The Calathea Lutea is a unique plant with a wild look that will spice up any garden or indoor living space! These plants are known for their thin stems and outrageously wide tropical leaves.
Reddish-brown bracts sandwich tiny yellow flowers that positively glow against the deep green leaves. Calathea Lutea are also tall, meaning they are truly a plant that can’t be ignored.
This tropical plant is native to Central and South America. That’s why it goes by many names: Havana Cigar, Pampano, Cigar Calathea, or the Maranta Lutea just to list a few.
Due to its trademark size and shape, this plant is commonly grown outside in a garden. However, it can be an excellent houseplant if you can provide the right growing conditions.
CARING FOR YOUR CALATHEA LUTEA
There are many different components to growing the perfect plant, and it can be a lot to research. That’s why I’ve compiled all the information you need to check over your home and garden and prepare to grow a breathtaking calathea lutea.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know and answer those burning questions.
Ah, lighting! Trying to figure out the best light combination for any plant can be difficult. The calathea lutea in particular loves light, and can thrive indoors as long as you can provide extremely bright light.
Keep in mind that these plants grow towards their light source, so they will form weird angles if the light does not come from an overhead source.
Soft light or partial sunlight is the best type of light for this plant. Direct sunlight can be tolerated for a few hours, but any longer will burn and wither the leaves.
If you’re planting in a garden, try an eastern patch that will have direct sunlight in the morning and indirect, shaded sunlight once the sun has fully risen. If you’re growing indoors, an overhead or ceiling window can be a great resource.
If you’re unsure of how to measure light, try buying a light meter! They directly measure the amount of light in a room in foot-candles, or FCs. The ideal growth rate for the calathea lutea is at least 400 FCs.
BEST SOIL TYPE & MIXTURE
When it comes to soil, the calathea lutea loves organic matter. You’ll also need to make sure the soil is well-draining to promote root health, and capable of retaining moisture for nutrients.
The ideal soil pH will vary from acidic to neutral, anywhere between 5.5 and 7.0 on the scale.
Whether you are making a soil mixture yourself or buying one at the store, here are some elements to look out for:
- Orchid bark
- Organic matter mixes, such as coconut husk or worm castings.
Perlite helps with drainage while charcoal promotes root health and nutrient absorption.
Orchid bark serves to aerate the soil and help with moisture, and added mixes of organic matter will keep the calathea lutea growing like a champ.
You can either use these elements with regular potting soil or replace the soil for coco coir. Both will yield fantastic results!
When the calathea lutea is growing, it requires lots of water to help it along. Growing season occurs in the warmer spring and summer months, so during this time you will want to water at least once a week.
You’ll want to supply enough water to wet all of the soil without flooding (producing puddles of water). The main thing is to make sure the soil is never completely dry a few inches past the surface.
While the routine can vary, watering the soil completely once a week in the warmer months is your best bet.
In the winter, the plant becomes dormant and does not need as much water. Watering once every two weeks should be enough until temperatures rise again.
Keep in mind that light impacts the amount of water needed, just like the seasons. Stronger, outdoor sunlight may require more water than softer indoor lighting.
In addition, some studies suggest that giving your calathea lutea distilled water with fewer minerals and fluoride helps in their growth.
It should be no surprise that this exotic plant loves the heat. The ideal temperature for the calathea lutea (indoor or outdoor) will be between 65°F to 80°F, or about 18°C to 27°C.
The lowest possible temperature for this plant should not go lower than 60°F (15.56°C).
If you live in an area where temperatures drop below this number for extended periods, your calathea lutea will need to be an indoor plant or moved inside every winter when temperatures start to fall.
Temperature and humidity go hand in hand, and the calathea lutea loves them both. They thrive in moisture, and their broad leaves will flourish in the right conditions.
For proper growing, you must maintain humidity levels of at least 50%; however, a range of 70% humidity would be the ideal level to see this plant really grow the best it can.
How should you accomplish these humidity levels? The best way would be to use a humidifier, which can moisten the plant with calculated settings.
Plants also produce more humidity when grouped together, so giving the calathea lutea some neighbors would also produce growth.
You might have heard that misting the plant also produces humidity, but proceed with caution. Misting can promote the risk of bacterial and fungal infections which will do more harm than good.
WHEN TO FERTILIZE
For the best rate of growth in your calathea lutea, try to fertilize at least once a month in the growing season.
They will not need to be fertilized at all in the winter unless you have serious concerns. Liquid fertilizers such as Dyna-Gro or Dr. Earth are both good options for indoor and outdoor plants.
Certain nutrients are the true secret to fertilizer. For calathea lutea care, look for the following nutrients:
This plant is a grower, so expect to make some room! Incredibly, in the wild these plants can grow up to 13 feet in length!
