If you consider yourself to be a plant-lover, which you likely do if you find yourself here, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that you are familiar with the striking beauty and uniqueness held by the Calathea family.
Appearance: Recognized by its oval-shaped leaves with dark or light green, silver, and white markings, with a dark purple or maroon underside, the Calathea Medallion (or Calathea Veitchiana) has quickly become a well-loved house plant.
Luckily, it offers relatively straightforward care requirements – especially when considering the beauty you receive in return!
Origin: Native to the tropical forests of Central & South America, the Medallion is a cultivar (a variety produced through selective breeding) of the Calathea Roseopicta
Calathea Medallion Indoor Care
Calathea Medallions do best in bright indirect light, where they can receive 6 or more hours of sun each day.
Avoid a placement with direct sun exposure as that can lead to leaf burning which will eventually kill your plant. Keep in mind that if you chose a location with too much shade, your plant will begin to lose its markings.
2. Soil Mixture
Calathea Medallions need moisture-retaining, well-draining soil to thrive. I recommend a classic 2-1 mixture; two parts peat, coco coir, or potting mix, one part perlite, or orchid bark.
This creates a well-draining, yet moisture-retaining mixture, something thirsty Calathes need.
Calatheas hail from the tropics, so it’s no surprise that they like it warm and humid. A temperature range between 65 – 85°F is ideal (18-29°C), while temps under 60°F (15°C) for prolonged periods of time will cause black spots to appear on the leaves.
Regarding humidity, 50% is a bare-minimum benchmark, but ideally, you’re shooting for 70%.
If that’s too high of a percentage to reach naturally in your home, consider adding a humidifier to the room in which your plant resides, or placing the plant in a naturally humid room like the kitchen or bathroom.
Your Calathea will communicate loud and clear if it finds its environment to be too dry. The biggest sign to look out for is the browning along the leaf’s edges or tips.
Calatheas like moist soil, but not saturated (careful here as saturation can lead to problems like root rot). The rule of thumb is that once you bring your plant home, give it a thorough watering to kick-start your soon-to-be-established watering schedule.
From here, the exact timeframe you’ll need to water will vary heavily upon your specific conditions, but an easy, well-loved practice is to water whenever the top inch of soil has become dry.
Calathea Medallions are picky when it comes to water they want to drink too. The salts and minerals commonly found in tap water can cause irritation and harm, so it is highly recommended to use distilled, filtered, or rainwater.
If none of these are options, leave an uncovered bowl of tap water out overnight, and then give your plant a drink with that.
Use a general houseplant fertilizer containing phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen (the big 3 nutrients) – diluting it to ¼ strength – feeding approximately once every four weeks during the growing season (spring, summer, and fall).
Cut fertilizer use entirely during winter when growing naturally slows or goes dormant.
7. Size / Growth
Indoors, the Calathea Medallion produces 5 – 10-inch-wide leaves and stands anywhere from 2 – 3 feet in height when fully grown.
Calathea Medallions do require repotting, though on a relatively infrequent basis. You should never be repotting more than once a year, but the most common timeframe is every two years.
How do you know if it’s time? Look to see if roots are popping out of the top of the soil or trying to creep out of the drainage holes. Always repot in spring-early summer.
- Remove the plant from its pot and rinse away all excess dirt, checking your roots to ensure they’re healthy. Trim away any unhealthy roots.
- If you are looking to grow your plant, use a pot no more than 2 inches larger than your current pot. If you’re just needing to maintain, you’ll use the same pot, thoroughly rinsing it before replacing the plant.
- Fill your new (or old) pot with your soil mixture, making it so the top of your plant sits about 1 inch below the rim of the planter when sitting on the new soil base.
- Fill in the remaining open areas with your soil mixture and give your plant a good drink – as always, thoroughly moist, but not saturated.
Hold off on fertilization for about one month after repotting to avoid shocking the roots while they try to reacclimate.
