Perhaps, you’ve just seen the stunning Calathea White Star and decided on the spot you have to get one.
Its lovely tapered leaves with white stripes and purplish hue overlaying and dominating the green background color are striking on any day of the week.
Combine that with the dark contrasting burgundy underside of the leaves, the conclusion is a plant oozing royalty.
Good things don’t come easy and the same applies to this Calathea specie. It is a very fussy plant most newbies would find tricky to grow successfully.
You’d have to be on top of your gardening game to nail it.
This Calathea White Star plant care guide would walk you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for it.
And the journey is going to start from the moment you got it. So strap in for the ride!
Calathea White Star: Plant Care Guide
The Calathea white star (Calathea majestica) is a tropical plant originally from the rain forests of South America.
Also known as the Zebra plant due to its stripes or the prayer plant due to its nyctinastic property, it belongs to the Marantaceae plant family: a group of over 500 plant species.
The leaves fold inwards at night and open up again in the presence of light in the morning.
The phenomenon, known as nyctinasty, is unique to all species of prayer plants primarily to conserve water in the leaves.
Being tropical plants, they are mostly grown indoors.
But in agricultural zones 14 and above, they can be cultivated outdoors in the summer months. They are rather finicky, easily showing signs of failing if any aspect of the native growing conditions is lacking.
The Calathea White Star hates being neglected.
In the subsequent sections, we would outline all the care and maintenance routines required for a healthy, thriving plant. We’d also give you the heads up on some problems to look out for and the solutions.
First, what to do after getting the plant and bringing it home for the first time.
How to Acclimate Calathea White Star in a New Environment
Most folks love repotting a store-bought houseplant into a more beautiful pot as soon as they bring it home.
The urge to immediately repot an exquisite beauty like the Calathea White Star is even stronger. It seems perfectly logical to repot it in an equally beautiful pot to sync with the plant’s gorgeousness!
However, they easily react to all sorts of changes negatively. Even the trip from the nursery or garden store can be very stressful for them.
So you don’t want to add a further layer of stress by repotting.
The smart move is to give the plant some weeks to acclimate to the new environment before making drastic changes like repotting.
To help the plant acclimate, do the following:
- Water the soil if the top is dry
- Carefully examine the leaves for signs of pests. Look out for the eggs or larvae. These would appear as white or black spots on the leaves.
There would be more on how to control pests later.
- Use a soft brush to clean dusts from the leaves. This also helps in eliminating any pest and the eggs.
- Keep the plant away from other plants in the first couple of weeks to prevent transferring any unobserved pests to other plants.
Calathea White Star Growing Conditions
Like most houseplants with origins in the tropics, Calathea White Star grows best in loose, well-draining soil. But ‘well-draining’, when it comes to the Calathea, is well above the standard seen in other houseplants.
Basically, you want to use soil that drains very fast to leave the soil slightly moist.
So the potting soil must contain more coarse particles to make this happen.
Any standard potting soil mixed with about 20% activated charcoal and orchid respectively, and about 10% perlite would deliver the drainage needed.
A 2 parts peat and 1-part sand mix added to a potting soil is also a great Calathea potting mix option.
The plant loves filtered or indirect light. You want to keep it a few feet away from the window that gets the most sunlight.
The ideal indoor lighting condition is bright but away from high-intensity light.
However, it won’t hurt the plant if it is exposed to some early morning sun.
Humidity should be kept high or not less than 50%. For dry climates, any of these measures can help create the required humidity:
- Install a humidifier where the plant is
- Place a bowl of water near the plant. Evaporation keeps humidity at a high level
- Alternatively, you can set the pot in a drip tray or saucer containing water. Let the pot sit on pebbles so the base is not in contact with the water.
Again, evaporating water would keep the humidity around the plant high.
- You can also lightly mist the plant with water. Be sure to clean off water droplets on the leaves to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.
The optimal temperature range for the Calathea White Star is 65 – 80°F. Temperatures below 60°F can force dormancy as the plant goes into energy-saving mode.
Calathea White Star Care & Maintenance
When it comes to watering, ensure that the soil is moist or damp, but never overly wet.
With soil that drains quickly, getting it just damp after watering shouldn’t be a problem.
How often to water Calathea White Star? A frequency of about once a week or two weeks is normal.
This is, however, dependent on how soon the soil dries out which also depends on the weather conditions, the size of the pot, the season, and the Calathea’s size.
So scheduling your watering routine on when the soil is dry is smarter than using a fixed time frame.
No matter the schedule though, you’d have to cut back on the amount of water in winter.
A crucial part of your care strategy should include checking the soil moisture regularly using your fingers or a soil moisture probe.
Start checking a week after the last watering session. Stick your finger into the soil and if the top 1 inch is dry, it’s time to water again. If not, wait a couple of days before testing again.
