Do you have a Calathea plant? Then, it would help if you were meticulous about choosing the suitable compost for this plant. In fact, calathea is very sensitive to overwatering and underwatering. These two issues are directly linked to the properties of the soil and the ingredients of the compost.
Choosing the suitable compost for your calathea plants isn’t difficult, but it does require a bit of knowledge and patience.
Calathea needs rich, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Three ordinary composts are used to feed Calathea: coffee grounds, manure, and wood chips. Each has pros and cons, so I’ll share what I use and why.
If you want to know more about composts for Calathea, keep reading.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Compost for Calathea?
The best compost to use for calathea is the one that will help the soil drain well, retain some moisture, increase nutrients and maintain acidity between 6 and 7. This can be achieved using compost made of coco coir, pine bark, perlite & biochar. A multi-purpose compost mixed with horticultural grit or perlite can also be used for calathea.
Generally, it’s recommended to add compost to plants every two to three years. However, since calathea is very sensitive to the soil’s quality, we suggest adding compost to this plant every time you repot it. As a result, you will need to add compost to calathea’s soil once every year or once every two years.
To add compost to your calathea, mix 1 part compost with 5 parts soil and blend the potting mix thoroughly. If the compost is not mixed well, you may find that the soil has clumps and no complete coverage.
You can also mix the compost into the top soil layer or the whole planting bed. In fact, if you want to use the compost right away, it can also be placed in the bottom of your plant containers.
It takes time for the compost to work its way down to your plant’s roots, so you may have to wait for a few days before you see the benefits.
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Which Soil Is Suitable for Calathea?
The ideal soil for Calathea is well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a high organic matter content. It should also be somewhat moist but not saggy. Additionally, calathea soil should guarantee good air circulation.
In the following paragraphs, we will break down each one of the characteristics mentioned above and see how they can help grow healthy calathea.
Calathea plants require moist but well-draining soil. This plant like regular watering, but they do not tolerate wet feet or standing water. If the soil gets too wet, the roots may rot. This problem is worsened because calathea plants have shallow roots, which can be easily damaged by soggy soil.
In addition, calathea is susceptible to problems such as root rot. These problems can be prevented if you ensure that your calathea plant receives adequate drainage.
To improve drainage, you will need to use different soil conditioners and/or additives combinations. You can add peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, sphagnum moss, lava rock, wood chips, or any other kind of soil conditioner that improves the drainage of your soil.
Calathea plants require a bit of moisture because they are sensitive to drought. Calathea plants can quickly die in dry conditions. So if you want to avoid this problem, ensure that your soil is moist but not too wet.
If you want your soil to retain moisture, one way to do this is by using pebbles or small rocks. It would help if you placed these in your pots to help retain moisture for the plant. You can also use stones instead of pebbles.
Guarantee Good Aeration
Calathea requires a good level of air circulation to thrive and be healthy. Therefore, using soil that provides good aeration is a must.
If you don’t aerate your calathea plant, you will find that the leaves become dark and appear to have lost their color.
Adding pebbles to your Calathes’s soil will help improve air circulation. The pebbles should be placed in a ring around the plant’s pot to create this effect.
Also, adding organic matter such as coffee grounds or wood shavings to your soil will help improve air circulation significantly.
Calathea requires a little bit of acidity. In general, it prefers soil that is neutral or slightly acidic. Calathea prefers soil with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.0.
The reason calathea likes acidic soil is because it helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the soil. These bacteria will help to digest nutrients, including phosphorous.
Phosphorous is a nutrient that calathea cannot get from other sources, and the bacteria that feed on phosphorous are essential for healthy root development.
To make your calathea’s soil slightly acidic, you can use the following soil amendments:
- Bicarbonate of soda.
- Epsom salt.
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How to Prepare the Perfect Soil Mix for Calathea?
To prepare the perfect soil mix for the calathea plant, you will need a pair of gloves, warm water, and a large plastic container. Then, you will need to get the following ingredients in the exact proportions mentioned below:
- 20% orchid bark or Bark chips.
- 25% perlite or Crushed pumice.
- 20%Coconut husks.
- 5% activated charcoal.
- 10% worm castings.
Start by pouring warm water onto the permit and coconut husks, then wear your gloves and mix all the ingredients in the container. Keep mixing the elements until you get a homogeneous mix. Congratulations! Your calathea soil mix is ready for use.
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How to Know If the Soil Is Not Suitable for Your Calathea?
Leaf issues such as curling, discolorating and drooping are mainly related to soil problems. For example, the leaves of calathea will start to curl when you grow this plant in acidic soil. Additionally, waterlogged soil can cause the leaves of this plant to curl. Also, lack of drainage in the soil can cause calathea leaves to lose their original color and turn yellow or brown.
Generally, when the roots sit in a wet environment for a long time, they will not get enough oxygen. As a result, they will not transfer enough nutrients to the leaves, which will cause them to wilt and curl.
When calathea is grown in soil that does not hold enough moisture, the plant may experience slow growth. Calatheas are a plant with thick leaves that require a lot of water. So, the lack of water can affect the growth and health of your plant.
Poorly drained soil can be the cause of bad-smelling calathea. It’s the lack of oxygen that causes this problem. Because the soil lacks oxygen, it doesn’t support the growth of plants, and it also doesn’t support the development of aerobic bacteria, which are essential in breaking down organic matter. As a result, the decaying matter can accumulate and release its odors.
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Can I Grow Calathea in LECA?
Growing calathea in LECA is totally ok and beneficial for this plant. LECA is a humid growing medium ideal for tropical plants like calathea. Additionally, LECA is easy to maintain. You need to water it regularly, and the clay balls will break down and release water into the plant.
Also, when growing plants in LECA, you can easily access the root system without digging them up.
Do I Need to Repot My Calathea?
It would be best if you repotted your calathea once every year or when it becomes root-bound. Repotting will allow your plant to extend its roots, giving it a better foundation and improving its health. Repotting also lets plants grow in new soil, which helps the roots absorb nutrients.
Repotting is also easy to help a calathea recover from a root problem. If your plant is suffering from weak roots or roots that grow too deep. Repotting can solve this problem by allowing more room for the roots to grow deeper.
Can You Use Cactus Soil for Calathea?
Cactus soil can be used for calathea because it drains well and guarantees good air circulation. Additionally, cactus soil is rich in nutrients, which is ideal for calathea. Furthermore, this soil provides the correct moisture for growing tropical plants like calathea.
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