Calathea are a tropical houseplants popular for the bold markings on their abundant foliage. They are also called peacock, zebra, or rattlesnake plants, referring to their decorative leaves resembling characteristics from those animals. In their native habitat, calathea species are known for their strikingly-shaped inflorescences; however, they rarely flower indoors as houseplants.
The variegated foliage of the calathea 'White Fusion' cultivar features a green leaf with contrasting white markings. The underside has a magenta hue that 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.
|Common Name||Calathea 'White Fusion'|
|Botanical Name||Calathea lietzei|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous Perennial|
|Mature Size||Up to 2 ft. tall|
|Soil Type||Moist, Well-drained|
|Flower Color||Yellow, purple, white|
|Hardiness Zones||11b-12b, USDA|
|Native Area||Central Mexico to tropical South America|
Calathea can be rather specific regarding their care requirements, and calathea 'White Fusion' is no exception. These plants like moisture, but not excessive amounts, sun exposure is good, but not too much, and extreme temperatures need to be avoided.
You should regularly wipe down the calathea 'White Fusion' large leaves to remove dust. Removing dust from leaves allows the plant to breathe well. Don't use any leaf shine products; they can cause damage. Don't panic if you see an infrequent, small amount of discoloration. Brown tips are to be expected; the foliage on this cultivar is delicate.
Finding the right light level for your plant is one of the most critical care elements for calathea 'White Fusion.' The wrong light level may cause poor development of the variegation on the plant. This plant needs filtered bright light. Too much light can cause the markings to fade and leaves to curl; too much shade and the markings won't develop properly in the first place.
Soil mixes recommended for African violets are often well-suited to calathea cultivars because they retain moisture well and drain excess water. You can make a peaty, airy, lightweight potting mix by combining orchard bark, perlite, and standard potting soil.
The calathea 'White Fusion' prefers to be consistently moist, but soggy and waterlogged conditions are a recipe for disaster. Overly wet soils can lead to root rot and bacterial and fungal issues. Ensure the plant's pot has suitable drainage holes. Water thoroughly, but make sure the water drains out the bottom and does not pool in a collection plate.
Once the top inch of soil is dry, your plant needs more water. In the summer, you'll likely water once a week. Since the plant slows down its growth in the winter, it will require less water, probably only needing water every two weeks. Use the finger test to check the first inch of soil for moisture, but crisping leaves indicate that your plant is overly dry.
Many enthusiasts chose to use collected rainwater or distilled water for their calathea since this plant can be sensitive to chemicals in the water. However, room temperature tap water is fine.
Temperature and Humidity
Avoid temperature extremes. Although it likes warmer temperatures, sweltering heat can be too much for this plant. For example, if you heat your home all day in the winter but stop heating it at night, this sudden change can shock your plant. Also, the drying conditions from heating units can be a problem in decimating humidity levels.
If retaining humidity around the plant is a concern, you can sit the plant pot on top of a tray with some pebbles. Any water that drains out and collects in the pebbles will eventually evaporate and increase humidity levels without soaking the plant's roots. Or, you could invest in a humidifier that benefits a variety of tropical houseplants. Keep your calathea 'White Fusion' out of direct drafts but strike a balance by providing decent ventilation.
Calathea 'White Fusion' appreciates a monthly application of liquid fertilizer during its growth period—spring through fall; stop feeding in the winter. Pick a nitrogen-rich fertilizer designed for houseplants with dense foliage. The plant will only need a weak dose or half the strength recommended on the fertilizer container.
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. Prune any dead, dying, or damaged leaves as soon as you spot them and remove them from the soil. If your plant is healthy and given the care and conditions it needs, new leaves will grow and fill in for the dead ones. Deadhead faded blooms.
Propagating Calathea 'White Fusion'
The best time of year to propagate this plant is during the spring or summer during its period of vigorous growth. It can be propagated by division, leaf node cutting, or sown seeds. Use root division only if the mother plant is healthy. Dividing your plant helps you maintain your plant's size and keeps the plant thriving. Once you divide, it will immediately make the plant look less full, but you will have two full-looking plants with time. Here's how to divide your calathea:
- You'll need a 3- or 4-6-inch pot, well-draining potting soil, a sterilized knife or trowel, and a clean, flat workspace.
- Several days before you divide your plant, water it thoroughly.
- Inspect the plant for offsets or new shoots. These are baby plants developed by the mother plant. You can isolate that one shoot, its roots, and replant it. Or, you can take the current mother plant and split it in half. Or, you can do both. The offset should be at least 7 inches tall.
- To take the plant out of the pot, turn the pot upside down, keep your hand fanned out wide at the base, securing the plant and its root ball in your hand.
- If you have offsets or pups, pull out those separate roots first. If you want to divide your plant in half, use a clean knife or trowel and make a sharp, clean cut through the root system. Ensure that each half has part of the root system and each leaf is attached to a stem.
- Replant the pup in a smaller container than the mother plant; use a 4- to 6-inch container to start.
- Place the plant in a bright spot but not directly in the sun.
To propagate via leaf node cutting:
- You'll need a 3-inch pot, well-draining potting soil, sterilized scissors or pruning snips, and a clean, flat workspace.
- Find a leaf node—the place where new leaves shoot from the stem—and cut about an inch below it. Make sure you have a few leaves intact with that node.