It needs emphasizing again that the soil must be fast draining. Even standard potting soil that retains the amount of water other houseplants is equivalent to over-watering your Calathea.
And this can cause root rot, a hard-to-combat problem.
Finally, the quality of water used is very important to their survival. Using distilled, spring or rainwater is best.
The plant is sensitive to the fluoride in tap water which can cause leaf discoloration or leaf burn.
If tap water is the only option, allow the water to sit in a container for at least 24 hours before using it.
The fluorine and other harmful chemicals in the water should have evaporated by then.
Your Calathea White Star should survive without plant food supplements. The nutrients in the potting soil should be enough for it for at least the first couple of years.
If you must fertilizer though, a small dose of slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half its strength is okay.
Apply the fertilizer about once a month only in the growing season after watering the soil.
Pruning and trimming
As your Calathea ages gracefully, it is normal for the older leaves to turn yellow.
Prune these leaves to maintain the appearance of the plant and promote growth.
Using a sharp pair of scissors or shears with pre-sterilized blades, make the cut where the old leaf meets the main stem.
Sterilizing prevents the transfer of harmful organisms from blades to plants.
Because the broad leaves can easily collect dust and other airborne debris, it is important to clean them with a cloth dampened with a mild soap solution.
As well as removing the dust and dirt to maintain the appearance, it helps to eliminate budding pests colonies on the surface of the leaves.
Repotting Calathea White Star
With fragile roots that breaking easily, you want to be careful when it comes to repotting.
Usually, you should wait until the plant becomes rootbound with the roots poking out of the holes at the bottom.
Rootbound Calatheas do not respond well to watering with drooping leaves an indication of that even after watering.
Repotting can be done every couple of years depending on how fast the plant grows.
Also, the size of the pot would determine when the plant outgrows the pot.
To successfully repot, you need to:
- Use a pot that is one size larger than the current pot
- Use a similar potting soil
Calathea White Star Propagation
The best time to propagate Calathea White Star is in spring giving the plants enough time to acclimate and grow during the growing season.
It is also a great idea to wait until you want to repot the plant to propagate because root division is the only way to do it.
Below are the essential steps for propagating Calathea White Star:
- Uproot the plant from the current pot
- Carefully separate or untangle the roots to create several smaller root clusters.
- Plant the different root clusters in pots containing the ideal potting soil for Calathea White Star
- Water the soil and replicate all Calathea White Star growing conditions around the new plants
Calathea White Star Problems
Brown edges on leaves
Brown edges on Calathea White Star leaf is a common problem and could be caused by any of the following:
- Over-fertilizing or the soil was fertilized when it was dry
- Low humidity
- The use of hard or tap water for irrigation
Simply trim out the discolored sections using sterilized shears, It’s unnecessary to cut the whole leaf.
The leaf would continue to thrive after trimming.
Sticking to the proper care regime described earlier would resolve and prevent this problem.
This is caused mainly by underwatering. The quickest way to diagnose this is to check the soil using your fingers.
If it is bone dry, simply water the plant normally.
Most often, this is caused by over-watering. You want to get ahead of this issue immediately or it would lead to root rot.
To resolve it, quit watering and let the soil dry out. Give it less water when you resume watering because the plant was getting too much water.
This assumes that there is nothing wrong with the soil and drainage.
Curling Calathea White Star leaves is almost always linked to very low temperatures.
Move the plant away from drafty windows, doors, air conditioners, and other cooling sources.
Basically, you either have to find a way to raise the temperature or move the plant to a warmer area.
Calathea White Star Common Pests
Calathea pest infestations are rare, especially when well-cared for. But the possibility of pest attacks is always there.
The common pests you should be worried about include:
Spider mites – They show up as sticky, web-like patches on leaves.
Fungus gnats – The tiny fly-like gnats cause stunted growth and wilting.
Aphids – Mostly found on the underside of leaves and stems as tiny, oval-shaped, brownish spots.
Mealybugs – Tiny, whitish bugs that feed on plant sap causing leaf discoloration.
An important aspect of your plant care routine should include regular inspection of the leaves and stems for signs of these pests.
These infestations can be controlled by spraying the leaves with neem oil or other organic plant insecticides.
Cleaning the leaves with insecticidal soap is also an effective way of getting rid of them.
Keep in mind that you might have to repeat the treatment several times until all pests are eliminated.
The Calathea White Star is a tropical plant with leaf variegation and design that makes it a statement houseplant.
Growing the plant is pretty straightforward in fast-draining soil; but it can be tricky because the plant reacts almost instantly to neglect and overwatering.
The symptoms range from drooping and wilting to discoloration of the leaves.
Calatheas are also susceptible to pest infestations.
But infestations can be prevented quite easily by sticking to the proper care and maintenance regime.
And eliminating these pests, when they appear, is super easy using neem oil.