Why Is My Calathea Dying? Common Problems

The Calathea is a plant with a reputation for being fussy. It can be hard to grow and keep happy, but it can’t throw anything at you that can’t be handled. The Calathea is one of those plants that will tell you exactly what is wrong with it. In this guide we will take you through the most common issues you may encounter with your prayer plant and how to fix them. 

Yellow leaves

The main way a Calathea will tell you if something is wrong is by displaying yellow leaves. This is a common symptom of a few issues and is usually the first warning sign. Here are the top causes of yellowing leaves in prayer plants and how to solve them. 

Overwatering - overwatering a Calathea is an easy thing to do as it can be very susceptible to minute changes in soil moisture. When watering your Calathea, make sure you leave the top quarter of the soil to dry out before watering. You should also make sure that your pot is well-draining so that any excess water doesn’t gather in the pot

Natural leaf shedding - as your Calathea grows, it will start to reabsorb nutrients from lower leaves to use elsewhere. These leaves will turn yellow, become papery to the touch and turn brown. They will eventually drop off and your plant will be fine. If you haven’t changed your watering habits or moved your plant it is likely just natural leaf droppage that you can ignore. Just make sure to remove the leaves once they start to brown

Overexposure to sunlight - too much exposure to direct sunlight will begin to burn the leaves of your Calathea. This will start off as small blisters on the leaves, but they will eventually become yellow or white before dropping off. When this happens the leaves will die off and it can kill your whole plant. The only way to avoid this is to move the plant to a less exposed location or cover the window with a blind that filters the sunlight 

Change in growing conditions - Calathea plants can be sensitive to changes in their growing environment and will show this stress with yellowing leaves. If you have just moved or repotted your plant or changed your watering schedule give it a few weeks to see if the plant returns to normal

Overfeeding - it is easy to overfeed your Calathea when you first start growing them. Overfeeding with any fertiliser can lead to a buildup of minerals and chemicals in the soil. This can be easily sorted out by flushing the soil through with water to clean it out 

Curling leaves 

Catathea leaves curling is a sign that your plants are not receiving enough water. It can also be a sign of overwatering so you first need to make sure that you diagnose what is wrong with your plant. 

First, check the soil; If it is dry, water it until the water begins to seep from the drainage holes. If the leaves unfurl in the days to follow you know that you need to water more. If the leaves are still curled then gently lift it from the soil to check the leaves. If they are brown and have a slightly rotten smell you have overwatered and the roots have begun to rot. In this case repot into drier soil and lessen your watering schedule

Brown leaf tips

Brown leaf tips are a common sign of a few issues in a Calathea plant. All of them are easily overcome. Here are the main causes of brown leaf tips on a Calathea: 

Low humidity - Like all tropical houseplants, the Calathea has adapted to high-humidity environments. The water in the air helps to keep the leaves healthy and when there's not enough humidity you will find that the leaves begin to brown. This is an easy problem to fix.

Mineral build up in the soil - Calathea plants don’t always like being watered with tap water. They can contain some salts and minerals that build up in the soil and cause issues with the roots. To get around this issue you should flush your calatheas soil every few months with distilled water to remove the excess minerals 

Leaf pattern loss 

The leaf patterns are one of the main draws for owning a Calathea plant. When your Calathea loses its leaf pattern it is a sign that something is wrong with the light conditions or it needs more nutrition. The way the pattern is lost will determine what is causing the problem. 

Too much light - when a Calathea loses its leaf pattern because it's receiving too much light the pattern will fade and the leaf will begin to turn translucent. It is not likely that your Calathea will receive enough light for this to happen indoors unless it is in direct, strong light. If this happens simply move it to a darker position

Too little light - a Calathea that loses its pattern because it receives too little light will show its changes differently than if it's exposed to too much light. In this case the pattern will fade completely and the leaf will become a uniform colour. In this case you need to move your plant to a sunnier location and you will quickly see a change in the foliage. 

Under Fertilisation - It takes a lot of energy for your Calathea to maintain its wonderful patterned foliage. If you find the pattern starting to fade when there have been no changes to its lighting conditions it is likely that your plant needs more fertilisation. Apply a general all-purpose liquid feed once a month when watering to help it maintain its colour and pattern.

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