The Calathea Makoyana, or peacock plant, is a gorgeous indoor plant. It can grow to about two feet tall in dense, upright foliage.
Its foliage has a feathered effect that starts at the center and spreads to the outer edges. Mature leaves typically grow 10 to 12 inches. New blades have a pinkish tinge. As they mature, they turn into a deeper shade of green or purplish-red.
If you’re interested in learning more about the peacock plant, you’ve come to the right place! We rounded up all the basics to help you keep this stunning houseplant in good health.
Let’s get started.
The Calathea Makoyana is a tropical plant native to the rainforests of East Brazil. It gets its name from its bright, contrasting pink, purplish-red, and green leaves that can brighten up any room.
Yet, being as gorgeous and colorful as they are, these plants need full-time care and attention. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to care for your peacock plant.
When it comes to peacock plants, you have to keep the soil nice and moist. At the same time, it should never get to the point of being soggy.
When the topsoil layer starts to feel slightly dry, add just enough water for the soil to feel moist. If water starts dripping out of the drainage holes that means you’ve added too much. Bear in mind that overwatering can lead to pests and diseases.
In winter, Calathea Makoyana won’t need as much water because it’s less active during this time. So, make sure the top inch of the soil is completely dry before giving your plant more water.
Here are a couple of ways to tell if you’ve been over or underwatering your peacock plants:
- Yellow leaves: the plant is immersed in more water than it needs and it’s killing its roots
- Brown leaves: the plant isn’t getting the proper amounts of water they need to survive
Peacock plants are happier when they’re in limited or dim lighting. Since they’re native to rainforests, they‘re used to being in the underwoods and have adapted to having less light. The best place would be at a north-facing window where the light is dim and less direct.
If it’s in a room where there’s lots of direct light, place it as far away from the windows as you can. Direct sunlight will cause the leaves and tips to wilt and can impact the plant’s growth.
Tropical houseplants do well in temperature ranges similar to ours. So, it’s better to keep the thermostat between 60℉ and 75℉.
These colorful foliage plants like stable conditions. Keep them away from areas that expose them to drafts, such as:
- Doorways that constantly get opened and closed because of constant foot traffic
- Leaky windows
- Vents that blow cold air in the summertime and hot air in the winter
Being native to tropical forests, peacock plants prefer humid areas. In fact, humidity is one of the major factors that affect their health.
If humidity levels are 60% and over, they’ll grow at a steady rate. On the other hand, if humidity levels drop, it can cause them to become sick. If you see the tips or edges of the leaves turning brown, this could be a sign there’s not enough humidity in the room.
To keep humidity levels steady, use a digital hygrometer. It’ll let you know when humidity levels drop so you can quickly adjust them to the level you want.
Many Calathea owners recommend placing electric humidifiers near the plants. Another option is to place the plants in a tray with an inch of water and pebbles to prevent root rot. You can also mist your plants daily or every other day.
Calathea Makoyana prefers soil that can retain a moderate amount of moisture without holding in excess water. This type of soil should be able to drain any extra moisture to prevent diseases and pest infestations.
Another important feature is proper aeration. The better the airflow in the soil, the less compact and dense the soil will be. This means the roots can take in the ideal amount of nutrients it needs to grow and survive.
Any type of commercial ‘all-purpose’ potting soil will work fine. They usually contain materials that don’t retain water, such as perlite, vermiculite, or pine bark.
Peat moss is also a good choice, but it tends to retain water if used in large quantities. So, avoid putting in too much to prevent the soil from getting too soggy. To balance out your potting mix and boost drainage, simply add a bit of extra sand or perlite to the soil.
Mix all the components in a large pot or bucket. When you’ve got the proportions right, fill your container with the new mixture and add your plants.
The following are the types of soil you should avoid. They’re typically made for different types of plants that have different needs.
- Potting soils for acid-loving plants
- Potting soils for succulents
- Potting soils made of straight coconut coir
- Potting soil made of sphagnum peat moss
Peacock plants need to be fertilized every two to four weeks. Start in early spring and continue until early Autumn. This is when the plant is more active and its growth rates peak.
Alternatively, the plant slows down considerably in the wintertime. So, you don’t need to fertilize it during the colder months.
These plants are quite delicate. They can get finicky if you over-fertilize. The best way to avoid that is to use a water-soluble fertilizer and add water using a 1:1 ratio. Liquid fertilizers can also be watered down.
Whichever fertilizer you pick, make sure it comes with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of 3:1:2. Most experts recommend you pick a fertilizer with more nitrogen. Nevertheless, some brands contain equal amounts of NPK and they work just as well.
Many houseplants tend to overgrow and need to be trimmed and pruned. Your Calalthea, however, isn’t like that. So, you don’t have to bother yourself with pruning.
