Calathea is an excellent, airy plant that offers a refreshing touch to your home. It is easy to grow indoors and outdoors and can be a superb houseplant for beginners. But have you ever wondered how it survives the cold days of the winter season?
In this article, we will see if Calathes go dormant during winter and how to care for this plant during the cold seasons.
Let’s get started!
Do Calatheas Go Dormant in Winter?
Calathea goes dormant during winter. This plant needs a warm temperature for its growth. The plant stops growing if the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. During this time, the calathea prepares to survive the cold weather and prepares for the next growing season.
When the temperature rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius again, the calathea starts growing.
You should not worry if your calathea stops growing during winter. Also, do not try to give your plant more food and water to force it to grow. In fact, the plant is already using the energy stored during the warm season in the form of starch inside the roots and stems. The plant will manage this energy during winter and need the lowest amount of food and water possible.
Dormancy is also an occasion for plants to rest and recover from the stress of the growing season. Generally, plants get exposed to too much sun during spring and summer. As a result, they produce more energy and photosynthesize at a higher rate. That’s why most plants prefer to rest during cold days when the temperature is not suitable for having enough energy and food. You can consider dormancy as a holiday for plants!
In warmer climates, calathea’s dormancy is shorter and less pronounced. Generally, calathea experiences little temperature changes in their native habitat. As a result, the plant does not go into dormancy systematically during winter. Calathea will go dormant only if the winter temperature drops significantly.
One more thing that I should mention about the dormancy of calathea is that leaf drop is not usual for this plant during winter. In fact, this plant does not renew its foliage every year like many other plants. As a result, if you notice that your calathea is dropping leaves during winter, it’s most likely because of cold drafts or a disease.
So, winter conditions like cold and snow are not the best option for calathea. Therefore, the plant care routine must be changed during the cold seasons to keep this plant healthy and prepare it correctly for the upcoming growing season.
Let’s see how we should care for your calathea during winter.
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How Do You Keep Calathea Alive in the Winter?
You must change your care routine if you want your calathea to stay healthy during the winter season. Calathea does not like frequent changes in temperatures and light levels during the short winter days. Therefore, maintaining a stable temperature and long hours of light is vital for calathea during winter.
Additionally, fertilizing and watering routines should also be changed during winter.
Let’s dive deep into how to keep your calathea healthy during winter.
Calathea can survive low light conditions during winter. Generally, this plant prefers a sunny spot, but it can tolerate poor lighting more than other species. However, long hours in the dark can harm the plant as it is not adapted to grow in total darkness.
You can put your calathea near a south-facing window during winter if you live somewhere where cold drafts are less likely to happen. Nevertheless, if the current risk is prominent, take your plant inside the house, preferably to the kitchen or bathroom, and use grow light as a substitute for sunlight.
The main advantage of using grow lights during the winter is to help plants go through long periods of darkness without experiencing leaf wilting and discoloration.
Calathea grows best within temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this temperature range, the plant does not require much light and can grow to its full size in a relatively short period. However, during winter, the temperature becomes unstable and cold drafts are more likely to happen, damaging calathea.
To prevent cold drafts from hitting your calathea during the winter season, you should place them in a location that is away from windows and doors. You can also protect it by covering it with transparent plastic wrap. This way, the plant can still get the sunlight but won’t be exposed to cold drafts.
You should also avoid placing your calathea near a heating vent, fireplace, or another primary heat source because the plant may experience heat stress in this case. Instead, you can keep your plant warm by using a heating mat. These mats contain an LED light that warms the soil below the plant.
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Watering your indoor plant during winter should be done carefully, so you don’t overwater it. This is because overwatering is most likely to happen when the temperature is cold, and the sun is less available.
The best calathea watering routine should be based on a systematic approach, not a rigid schedule. You can set up your systematic watering protocol using a standard method like a finger soil test or a modern procedure like a moister meter.
If you choose to check the soil using your finger, then place your finger about 1 inch below the soil line and feel the soil. If the soil is dry, add water using a watering can or hose. If the soil is too wet, remove your finger and wait for the soil to dry out.
If you don’t want to get your finger inside the soil, you can check the soil using a moister meter. To use a moister meter, dig the prob of the device in the soil and check the reading. If it indicates that the soil is dry, you can water your calathea. If not, then don’t do anything.
When calathea goes into dormancy, it’s time to slow down. Instead of feeding it regularly, give it the minimum dose of fertilizer possible. It’s best to fertilize once every two months if your plant does not show any signs of growth or once a month maximum when the plant is growing slowly.
Generally, fertilizing during winter should be reduced to a minimum. Otherwise, you will be just upsetting your plants.
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When the weather is cold, the humidity goes down automatically. This humidity drop causes plants to wilt and develop brown leaves. Low humidity can also make plants develop cracks on their leaves.
The best way to keep humidity stable for calathea during winter is by using a humidifier, which is a device that constantly gives off water vapor into the air. You can find cheap humidifiers that don’t cost much on Amazon or Home Depot.
How Often Should I Water My Calathea in the Winter?
There is no rigid calathea watering schedule for winter. If someone tells you you should water this plant only once or twice a month during winter, you would rather skip this advice. In fact, the watering frequency will depend on how cold the weather is and how long the sun shows up during the day.
If the climate is freezing and the sun does not show up, the soil will dry very slowly. As a result, you will rarely water your calathea. However, if the temperature does not reach extreme levels and the sun shows up every now and then, you will need to water your plant more frequently.
The key to correctly watering your calathea during any season, whether winter or summer, is checking the soil before watering. As mentioned above, you can perform this check using your finger or a moister meter.
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What Houseplants Go Dormant in the Winter?
Generally, most plants go dormant during winter to protect themselves from cold temperatures. They stop growing and use energy for maintenance. This allows them to prepare for the next growing season. However, there is a kind of plant that keeps growing in winter. Annuals are a kind of plant that grows typically during cold days because they survive only during one growing season, as their name indicates.
Here is a list of the most common plants that go dormant during winter:
- Marble queen pothos.
- Chinese evergreen.
- Aloe vera.
- Snake plant.
- Fiddle leaf fig.
- Monstera deliciosa.
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F.A.Q Regarding Calathea Winter Care
Is Calatheas Sensitive to Cold?
When calatheas are exposed to cold temperatures, they can suffer damage such as stunted growth, reduced yields, and leaf discoloration. Additionally, they may be more susceptible to disease. Cold temperatures also interfere with photosynthesis, a big part of plant growth.
How Cold Can Calathea Tolerate?
Calathea can tolerate temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15°C) but prefers temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C-30°C).
Calathea is a tropical houseplant that has a hardiness zone of 10b-11a. They can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 9 and 10.
When the temperature goes above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, calathea may experience heat stress, wilt, burn, and even die. On the other hand, if the temperature goes below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant may shut down. A sudden drop in temperature can cause water to freeze and expand, damaging the plant’s cells and causing cell death. In addition, freezing temperatures can cause the plant to lose its ability to regulate water and nutrients inside its cells.
Should I Cut Dead Leaves off Calathea?
Yes, it would be best if you cut dead leaves off calathea. Dead leaves are an excellent food source for many pests, including aphids, leafhoppers, and mealybugs. Additionally, dead leaves can harbor bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Cutting off dead leaves reduces the chance of disease spreading and gives the plant more energy to
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