20 Mar 2020
This is the most temperamental plant in my collection. There's no doubt that it's increadibly beautiful and very rewarding when it's thriving, but getting that balance is really hard work.
What most websites say about this plant:
For the first 6 months (summer to autumn) my plant was happy on my bedside table right next to a north-facing window. I placed stones in its drainage tray and filled that frequently with water. My habit of keeping a glass of H2O by my bed at night = perfect for a quick top-up.
However, during the winter it started to decline...
First the edges of the leaves became crispy. Then the crispiness spread further into the leaves.
And the plant generally didn't look very happy. There were probably several factors that played a part:
I purchased a growlight for general winter use. I didn't get one of the little ones, I bought a fat 300W full spectrum growlight. I placed the calathea about 60-70cm and off-centre (the light is most intence directly beneah the light) from the growlight for a few months to see if I could rejuvenate it. The light was on approx. 10 hours a day.
My growlight set up was in my bathroom, so there's plenty humidity each morning (or whenever we showered). In addition I kept a spray bottle next to it and each time I went into the bathroom I gave it a little hello spritz.
I live in a (very) hard water area. I originally gave my plant tap water believing that it'd be fine (90% of my indoor plants don't seem to be affected). I changed to distilled water, which seems extravagant but I can't get much rainwater from my teeeny balcony (though when I can I use this instead).
I stuck with my seaweed fertiliser and mixed a little into a large tupperware containing the distilled water. Then I placed the plant into this bath so it could drink from the bottom of the pot up.
This is the biggest change I've made during the cold seasons, as I had a lot of cases of top soil growing mould... While the mould isn't usually a problem itself, I could avoid it by bottom-watering and also prevent any fungus gnat larva from taking up residence in the damp top soil.
Every few weeks I'd cut off one or two of the badly burnt older leaves. I figured that this would give the plant more energy to grow new leaves, and if I spaced the pruning sessions out then any shock the plant would experience from losing some limbs would be minimised.
THREE new gorgeous leaves and a general sense of happiness from the plant (I'm over the moon).