Calathea louisae, also known as Goeppertia louisae, or the prayer plant is a beautiful variegated-leaved indoor plant. It has been a gardener’s favorite most especially because of its aesthetic foliage. I know you are wondering how to take care of this seemingly hand-painted ornamental! So let us hop in!
Calathea louisae plants thrive with 1) 7 to 10-inch plastic planters with drainage holes, 2) moist well-draining soil, 3) watering every 1–4 days, 4) 4–5 hours of indirect sunlight in east or west windows, 5) temperatures between 65–85°F, 6) humidity around 50–90%, and 7) a monthly application of a 10-10-10 fertilizer.
The prayer plant is more than just its beautifully patterned leaves. Mind you, mastering how to successfully grow and care for this plant needs a lot of prayers—just like its name! But it is extremely rewarding in the end.
The best planter size for calathea louisae is 7 to 10 inches in diameter. Plastic pots are a great choice since they’re non-porous and can retain moisture well. Drainage holes must also be present in the planters.
Three planter factors must be present for the success of your calathea louisae plants: optimum size, non-porosity of the material, and adequate drainage.
Although this depends on the size of the plant itself, planters that measure more or less 7 to 10 in diameter can ensure good growth for most calathea plants.
These are especially great from grown cuttings that have been transplanted from a potted mother plant.
Plastic is the best material for planters since it can retain water well, unlike ceramics or coco coir planters.
They are also less prone to soil contamination and the growth of harmful microorganisms.
The most important aspect of a planter is sufficient drainage. So make sure that your planters have holes below them!
If they have poor drainage, bacteria and fungi might grow faster and infest your Calathea!
The best soil for calathea louisae is made with 1 part perlite or sand and 2 parts coco peat or soil. Such a growing medium is well-aerated and well-drained.
Calathea louisae needs the best soil mix to grow optimally. While proven and tested pre-mix soil can be utilized, I also recommend making your own mix. Even first-time growers can make it at home!
The potting mix must be properly draining, moist, and filled with necessary nutrients. Since prayer plants love moist soil, increasing its porosity can help support this requirement.
Watering enough to not dry out the soil, but not too much that water spills, is one good practice for the prayer plant.
Another important factor to consider is the soil pH. The best pH for calathea louisae is 6.5. We recommend using a litmus paper to test the pH of the soil.
Limestone is typically used to lessen the acidity of soils, while acidic fertilizers can be used to increase acidity.
Calathea louisae needs frequent watering to survive, as dried-out soil should be avoided. It should be watered every 1–2 days in spring, summer, and fall and 3–4 days in winter.
As a rule of thumb, slightly moist soil is best to be maintained for prayer plants. One sign that you can look at in terms of watering is the state of its leaves.
Crispy leaves can be an indication that your prayer plant is already dehydrated. So water it thoroughly if you notice such a change in its leaf texture.
Besides water stress which can cause lodging and death to the prayer plant, overwatering can also pave the way to different diseases such as fungal infection.
Simply put, it is also important not to excessively wet the plant’s leaves to not promote an ideal environment for different harmful microorganisms to breed and multiply!
Placing prayer plants near west or east-facing windows that receive 4–5 hours of indirect light can ensure that it is not getting a direct hit of sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn Calathea louisae leaves, leading to curling and browning edges.
Calathea louisae is naturally found under the shade of large trees. As a tropical plant, however, it still needs enough bright light.
Nevertheless, being shade-loving, an environment that provides indirect light is the best place for the prayer plant to thrive.
Moreover, direct exposure to sunlight can make its bright colors fade over time. Even so, as an indoor plant, it can still grow in low light conditions, but duplicating its natural habitat will provide optimum growth.
We suggest immediately relocating your calathea louisae to another location if it starts exhibiting browning leaf edges because of the amount of light it is currently receiving.
Calathea louisae thrives best in temperatures ranging from 65–85°F. If the temperature drops much lower5, the prayer plant might experience stunted growth.