- Plant the cutting in well-draining potting soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Place the pot in a bright spot but not in direct sun.
- In two weeks, roots will develop. Pull out the plant and its trailing roots and replant in a larger pot, about 2-inches larger.
How to Grow Calathea 'White Fusion' From Seed
To grow calathea from seed, use a moistened seed starting mix or well-draining potting soil. Plant the seed about 1/4-inch deep. Cover the container with plastic wrap to increase humidity and maintain warm soil. If the soil needs warming, use a heating pad to help spur germination.
Put the pot in a bright but indirectly lit location. It can take up to a month for the seeds to sprout. Once a seedling grows at least an inch tall, carefully lift the sprout, keeping its root structure intact. Replant into a larger container, at least 2-inches larger.
Potting and Repotting Calathea 'White Fusion'
Repot it once a year (or every two years) to replenish the soil. Calathea plants that get rootbound invite fungal infections that will kill the plant. Increase the size of the container an inch or two each time. If you tend to overwater your plants, get an unglazed terra-cotta pot since it’s porous and allows water to evaporate through the walls. If you tend to forget to water your plants, you might want to get glazed clay, plastic, or fiberglass pots. Repot your plant in spring or early summer during its active growing season. Water it thoroughly the day or two before repotting to lessen the stress on the plant.
All calathea plants are tropical and will not survive a frost or freezing winter. As the temperatures begin to cool, prepare to bring your plant indoors to a bright spot with indirect sun by getting the plant used to indoor life slowly—only two hours a day at first, then increase by an hour each day. Keep the plant away from drafts and heaters. Keep the humidity high around the plant and mist the plant, if necessary. Once the outdoor climate warms again, gradually reintroduce the plant to outdoor life by bringing the plant out for two hours a day, then increasing by an hour each day. Temperature shifts are shocking for this plant and may cause a few leaves to drop.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Because they prefer a high humidity environment, fungus gnats can occasionally be a problem for calathea 'White Fusion.' They won't do any significant damage, but they are unsightly and not particularly pleasant. Apply neem oil to the leaves as a natural deterrent. Other common pests include aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. You can treat each with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
Calathea plants tend to get overwatered because they require high humidity, making them prone to bacterial or fungal infections. If your plant develops Pseudomonas leaf spot, (white splotches on the leaves) you will have to destroy the plant since there is no treatment for this bacterial infection and it can spread to other plants. To reduce the risk of getting this disease again, water the soil only (not the leaves) or water from underneath.
Root rot is a fungal disease that causes rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and rotting at the base of the plant. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect the roots below the soil line to treat root rot. Yellow roots are fine, but if they are brown, you must treat rotting roots immediately. Using sterile pruning snips or a knife, cut away any brown or mushy roots and discard them. Wash the pot in warm soapy water. Replace the soil with fresh, well-draining soil. Treat the place where the root was cut with an antifungal and plant it in the fresh soil. Keep the soil loose in the container so the roots can breathe.
How to Get Calathea 'White Fusion' to Bloom
Calathea 'White Fusion' produces small flowers when it reaches maturity, usually in the spring or summer. But when calathea are grown indoors, they very rarely bloom. If you replicate and maintain their ideal conditions indoors, then you might be rewarded with a bloom to let you know that you have figured out the secret to their growing success. However, the flowers are not much to look at and have no fragrance.
Common Problems With Calathea 'White Fusion'
Calathea plants of all types require a moderate amount of care. They are sensitive about their humidity, temperature, drafts, water level, and lighting. When any of these variables are out of balance, the plant becomes prone to growth issues or health problems.
Leaves Turning Brown
Leaves turn yellow, brown, or die when calathea white fusion is overwatered. Dead calathea white fusion leaves should be removed immediately so that the plant doesn't start to rot, smell bad, and invite fungus. The leaves of calathea 'White Fusion' may turn brown and droop or fall off if they are placed too close to a window or in direct sunlight. Move the plant further away from the window to protect the plant's delicate leaves.
Leaves Wilting or Drooping
When calatheas need more water, the leaves will wilt, curl, or droop downward from the main stalk. Increase water frequency or volume. You can also mist the plant's leaves or invest in a small humidifier to give the plant more moisture.
Leaf Patterns Disappearing
When this plant gets overexposed to the sun, it will produce more chlorophyll, making the green coloration in the leaf more dominant. Find a spot with filtered or dappled light to fix this situation.
Where should I put calathea in my house?
Calatheas do not like direct sun. 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 under a sheer curtain. These plants also thrive under plant grow lights.
What are alternatives to calathea 'White Fusion'?
Stromanthe sanguine is a closely related plant to calathea. It is also called 'Triostar' or 'Tricolor'. Instead of 'White Fusion's pinkish leaves, this plant has reddish leaves in addition to white and green. Crocodile fern is another plant with patterned, ornate foliage. Its foliage resembles crocodile scales. This type of fern has thicker, hardier foliage and prefers moderate to higher humidity, much like calathea, but it's more forgiving if its conditions are a little off.
What's the difference between maranta and calathea?
Both calathea and maranta plants belong to the Marantaceae family and are often called prayer plants. However, the maranta is a "true prayer plant." for its leaf's movement during the day. Prayer plant leaves shift up in a vertical "praying hand" position in the evening. The motion comes from the movement of liquid in special cells at the base of each leaf and is a reaction to the amount of light in their environment.