How to Save a Dying Calathea Plant

The Calathea is a popular choice among many plant enthusiasts. It is perfect for indoor gardens, offering bright green aesthetics that can liven up any interior. Aside from that, they are also relatively easy to care for. In fact, some of the plant enthusiasts in our gardening circle even believe that the Calathea might be a good way to begin one’s gardening journey.

The Calathea plant, well-loved especially for its variegated types may be great to look at, but they require specific conditions in order to thrive. When these factors are not met, then you’ll end up with a lackluster plant. Thus, in this article, we are going to share some tips on how to save a dying Calathea plant.

Aside from that, we are also going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our readers about how to care for your Calathea and ensure that it’s always healthy and pretty.


Made up of around 60 species, Calathea plants are native to Brazil. Due to their decorative leaves and, in some of the species under this plant type, colorful inflorescences, Calatheas have become popular as potted indoor plants. 

Calatheas have a big family. There are more than 300 species of them in the world. Some of the most well-known Calathea varieties are makoyana (or the Peacock Plant), zebrina (or the Zebra Plant), crocata (or the Eternal Flame), and ornata (or the Femme Fatale).  Collectively, Calatheas are also called “prayer plants” because their leaves characteristically fold together at night. 

The best thing we love about Calatheas, though, is that they are also known to be non-toxic to pets一something that we really appreciate as pet parents ourselves.

What Causes a Calathea Plant to Look “Lifeless”?

As we have mentioned, prayer plants can be really low-maintenance, provided that they are growing in the right conditions. Something that you should really keep in mind is that the Calathea is a tropical plant that naturally grows under trees. 

This means that they don’t tolerate a lot of sun and water, but they do prefer humidity a little bit more than other plants. 

That being said, they also don’t do well during the winter months. This is also one of the reasons why we keep our Calatheas indoors. 

Don’t worry, though, since we are going to share with you the best ways to get a droopy plant back to life.

Why are My Calla Lily Leaves Curling?

How to Save a Dying Calathea Plant

The first sign that your Calathea is not doing so well, is when you notice its leaves starting to drop and gradually turning brown and crispy. There are also times when their leaves turn yellow and curl.

What’s the Underlying Issue?

The first step towards Calathea plant revival is to properly diagnose the symptoms and determine the possible causes. 

Calatheas with drooping and crispy leaves are a sign that they are not getting enough humidity and hydration. 

If their leaves are turning yellow, then it could be that your plant is waterlogged. As a tropical rainforest plant, Calatheas don’t really like getting their roots soggy all the time. This can interfere with their roots’ ability to breathe and absorb nutrients. 

Yellowing leaves is also a symptom of overfertilizing. Keep in mind that prayer-plants are not heavy feeders.

Finally, if your plant’s leaves are curling, then it’s a red flag that it’s not adapting well to the current temperatures. The ideal temperature for a prayer plant ranges from 65 to 75° F.

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Tips on How to Revive Your Prayer Plant

Don’t worry, though. Not all hope is lost. Here are some tips on how to get your plant back to its original splendor:

Adjust your watering game. Calatheas love to drink, yet so many of us still make the mistake of light watering. 

Light watering only allows moistening the soil’s top inch, failing to infiltrate the rest of the soil and the roots at the bottom of the pot. Unfortunately, this can cause your plant to wither away. 

Thus, be generous with watering. The current conditions of your home would help dictate the frequency of the watering. For instance, your prayer plant will need more watering during the summer, but probably not so much during the colder months. 

Here’s a tip: feel your soil. Make sure that its soil always feels moist, but not to the point that it’s oversaturated. 

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Keep it away from artificial air currents. Air currents, such as those coming from your heater or air conditioner, can rob your plant of its needed humidity to survive.

Fortunately, this issue can easily be remedied. You can mist your plant regularly to recreate their dewy natural environment. Depending on the season, we usually do this twice a week一or even more during particularly dry months. 

Here’s a tip: fill a shallow tray with pebbles and water. Then, place your pot on top. Make sure that its bottom won’t really have a direct contact with standing water that can lead to root rot. You simply want the water there for the humidity it can provide, whenever necessary.

Or better yet, just place it in a room with a humidifier. This is probably the most convenient method, especially if you already have one at home.

Change the location of your plant. Calatheas grow well in indirect light rather than under the full sun. Too much sunlight tends to damage their moisture-loving leaves, making them appear scorched and faded.

Repot it. One of the most common reasons why prayer-plants die is getting waterlogged. This happens when 1) your Calathea is planted in really dense soil, or 2) its pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes. 

If that’s the case then we highly advise you to repot your plant as soon as possible. Choose a potting mix that has good moisture retention while also being well-draining at the same time. Our personal formula is to mix three parts of our potting mix with one part of perlite.

As for the pot, they should have a lot of drainage holes that will let excess water stream out easily. You can place a tray underneath to prevent water from spilling out all over your home. Just make sure to remember to empty it regularly so that your plant won’t sit on standing water for long.

Finally, scale down on the feeding. As we have mentioned Calatheas don’t really need much fertilizer. We find that feeding it with a half-strength fertilizer once a month during its active seasons is more than enough for it to thrive. 

If you fear that you have fed it excessively, then we recommend giving it a good watering of distilled water to wash away any buildup.

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Calathea Plant Revival FAQs

We sincerely hope that the tips we have shared with you above are enough to nurse your Calathea back to health. Allow us to answer some of the most frequently asked questions our readers ask about Calathea plant revival for further information;

Can you bring calathea back to life?

What can be done is to help your Calathea recover, as discussed above. The success rate depends on how severe the stress that your plant has gone through. That being said, if you are quick to remedy its issues before all of its foliage are showing signs of ill health, then we’re pretty confident that you’ll be able to “bring it back to life”. 

Should I cut dead leaves off calathea?

Pruning will do well for struggling Calatheas. After all, doing so will help redirect its efforts towards recovery instead of reviving dead leaves. You don’t always have to cut entire leaves off, though. For instance, if only the tips are turning brown, then you may simply cut off those parts.

On the other hand, go ahead and prune completely dead leaves. It is best to use a knife or a pair of scissors to cut the affected leaf near the stem, to help the plant focus its efforts on regrowing healthy ones.

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Why is my Calathea fading?

This is sometimes a sign that your plant is getting too much sunlight. There are even cases when your Calathea’s leaves may even look quite translucent. If that’s the case, then simply relocate your plant elsewhere.

Why are my calathea leaves curling and turning brown?

The most common cause of leaf curling in Calatheas (other than their usual folding every night) is being exposed to cold temperatures. Again, the best solution is to simply transfer your plant to a warmer, yet still well-lighted, location.

How can we save Overwatered Calathea?

As discussed above, the best step is to repot your plant. Free it from the bondage of compact soil and a poor-draining pot. Instead, you should transfer it to a container that will allow any excess water to escape.

How Often Should You Water Calla Lilies?

The Bottom Line

For us, Calatheas remains one of the most beautiful tropical indoor plants out there. They don’t need a lot of care, but they do require certain growing conditions to stay healthy. We simply hope that we have provided enough tips on how to save a dying Calathea plant. After all, we know the pain of losing a plant friend all too well. Good luck and happy planting!