As your plant ages, the oldest leaves will start to turn various shades of brown or dark yellow. Then, they’ll start to wilt and fall off on their own.
If the leaves change color but don’t fall off, you have to trim the leaves. Using a pair of sharp, sterilized scissors, cut the leaves close to the spot where they meet the main stem.
That being said, some Calathea owners like to prune their plants to maintain their bushy, compact appearance. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, remember to cut the leaf as close to the stem as you can without nicking it.
As with most household plants, the Calathea Makoyana should be repotted anywhere between one to two years. This should be done preferably in the springtime, maybe even early summer.
It’s the perfect time to repot because it’s their period of active growth. So, they can get used to their new pot much faster than if you repot them in the winter.
The first thing you should do when repotting is choose the right size for your new pot. Make sure it’s an inch or two larger than the previous one and has drainage holes.
Fill the pot with new potting soil and compost to give your plant a fresh start. Remember that compost retains water, so don’t overdo it.
If the roots are rootbound, loosen them up carefully. Freeing the roots allows them to absorb more nutrients, thus boosting the plant’s health.
Next, place the plant in the pot. Finally, add the rest of the organic matter and soil to cover up the roots. Gently press down on the top layer and give it some water.
Propagating these indoor plants is easy and hassle-free. All you have to do is choose the right time to repot. Then, as you’re moving your plant from one container to the next, divide the root ball into two sections.
If the root ball is hefty in size, you can get away with dividing it into three separate sections. Then, take each of the baby sections and repot them in brand-new containers with fresh soil.
It should take the plants a few weeks to get used to their new homes. In the meantime, give them a couple of spritzes of water each day to make sure humidity levels are high.
One of the main causes of diseases in the Calathea Makoyana is repeatedly overwatering the plant as we mentioned above. So, it’s important to keep a close eye on your plants and water only when needed.
Below are two of the main diseases that can affect peacock plants:
The pseudomonas leaf spot is a bacterial disease that produces reddish-brown specks on the foliage. These spots weaken the leaves, resulting in their being distorted and bent out of shape.
The good news is that it’s easy to identify this disease. If you notice any spots, remove the affected leaf at once. Then, treat the plant with a bacteriacide, preferably copper-based.
To prevent a recurrence, make sure you keep the foliage dry when watering the plant. If you want to clean the leaves, wipe them off with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust and debris.
As you can guess, root rot happens when there’s too much water accumulating in the pot. As a result, the roots can’t get the nutrients they need from the soil. They also don’t have proper airflow or aeration, which causes the roots to die.
Once the roots become weak and die, the leaves soon follow. They begin to droop, turn yellow, and die off one by one.
These factors create the perfect environment for fungi to grow and spread among the roots and infect the plant. Some of these fungi species include:
Pests are more challenging to deal with than diseases. The insects are small and know how to hide among the foliage, making it harder for you to discover them.
Let’s take a look at the four main types of pests that can infect your Calathea.
Anyone who has indoor plants knows how common aphids can be. These pests find their way to the stem where they attach themselves. Then, gradually, they begin to suck out all the sap, leaving the foliage wilted and distorted. If left unchecked, the leaves will die and fall off.
If you suspect an aphid infestation, prepare a 3:1 mixture of water and dish soap. Then, using a soft cloth, spray the plant and wipe it with the cloth.
Similar to aphids, scales attach themselves to stems, branches, and leaves. These tiny, brown insects feed on the sap until the plant can no longer survive.
Two main types of scales affect peacock plants: armored and soft scale insects. They’re both similar in appearance and size, ranging from 1/8 to 1/2 an inch.
Spider mites can be found on the undersides of the leaves. They pierce the leaves’ waxy exterior and feed on their sap.
A spider mite infestation can be difficult to detect. So, it can be weeks before the plant begins to show signs of physical damage and, by then, it can be too late.
Pet owners will be glad to know that peacock plants are non-toxic to both pets and humans. If ingested, the leaves contain no harmful chemicals.
Yes, peacock plants produce flowers. Their flowers are typically white, small, and elegant that appear sporadically throughout the year.
The flowers appear only on mature plants. They’re most notable for being understated and plain.
Calathea Makoyana is only one type of prayer plant. The main distinguishing feature of prayer plants is that they fold up in half during the night. They got their name because they look like a pair of hands folded in prayer.
The bold and showy Calathea Makoyana (peacock plants) are striking. Their pale green leaves and colorful striations will jazz up any room, providing you treat it right.
Use the tips in our guide and you should have no problems caring for this exquisite plant. Remember, keep your plants happy and they’ll repay you with a display of bright, beautiful colors.