Known for its beautiful contrasting patterned foliage, Cathelea white star is a statement plant that’s a staple in every retro office decor.
The Calathea white star is a cultivar of Ornata species. This graceful plant originates from the Latin rainforests of Brazil and Columbia.
Calathea white star is a diva plant in both appearance and behavior. It shows colorful foliage with bright white pinstripes and subtle pink hues alongside dark purple undersides that are a pleasure to the eye. Yet, it’s needy and not the easiest to care for.
In this guide, we’ll tell you about the Calathea white star.
- Scientific Name: Goeppertia Majestica
- Common Name: White star calathea, Calathea majestic, Zebra plant
- Type: Tropical evergreen
- Growth Rate: Moderate
- Average Height: 4 – 5 ft.
- Ideal Light: Indirect (low – medium)
- Ideal Temperature: 65 – 77 °F
- Ideal Humidity: 50 – 60%
- Flowering: No flowers
- Toxicity: Safe to humans and pets
- Common Problems: Root rot, leaf spots, burnt tips
Native to the rainforests of Brazil, the Calathea white star requires a tropical environment with above-average humidity, proper-draining soil, and indirect sunlight. For the plant to thrive, you need to mimic these conditions, with is not the easiest thing to do indoors.
However, if you know the plant’s needs well, you’ll be able to deliver.
Calathea white star prefers nutrient-dense soil that’s moist rather than wet. You need soil with proper aeration that drains well while retaining enough moisture. A fast-draining soil means that the roots of the Calathea white star get proper airflow to grow, and it won’t get the opportunity to develop root rot due to having too much water around the roots.
The ideal potting mix for Calathea white star is achieved by adding perlite, orchid bark, and activated charcoal to the regular garden soil. Orchid bark is a handy soil amendment that provides drainage while maintaining moisture retention. It’ll absorb the excess water without drying out the soil.
Activated charcoal is a key ingredient in multiple potting mixes, where it helps keep the soil ‘clean’ by preventing root rot and repelling pests. Adding equal amounts of orchid bark and activated charcoal would balance the soil and make it fluffier.
You can add half their amount of perlite to help with soil aeration. In addition, there’s an organic material extracted from coconut called coconut coir that can absorb water up to 10 times its weight. Adding it to your potting mix will improve the draining.
If you like being extra, you can throw some worm casting in the mix. Adding 10% of worm casting would boost your soil, providing it with nutrients and regulating its pH levels.
While you can DIY the perfect potting soil for your Calathea white star, some of us just prefer pre-made mixes. You can find one at your local gardener’s or get a premium potting mix online. FoxFarm’s ocean forest potting soil and the Miracle-Gro mix are both super convenient for Calatheas.
Here are signs to look for if you are suspicious the soil isn’t suitable for the Calathea white star.
- Soil is tightly compact or hard.
- Soil doesn’t dry out within a week, indicating drainage problems.
- Calathea leaves wilting, curling, or discoloring.
- Bad soil smell due to root rot.
Determining a specific watering schedule for the Calathea white star would be inaccurate at best because many factors come to play here; your plant’s size, soil conditions, aeration, and humidity.
The rough estimation is that you need to water Calathea white star once a week. Yet, the best practice is to observe your plant and water it when needed until you develop a schedule.
The rule of thumb here is to dip your finger into the top layers of the soil to see if it’s dry. If you find it dry, then you need to water your plant. Calathea white star thrives in moist soil, and its leaves shrivel easily when the soil dries out.
Beware not to overwater it, though. Calathea white star is susceptible to root rot, which happens when the roots sit in excess water. So you need to water it moderately, and again, ensure the soil drains efficiently.
Use distilled or filtered water when you water the Calathea white star. Like most calatheas, salty water results in crisp tips and yellow leaves, while tap water might burn the leaves due to excess chlorine.
To promote its growth, you can use diluted fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the period between March to September. Don’t overdo it, though. Overfertilizing is tough to treat.
Calathea white star gets its faded leaf markings due to abundant but indirect sunlight that it gets in the canopies of rainforests in Brazil, its hometown. To recreate this effect, expose your Calathea white star to the early morning sun. Bright but indirect lighting is as close as it gets in resembling the plant’s natural habitat.
Lighting conditions of the Calathea white star are tricky, though. Too little light and the leaves wilt, too much light, and they scorch. You need to keep a close eye on them.
It’s no question then to keep your Calathea away from the window during the afternoon. If you can’t move it, make sure to have some sheer drapes to give them the ‘canopy’ effect they get at forests.
Again, we need to mimic the tropical environment of the Calthea white star for it to thrive. When it comes to humidity, a minimum of 50% is required to keep the plant in tip-top condition.
Even better, a 60% humidity complemented with 65-77 °F would be ideal for the plant. Any drop in humidity will result in burnt leaves and crisp tips. Thus, these should be your indicators when it comes to humidity.