As a plant native to Brazil, Calathea louisae prefers subtropical and tropical climates. This is the reason why it cannot tolerate cold climates.
It is important to always check the temperature levels of the room where Calathea louisae is placed, making sure that it remains stable as much as possible.
Overall, this prayer plant prefers warm areas.
The optimal relative humidity level for calathea louisae growth is 90%. But a relative humidity of at least 50% will suffice.
Calathea louisae loves high-moisture places. In fact, its wild counterparts are found in the rainforests of Brazil!
While mimicking these conditions can be challenging, spraying lukewarm water or wiping its leaves can help provide somewhat similar conditions.
Even so, I wouldn’t recommend spraying directly into the prayer plant’s foliage. You should also ensure proper ventilation in the room to not risk any infections, particularly, fungal ones.
You can use a humidifier like the one below from Amazon to ensure high relative humidity!
Fertilizer application is not necessary but can hasten and encourage the growth of Calathea louisae. Pre-made liquid fertilizers (10-10-10) available in the market can be applied only once a month, especially when they are flowering and actively growing.
“How to use this fertilizer?” you may ask.
A 10-10-10 NPK ratio fertilizer can be applied monthly in spring and summer. Just be careful!
Putting too much fertilizer is not healthy for any plant, such as Calathea louisae, as it can lead to toxicity.
Therefore, knowing the fertilizer and the state of your prayer plant is important to understand when is the best time to apply fertilizer.
Isolation of diseased plants, pruning infected leaves, and treating with neem oil are common ways to manage pests and diseases in calathea louisae.
Because Calathea louisae prefers a tropical climate, its high humidity and temperature requirements can be ideal for the growth of various pests and pathogens.
Isolate infected prayer plants to prevent disease spread to other plants. The symptoms can be seen on the leaves. As a result, you must prune dying leaves and clean up moldy or dusty foliage.
Infested prayer plants can also be treated with neem oil. Pesky pests can also be mechanically removed using a hose with a high-pressure nozzle.
To find out more about this, head on to our article about the causes of browning in Calathea louisae.
Calathea louisae is commonly propagated through dividing, specifically, root division. The prayer plant is propagated not just to increase its number, but also to make sure that it is the right size to enable proper maintenance.
Before propagation, prepare the repotting materials such as pots with drainage holes. The pot should be large enough to support baby samplings. The same soil that you used for the mother plant is best to use for the newly planted baby calathea.
The best time to propagate calathea louisae is before or during springtime.
Propagate prayer plants by:
- Carefully take out the entire plant. As its roots are easily broken, extra care is important in undergoing this procedure.
- Inspection of roots is necessary to avoid growing an already disease-infected plant. Calathea louisae has a natural small separation in its root system.
- Repot or transfer the new Calathea louisae plants into the pots with fresh, moist soil.
- Water the new samplings, making sure it is properly drained.
- Covering the samplings with plastic is suggested to provide a greenhouse environment.
- Once there are new growths observed, remove the plastic, and the plant is now ready as a parent plant.
Compare this with another variety of Calathea in our article about the full guide on how to grow Calathea ornata.
How to take care of newly propagated Calathea louisae?
Baby samplings of Calathea louisae are more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and dying than a mother plant. Therefore, extra care and attention must be given. The newly propagated plants should also receive high humidity, warm temperatures, well-drained soil, sufficient watering, and indirect light.
Is calathea louisae pet-friendly?
Calathea louisae is non-toxic to both cats and dogs. This plant is considered by many home garden owners as a friendly and safe plant for their pets.
Mimicking the original environment of calathea louisae such as having 7 to 10-inch plastic planters with drainage holes, moist and well-drained soil, indirect sunlight, more than 50% humidity, a temperature of 65–85°F, and monthly application of 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer must be achieved for the prayer plant to thrive well.
Prayer plants are shade-loving but love bright light. Indirect light provides optimum growth while direct light can cause damage. Nonetheless, Calathea louisae is easy to propagate, but extra care should be taken for the newly propagated plant saplings.