce fast and take over the plant. They suck all the nutrition out of the plant and make it weak.
Due to being weak for an extended period, the plant will ultimately die.
Common pests that you might find on your Calathea are spider mites, mealybugs, scales, and aphids.
While spider mites infest your Calathea due to underwatering and dry conditions, other pests such as mealybugs, aphids, or scales get attracted due to moist soil and overwatering.
Signs of pest infestation on your Calathea are:
- Holes in leaves
- White spots
- Web-like structures
- Stunted growth
- Spotted leaves
- Yellow leaves
- Distorted foliage
Solution: If your Calathea has a pest infestation, you must first isolate the plant so the pests can’t reach the other plants in your house.
Check the plant and the undersides of its leaves. If you notice pests, you can opt for any one of these:
- Spray your Calathea with a strong force of water.
- Spray neem oil all over the plant.
- Dunk a cotton ball in alcohol and wipe the pest-infested parts with it to kill the pests.
- You can get rid of the parts that are highly infested with pests or damaged by them.
- Provide suitable conditions to your Calathea so that the plant remains healthy and doesn’t get infested with pests.
Your Calathea can develop fungal infections due to which its health might be deteriorating, and the Calathea might be dying.
Fusarium wilt: It is caused due to Fusarium pathogen that can kill your Calathea if you fail to notice the early signs. This disease starts from the roots and spreads across the plant.
Some signs of fusarium wilt are:
- Wilting leaves (As the name suggests)
- Yellow leaves
- Young leaves get affected first.
Solution: Take the Calathea out of the pot and repot it with fresh potting soil. This pathogen spreads from the soil, so changing the soil is a must.
You can apply a fungicide to your Calathea to treat this disease.
Leaf blight: Another fungal disease that can affect the Calathea plant is the leaf blight disease. It is a deadly disease, and saving Calathea from this will be difficult.
If your Calathea has leaf blight disease, you will notice:
- Spots on leaves
- Curling leaves
- Discolored foliage
- Falling leaves
Solution: There is no solution for this disease as it ultimately kills the plant, but you can prevent this disease by applying neem oil or a baking soda solution.
Overwatering might cause many occurring problems in your Calathea. Calathea prefers slightly moist soil, but that doesn’t mean it will prefer wet soil.
If you are not careful enough while watering your Calathea, you’ll end up overwatering it. Overwatering has the most effects on the roots of your Calathea.
The roots of your Calathea will develop root rot if they remain in the water for too long. The roots will not get any oxygen supply as the excess water will block the oxygen, leading to root rots.
This will make the plant weak as the roots will not be able to function normally.
Signs of an overwatered Calathea are:
- Yellow leaves
- Brown leaves
- Black spots
- Foul-smelling soil
- Brown and mushy roots
- Wilting leaves
- Curling leaves
Solution: If your Calathea doesn’t have root rot, you can tilt the pot if you notice still water on the soil. Take it out and allow the soil and roots to dry under bright indirect sunlight.
After the soil and roots dry out, you can plant the Calathea back and let it recover.
But if your Calathea has root rot, you must wash the roots, remove the soil, and cut the brown and unhealthy roots. Also, prune the unhealthy leaves or branches you find on the plant.
Spray fungicide on the healthy roots and repot the Calathea in a new pot with fresh potting mix.
Leave the Calathea under indirect sunlight and don’t fertilize till the plant recovers. Water the plant only when the topsoil gets dry.
Your Calathea will get underwatered if you don’t water it on time or forget to water it when required. Calatheas don’t prefer drought conditions, so it might even die if you underwater it for a prolonged period!
It is easier to treat underwatering than overwatering as you need to give your Calathea a good drink and not miss watering it the next time.
If your Calathea is underwatered, you’ll come across:
- Dry and brown spots on leaves
- Brown edges and tips on leaves
- Curling leaves
- Compact soil
- Dull plant
Solution: If your Calathea is underwatered, you must first aerate the soil by poking it with a chopstick. Then water it a bit and wait for the soil to soak the water.
Once the soil soaks up that water, you can water your Calathea very well and let the water drain from the pot’s drainage holes.
Let your Calathea recover, and then you must maintain a proper watering schedule so that you don’t underwater your Calathea again.
You can maintain a calendar that will remind you to water the Calathea. However, always water after checking the soil. If you don’t have enough time to water your Calathea, you can get a self-watering pot.
Calathea comes from tropical regions where it receives high temperatures. But as a houseplant, it might not receive warm conditions always, especially during winter.
If you expose your Calathea to low temperatures, it will become unhealthy due to the stress. Some signs of stress on your Calathea due to low temperatures are:
- Pale and discolored foliage
- Stunted growth
- Curling leaves
Solution: You must not expose your Calathea to low temperatures. If it has received shock due to low temperatures, you must:
- Bring it to a different spot where it will receive warm conditions.
- Keep your Calathea away from cold drafts and frost during winter.
- Avoid placing it near any window or door that is opened or closed frequently.
- Don’t keep it in front of the AC.
- Try to keep it in average room temperatures that are comfortable for humans.
How to save a dying Calathea?
You need to address different problems differently, but after fixing the issues, you need to take care of your Calathea the right way, so it doesn’t develop the same problems again.
Here are the tips to keep your Calathea healthy and save it from dying.
- Keep your Calathea plant under bright and indirect light.
- Ensure that the soil remains moist, so water your Calathea as soon as the topsoil gets dry.
- Don’t keep the Calathea thirsty for too long as it doesn’t enjoy dry conditions.
- The pot should be one size bigger than the plant, and it should have drainage holes to eliminate the excess water.
- Use the perfect balance of retaining and draining elements in the potting mix so that your Calathea is neither overwatered nor underwatered.
- Try to maintain temperature levels between 65-80°F.
- Provide sufficient humidity by installing a humidifier or using a pebble tray, or relocating the plant to the bathroom.
- Mist the plant occasionally and wipe the leaves to keep them dust-free and clean.
- Spray a neem oil solution on your Calathea every month to protect it from pest infestations and fungal infections.
- Rotate the plant at regular intervals, so it gets light on all sides.
- Don’t keep your Calathea too near the fireplace, furnace, or any other heating source.
- Filter the light coming from the window with filters or curtains to save your Calathea from direct sun exposure.
- Prune your Calathea occasionally to keep it well-groomed and get rid of the diseased and dead parts.
- Repot whenever the plant gets root-bound or just before it. Usually, the ideal time to repot Calathea is once a year.
- Keep a check on your Calathea so that you can catch the early signs of any issue that might trouble your plant.
If you follow these points and create an ideal care routine for your Calathea, you can save it from dying.