If you’re growing in a garden, expect it to shoot up and even provide some shade for other plants. The calathea lutea will be slightly smaller indoors, reaching a maximum of 10 feet in the best growing circumstances.
This plant grows fast in the warmer seasons, but it does not grow at all during the winter. You can admire it for the rest of the year and then look forward to growth once again in the summer.
PROPAGATING THIS BEAUTIFUL PLANT
While most plants can be propagated using stem cuttings, this is not the correct method for the calathea lutea.
This is because stem cuttings don’t hold the tissue needed to promote new growth.
Instead, you can propagate the calathea lutea by division! Here’s what you need to do:
- Water your soil thoroughly in the weeks leading up to division.
- Remove the entire plant from its pot or space in the garden
- Clean soil from the roots and split up the root system
- Remove a healthy cluster from the root system with pruning shears, making sure the leaves and stem are attached.
- Transfer the division to a new plot and replant your original
If done correctly, you should have two growing calathea lutea in just a few weeks!
Transferring this plant does not have to be difficult, despite the larger size. The calathea lutea will probably need to be repotted every other growing season, or about every two years.
However, don’t get a huge pot! Find one that is only a few inches bigger than the last so the root system can comfortably grow.
You will know when repotting is needed if roots are poking out of the drainage holes in your pot. It means they have nowhere else to go! Check the holes after each growing season to keep track.
PRUNING – OR MAYBE NOT?
Good news! The calathea lutea does not require any pruning. You can just sit back and watch it grow!
The only time you might need to intervene is to cut away any withered or diseased leaves. Otherwise, just sit back and relax.
The good news just keeps coming – pets and children do not need to worry about the calathea lutea, because it is non-toxic and can safely be consumed without worry.
It won’t necessarily be good for anyone, but it won’t be harmful either.
COMMON PESTS & ISSUES TO BE AWARE OF
This is a hearty plant, but there are still a few pests and issues you should be aware of so you can find a proper solution.
The primary concerns are pests such as mealybugs and fungal mosquitos, as well as scale.
Fungal mosquitos are tiny pests that are attracted by soggy soil. If you notice them, you should stop watering and wait for the soil to dry completely.
This should drive them away; if they are stubborn and remain, adding 3% of diluted hydrogen peroxide to the substrate should do the trick.
Mealybugs, on the other hand, are small white insects you’ll find crawling along the leaves. The best way to get rid of them is to gently wash the leaves with soap and water. To prevent them from coming back, you can use neem oil to drive them off.
Finally, we come to scale. This may look like a disease, but it is actually scale bugs that present as small brown lumps on the stems and leaves.
To get rid of scale, try to pick off the lumps with tweezers or a q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol. Rinse the leaves with water to get rid of more stubborn pests, and use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to destroy any eggs and prevent scale from coming back.
FAQS – YOUR CARE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
We will also be answering some common questions that people have about calathea lutea care and general awareness.
Some frequently asked questions are listed below.
Q. Is Calathea Lutea an Indoor Plant?
The short answer is that yes, the calathea lutea can be an indoor plant. The height and light requirements mean that most people plant them outside, but this is not a strict requirement.
It may be a bit harder, but as long as you can provide proper conditions such as high humidity and bright light there is no reason it will not flourish indoors.
In addition, many people move their outdoor plants inside during the winter. Even a garden calathea lutea can thrive inside!
Q. Where Can I Plant a Calathea Lutea?
If you need some ideas about where exactly to plant a calathea lutea, you’re in luck! These plants are gorgeous and easy to notice, so they are an excellent addition to most gardens.
A tropical or balinese garden would be perfect, as they are tailored for lush greenery and higher temperatures.
These gardens are also known for their warm color palettes and textured accessories, which will be offset beautifully by the calathea lutea.
As far as landscaping goes, these plants also have a practical use.
They can provide shade and cover for smaller plants with their large leaves, and the height makes them ideal for marking a corner or perimeter without much effort. They are the epitome of form and function!
Q. Do Calathea Lutea Have Flowers?
Yes, the calathea lutea does produce flowers! They are small, but once you know they are there you will be entranced.
Bracts are stacked along the stems, and between them you will notice small yellow flowers growing. Every stem cluster should produce about three flowers.
Q. Is Calathea Lutea a Perennial or Annual Plant?
When it comes to planting, it’s important to keep a good mix of perennial and annual plants.
Simply put, annual plants die in the winter season and need to be replanted. Perennials simply go dormant in the winter before growing back in the new season.
The calathea lutea is a perennial plant, which lets you save time on gardening.
You will notice a cease in growing once it gets colder, and the plant may even wither and lose color. Nevertheless, it will be right back again when it gets warmer!
Without a doubt, the calathea lutea is an attention grabbing plant that will continue growing and bringing joy as long as you provide for it!