- From rhizomes: To propagate from a rhizome (the plant stem growing horizontally underground), locate a brown one at least 1 inch long. Use a clean and sharp blade to cut the rhizome in half, ensuring to keep at least one leaf and some of the roots intact.
- From plant division: Find the place where the leaf stems separate at the soil. Pull them apart gently while being sure to not tear or harm the roots.
Whichever option you choose, place your newly propagated plant in your soil mixture, give it a drink and place it (if not already there) in a space of ideal growing conditions – bright, indirect light, humid and warm.
Helpful tip: Try propagating at the same time as repotting to avoid shocking the roots more times than necessary!
10. Plant Toxicity
Sheer beauty aside, one of our favorite things about the Calathea Medallion might just be that it is not known as toxic to cats, dogs, or humans – so enjoy!
11. Common Pests & Disease
Common Pests: Although we wish it weren’t so, plants have pests, and the same holds true for your Calathea Medallion. The most common pests you may encounter are aphids, thrips, spider mites, and mealybugs.
For prevention purposes, try to check the underside of your plant’s leaves weekly, keeping an eye out for small white dots (eggs) or webbing.
If you happen to find yourself with a pest (or two) move the affected plant away from any others to prevent spread, and then begin a regimen of wiping down the plant’s leaves with distilled water and isopropyl alcohol 1 – 2 times a week for a month.
Applying neem oil or using insecticide wipes weekly is also a common, effective solution.
Root Rot: The most common disease that affects Calathea Medallions is root rot.
If you notice discolored or yellow leaves, you might consider removing your plant from its pot to check the roots.
If root rot is found, and it has not spread to the majority of the roots, simply trim away all affected (black and smelly) roots, thoroughly wash the pot and replace the entire soil mixture as the old mix has been infected.
If the majority of roots have rotted, your plant has died.
FAQ – Calathea Medallion Care
Q. Calathea Medallion vs. Calathea Roseopicta – What’s the Difference?
Think of the difference between these two like a mother and child where Calathea Roseopicta is the “mom” and Calathea Medallion is the “child”.
Simply put, the Medallion was bred from Roseopictas to have its specific, beautiful traits. All Medallions are types of Roseopictas whereas the reverse is not true.
Q. Why does my Calathea Medallion have Brown Edges?
If your plant’s leaves are browning, the most likely culprits are not humid enough conditions, and water chemicals.
If it’s just the tips showing browning, it’s likely that your Calathea is just needing a humidity boost! To fix, begin spritzing the leaves (affected and otherwise) daily to keep them moist, move the plant into a more naturally humid room or bring in a humidifier.
If a good portion of the leaf’s edges are browning, it is likely due to salts and minerals in your tap water. Combat this by using a filtered or distilled option when watering.
Q. Why does my Calathea Medallion have Yellow Leaves?
Yellowing leaves on a Calathea Medallion are usually a sign of incorrect watering practices and water chemicals.
If your plant is receiving too much water, your leaves will yellow – and be very cautious here as this is a key sign of root rot!
If your plant is receiving too little water, it too will cause your leaves to yellow. Adjust your practices as necessary, taking into account the information posted above under “Watering”.
Just like in leaf browning, yellowing leaves are often caused by the Calathea Medallion’s low tolerance for salts and minerals in standard tap water. Adjust your methods using the same suggestions as above.
Q. Why are the Leaves on my Calathea Medallion Curling?
Unsurprisingly so, curling on your plant’s leaves can indicate…you guessed it, watering and humidity issues!
Address these issues using the same tactics we’ve suggested above.
In Summary: Truly, a wide variety of care issues can cause any of the above concerns, and many symptoms might show up at the same time.
To avoid any coloring changes or curling, simply do your best to keep on a consistent, healthy watering schedule, use the proper amount (and type) of fertilizer, and stick to ideal humidity, lighting and temperature conditions. Your Calathea Medallion will thank you in the most beautiful ways.