How to Care for Calathea Picturata ‘Argentea’

Calathea picturata ‘Argentea’ is an evergreen, delicate perennial that’s perfect indoors. This plant flaunts oval leaves that are silvery-green, with a dark green band around the edges and red undersides on tall stems carried singly.

Stick around to learn all you need to know about the beautiful Calathea picturata.

Overview of Calathea Picturata

Calathea picturata is a plant in the Marantaceae family, specifically the Goeppertia genus, native to northwest Brazil. The picturata’s common name is Silver Variegated Calathea.

This plant is often cultivated as a houseplant because of its stunning and nicely patterned leaves. This genus, which originated in tropical America, is home to a number of endangered species.

It’s a clump-forming evergreen perennial that reaches up to 13-16 inches in height. It’s sensitive, and is grown as a houseplant in temperate climates.

The cultivar ‘Argentea,’ with silver leaves bordered in green, has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit under the synonym Goeppertia picturata.

Calathea Picturata comes in two primary varieties: crimson and silver, and both are equally stunning.

Calathea Picturata plants

How Often Should You Water a Calathea Picturata?

Calathea picturata needs constant watering and dislikes being allowed to dry out.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should water them every day; they won’t thrive in waterlogged soil, after all. Feel the top two inches of soil using your finger and give your plant water as soon as it begins to dry out. Don’t wait until the pot has dried out.

Reduce watering throughout the winter months and only water the plant when the top inch of soil dries up between waterings.

Use distilled or rainfall water because this plant is sensitive to fluoride and salts in tap water.

Note: it’s probable that you’re overwatering your plant if the leaves start to turn yellow. If your leaves curl in on themselves or begin to droop, it’s an indication that you’re drowning your plant.

How Much Light Does a Calathea Picturata Need?

Calathea picturata, like most Calathea varieties, should be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid leaf scorch. This doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as this plant grows on forest and jungle floors, where they receive minimal light through the tops of the trees.

Direct sunlight will damage the leaves of a Calathea plant, causing it to lose its bright colors. It’s best to place your plant in front of the east, west, or north-facing window.

What Temperature Do Calathea Picturata Like?

Calathea picturata, like other popular houseplants, prefers temperatures in the 65°F to 85°F (18°C–30°C) range. This temperature range is comparable to its tropical native habitat. Keep the temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15°C) to avoid cold damage.

What Is the Best Soil for Calathea Picturata?

Calatheas grows best on aerated, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.5. For plants to reach their full potential, the soil mix must have enough water retention and nutrient requirements.

Look for materials such as compost, pine bark, coco coir, worm castings, and perlite. These are nutrient-dense and help in moisture retention.

Picturata requires a regular, well-balanced, well-draining potting mix. A conventional potting mix with perlite and orchid bark might be a good combination.

When picking the best soil for your plants, look for the following properties:

  • Good aeration. Aeration keeps the potting soil from becoming too compact because it contains small, permeable holes that allow water and nutrients to move through it and into the roots of plants.
  • Moisture retention. This refers to the soil’s ability to store enough water to keep it moist and soggy after it has been drained.
  • Nutritious. A high-quality potting soil will have greater amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and micronutrients than a normal potting mix.
  • Moderate water flow. Water can pass through well-drained soil at a moderate rate, preventing pooling.

Does Calathea Picturata Need Humidity?

Calathea leaves

Calatheas are happiest when the humidity level is above 80%, but anything above 60% should suffice to keep them healthy. Your plant’s growth may be slowed below that level, and its foliage may turn curled, crispy, and brown.

Because this is a moist-loving plant, we recommend using a humidifier to raise the humidity levels in your house.

Choosing the perfect location is also important; try placing your plant in a well-lit area of your bathroom or kitchen, and keep it away from hot air vents. Excessive direct sunshine also worsens existing humidity problems.

You can also make a humidity tray to give a moist and stable environment for a long-lasting specimen.

How to Fertilize Your Calathea Picturata?

Picturata can be sensitive to fertilizer, and if the mixture is too strong, it might cause leaf scorching.

Fertilize Calatheas with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer, one with a 10/10/10 NPK ratio (Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium), in the spring and summer.

You can also fertilize every two weeks during the growing season with a half-diluted liquid fertilizer. This is something that may be done on a monthly basis instead.

Remember not to fertilize during the winter months.

What Is the Best Pot for Calathea Picturata?

Terra cotta drains away excess moisture, keeping the soil at an ideal moisture level. However, if you live in a dry area or have a propensity to under-water, try using a plastic pot.

Excess water can cause root rot in pots, so make sure they have a drainage hole.

When to Repot a Calathea Picturata?

Although you can repot a picturata at any time of the year as long as you offer good conditions after repotting, early spring is the best time.

After repotting, most Calatheas take some time to adapt. Some plants’ foliage may display signs of stress, such as brown leaf edges or yellowing lower leaves.

By repotting in the spring, your plant enters a fast growth phase, and after a period of adjustment, it should generate a lot of healthy growth throughout the growing season.

You can then cut off any damaged or aesthetically unappealing leaves, allowing your plant to quickly recover.

How to Propagate a Calathea Picturata?

The Calathea picturata can be propagated by root division. We would not advise attempting to take cuttings because it’s extremely unlikely to work.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. You’ll need to take your picturata plant out of the pot so you can divide the root system to find the various parts. Pull your Calathea out of the mix, then shake off the excess that surrounds the roots.
  2. Next, start running your fingers through the plant’s roots to separate them and loosen the soil.
  3. If your plant has various offshoots, it will be clear while looking for a part of the plant to divide. They will be fully separate, with growth coming from the center of each part.
  4. If they don’t detangle easily, you may need to clip the strange root, but you should be able to carefully pull the sections apart.
  5. It’s fine if you have to slice around the plant a little to separate them, but make sure that each section of the plant has enough root system to promote propagation.
  6. Return the main mother plant to its original pot and decide whether the offshoot should be placed in water first or in potting mix right away.
  7. If you think the roots need to grow a little more, we recommend putting them in water as an intermediate step.
  8. If your cutting is now in fresh potting mix, you can treat it like any other Calathea plant.
  9. If it’s in water at first, you’ll want to change the water every few days then repot it into potting mix once the roots have matured.

Common Issues That Calathea Picturata Faces

1.    Fluoride Toxicity

Fluoride toxicity causes chlorosis or a burned appearance in the leaves. The damage usually starts at the tips of the leaves.

If you feel your water is high in fluoride, try adding small amounts of hydrated lime on a regular basis and watering it in.

2.    Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny, nearly transparent creatures that drain the chlorophyll from the plants. Look for little webs and gritty yellow spots under the leaves, especially along the midrib.

3.    Brown Tips

Brown tips happen due to the lack of humidity. If only the tips of your plant are brown, your water may contain too many minerals or contaminants.

4.    Fungus Gnats

It’s possible that the high soil humidity created a great home for fungus gnats if you detect little insects that appear like fruit flies surrounding your plants. They’re harmless, but they can be a bother.

Submerge the pot in water to water your plant from the bottom, and try to keep the first inch of soil dry.


Calathea plant on display

Picturata is loved for the vivid presence that it lends to any place, thanks to its ethereal beauty and vibrant foliage.

Calathea plants have a reputation for being divas, but if you understand their requirements, they aren’t too tricky to care for.

Hopefully, this article answered all of your questions about these lovely plants and made caring for them a bit easier.