To monitor your plant’s humidity level, you might use a hygrometer. It’s handy, affordable, and gives you accurate readings of humidity and temperature, as well.
Calathea white star is a fussy plant, especially in winter, where it gets harder to replicate its natural environment. You might need the help of an air humidifier in this case, especially since you’ll probably be keeping your plant indoors.
Alternatively, you can mist the leaves of the calathea white star twice a week to simulate its rainy habitat.
The ideal temperature for Calathea white star ranges between 65 and 77 °F. It can withstand temperatures up to 90 °F. Being the South American plants they are, Calatheas love a humid, warm environment.
You need to avoid cold, drafty rooms at all costs when choosing a location for your plant. It’s also a nice idea to group calatheas together, where they can create a greenhouse effect.
As we mentioned before, Calatheas aren’t big fans of cold temperatures. If you realize some sudden changes in your plant, like curled and droopy leaves, then it might be too cold for them. One of the common symptoms of Calatheas being in lower temperatures is that they stop their ‘praying’ movement, where leaves move upward during the day and lower at night.
Speaking of greenhouses, Calatheas, in general, are perfect candidates for terrariums, as they provide them with the needed humidity, indirect lighting, and relatively high temperature.
You can propagate your Calathea white star during repotting. The most common method to propagate it is through root division. Before we get into the details of this method, you need to know that you can’t do it in winter so as not to shock the plant. Propagation is best done during the plant’s development phase, optimally, in spring.
Done correctly, the Calathea white star will propagate along the span of a year.
Here are the steps to propagate Calathea white star through root division.
The root cutting procedure should be speedy to retain moisture and not hurt the parent plant.
Before you start, make sure you have your new pots ready with the proper soil mixture. Ideally, you need plastic pots with drainage holes for the Calathea white star to thrive.
Carefully, take out the plant from its pot. You might need to place a newspaper or so underneath it to keep things tidy. If the roots are deeply entangled into the soil, you can use a knife to expose them. You’ve got to be super careful, though.
Ensure that the stems are disentangled, then divide the roots carefully. Throughout this process, you need to keep the root bulbs intact so as not to damage your plant.
Now all that’s left to do is plant your new root with its stem cluster into the pot you’ve already prepared. Water them well, put them in indirect lighting, and leave them to settle in their new environment.
Don’t forget to get the old plant back to its pot!
Like any plant, the Calathea white star is prone to a bunch of problems. In this section, we’ll walk you through these problems, how to spot them, and ways of treatment.
If there happen to be brown spots on the undersides of the calathea white star leaves, it probably means that it’s suffering from rust fungus.
In most cases, rust fungus is a result of an unbalanced pH level of the plant. These spots need a wet environment to replicate, so your plant might be overwatered, or there might be a problem with aeration.
Treating rust fungus is easy. All you need to do is prune the infected leaves. First, make sure to leave no traces of these spots. Then, use a fungicide spray to treat the infection.
Spider Mites are frequent visitors to Calatheas. They love a dry environment, so you’ll probably find them during winter.
Keeping the environment humid is key here. Ensure that the humidity level around the plant is more than 60%, and maybe mist the leaves to ensure you nip the problem in the bud.
They’re the nightmare of every gardener. Mealybugs are these nasty cotton-like masses that appear on the leaves, stem cervices, and sometimes even the soil.
If the case is mild, you can use neem oil to remove the bugs using Q-tips. However, in case of spread infestations, it’s better to use an insecticide to ensure it gets it all.
If you spot rice-like brown discs on the stem or the undersides of your calathea white star, then it’s probably the scale. You’ll also likely find a sticky substance all around because these insects produce honeydew to feed the ant colonies.
To treat a scale infection, use a cotton swab soaked in alcohol to dissolve the spots. Using neem oil insecticides also works magic in this case.
You might encounter some other problems with your calathea, like droopy or yellow leaves. In this section, we’ll help you identify these problems and treat them.
If your Calathea’s foliage starts to fade out and the leaves droop, it’s probably because it needs watering. While Calathea white star loves slightly moist soil, it doesn’t tolerate drought.
Water your Calathea if the leaves droop, and they shall get back to normal within a couple of days.
There are a couple of reasons here. It might be due to low humidity or hard water. Use a hygrometer to ensure the humidity levels are suitable for your plant. If not, make sure to use distilled water.
This means that the temperature is too low for the Calathea white star. Make sure it’s in a warm, humid place and away from drafty rooms.
It’s a sign of overwatering your plant. All you need to do is cut off the yellow, wilted leaves and regulate your watering amount and frequency.
Calathea white stars are needy plants that demand attention and care. Yet, they’re well worth it. Simply try to recreate a mini tropical environment for them within your home, and they shall thrive!