Calathea are tropical species that are popular houseplant additions because of the bold markings on their abundant foliage. They are often referred to as peacock, zebra, or rattlesnake plants in reference to these decorative leaves.
In their native habitats, Calathea species are also known for their striking inflorescences. When grown as houseplants, however, it is all about the foliage as they rarely flower indoors.
The Calathea 'White Fusion' cultivar, with its variegated shades of white, green and lilac, is no exception. The top side of its leaves features contrasting white markings alongside the green, and the underside has a pretty light purple-pinkish hue that also runs down the stems.
Although their care can be a little more particular than some houseplants, once you get it right, you will be rewarded with an eye-catching display of foliage that grows profusely and quickly.
|Botanical Name||Calathea lietzei|
|Common Name||Calathea 'White Fusion'|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous Perennial|
|Mature Size||Up to 60cm. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Partial Sun|
|Soil Type||Moist, Well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, Neutral|
|Hardiness Zones||11 - 12, USA|
|Native Area||Tropical Americas|
Calathea can be rather specific in terms of their care requirements, and Calathea 'White Fusion' is no exception. Once you get to know what they like, though, the extra effort will be worth in terms of the striking foliage you will get to enjoy.
These plants like moisture, but not excessive amounts, sun is good, but not too much, and extremes of temperatures need to be avoided too.
The large leaves of the Calathea 'White Fusion' should also be regularly wiped down to remove dust. This will allow them to breathe well. Don't be tempted to use any leaf shine products, however, as these can cause damage.
And don't panic if you see an infrequent, small amount of discoloration or brown tips as the foliage on this cultivar is delicate, and this is to be expected.
The right kind of light is one of the most important care elements for your Calathea 'White Fusion'. If this is wrong, the variegation on the plant won't develop properly. Filtered bright light is what is needed. Too much light can result in the markings fading and leaf curling, and too shady a position and the markings won't develop properly in the first place.
Avoid south-facing spots where intense direct sunlight is common. East, West, or North facing windows usually work well. Or you can diffuse bright light using a sheer curtain.
Mixes recommended for African violets are often well-suited to Calathea cultivars like 'White Fusion' as they retain moisture well. Making up your own peaty, airy, lightweight potting mix is also an option. One containing orchard bark and perlite alongside standard potting soil can work.
The Calathea 'White Fusion' prefers to be kept consistently moist, but soggy and waterlogged conditions are a recipe for disaster. These plants like high humidity, but overly wet soils can lead to root rot and bacterial and fungal issues. Ensuring the pot the plant is in has good drainage holes is also vital.
Once the top inch of soil is dry, this is usually a good indicator that your plant will appreciate some more water. Crisping leaves can be a sign your plant is overly dry.
Many enthusiasts chose to use rainwater or a distilled variety for their Calathea, but room temperature tap water is fine too. It's best, though, to leave it overnight before using it to reduce the potential for fluoride toxicity. This is particularly true for built-up city water systems.
Temperature and Humidity
Tropical species like Calathea like a decent amount of humidity in their environment. Although they like warmer temperatures, excessive heat isn't appreciated.
It's best to avoid extremes in temperatures too. So, in the winter, if you blast the heating all day and it is turned off completely at night, this sudden change can shock your plant. The dry conditions created by heating units like this can also be a problem in terms of humidity levels.
If you are concerned about a lack of humidity in your home environment, you can sit the plant pot on top of a tray with some pebbles. That way any water that drains out after irrigation can help increase humidity levels without the plant's roots being soaked. Or, it could be worth investing in a humidifier, particularly if you are a collector of a variety of tropical houseplants.
Keeping your Calathea 'White Fusion' somewhere out of direct draughts and where it gets good ventilation and warm temperatures is best.
Your Calathea 'White Fusion' will appreciate a monthly application of liquid fertilizer during the growth period. Pick one that is designed for houseplants with dense foliage as this will be more nitrogen-rich. A weak dose will be all that is required, and feeding won't be needed through the winter.
If your Calathea 'White Fusion' has a few leaves that have browned or curled excessively, don't be afraid to cut these off at the stem. Providing your plant is healthy and is being given the care and conditions it needs, new leaves will take their place quickly.
Propagating Calathea 'White Fusion'
Calathea species can be propagated easily from cuttings or through root division, providing the mother plant is healthy and vigorous.
Because of their preference for a high humidity environment, fungus gnats can occasionally be a problem for Calathea 'White Fusion'. They won't usually do any major damage, but they are unsightly and not particularly pleasant. There are insect sprays that can be used to eradicate large infestations, and some enthusiasts recommended applying neem oil to the leaves as a natural deterrent.