Calathea, Peacock Plant, Zebra Plant

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

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Calathea spp.

How to keep them thriving indoors in Melbourne!

Please Note: The information below is specific to this particular variety. For more detailed notes on the general growing conditions required for all Indoor Plants, check out our ‘Growing Indoor Plants Successfully’ factsheet.

Calatheas are absolutely gorgeous desk top plants with beautiful leaves. They generally keep to a nice small size, making them perfect for impact, but not too space consuming. Very easy to manage once you get them in the right position. Calathea makoyana are known as Peacock Plants and have beautiful markings on their leaves with purple to burgundy undersides to the leaves. Calathea zebrina has wonderful velvety textured and coloured leaves. Both these species add subtle colour and texture into your indoor plants.


In the warmer months, water after the top of the potting mix has dried out. In the cooler months, or in cool air-conditioned environment, water less often (potting mix can dry out in between waterings). Water until water runs out of the base, then make sure all water has drained away and the pot is not sitting in water. Over watering will make it rot.


Moderate indirect light. Avoid bright or direct light. If light is too low the foliage colour will suffer.

Temperature and humidity

Ideally keep between 15C and 30C. Prefers consistent conditions, rapid drops in air temperature can damage the foliage. Likes a humid environment. The simplest solution is often to put the pot on small stones or blocks to keep it raised, and fill the saucer or slip pot beneath with water. The water evaporates increasing humidity, but keeping the pot raised allows the free drainage essential to a happy indoor plant. If the leaf margins roll in or crisp up, this is an indication that humidity may be too low.


Fertilise monthly in spring and summer with half strength liquid fertiliser. Fertilise twice in winter and autumn.


Wipe leaves occasionally with a damp cloth. Cut off any tatty leaves at the base. Prune in the autumn to reshape as needed. Removing older leaves encourages new ones.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden


Repot in spring as needed, maybe every 2-3 years. Can be divided at this time.


Mealy bug

Spray with white oil or pest oil.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Spider mites

Increase humidity and spray carefully with natrasoap.

Leaves with brown curled edges, spotty or prematurely yellowing

This indicates the plant is too dry or humidity is too low. Increase watering.

Dull leaves

Often the result of too much light.