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Calatheas are easy to care for, not susceptible to many problems, and just an all around wonderful houseplant to grow. 

With that said, however, they are sensitive to improper watering, and you will need to carefully water Calathea so as not to give this tropical plant too much or too little hydration. 

Keep on reading to learn how to properly water Calathea and ensure your houseplant thrives for many years to come.

a person watering calathea

How often should you water Calathea?

How often to water the Calathea depends on several factors, including the age and size of the plant, the time of year, and the humidity level and temperature of the room the plant is growing in. In general, expect to water the Calathea once a week during the summer and a little less during the winter.

No matter what, however, you should always check how moist the soil is before you water the plant. If the top 2 inches feel dry, water the plant. If, however, the soil still feels moist, wait another day or two before checking again.

How often to water Calathea In summer

During the summer months, the Calathea typically needs to be watered about once a week. This can vary depending on the size and age of the plant, as well as the humidity level and temperature in the room.

With that said, however, you should always double check how dry the soil is before watering. 

If the top 2 inches of soil still feels damp, wait another day and then check again. Only water when the top few inches of soil feels dry. 

calathea after watering near a watering can

How often to water Calathea in winter

During the winter when the Calathea isn’t actively growing, the amount of water this plant needs is reduced. A good general rule of thumb is to water the plant once every 10 to 14 days. However, this timeline can change depending on the size and age of the plant.

As with watering the Calathea in the summer, however, it is best to always check the soil to see how moist or dry it is before watering. 

This simple act will go a long way to help prevent overwatering the Calathea. 

How do you know if Calathea needs water?

The easiest way to determine whether or not your Calathea needs water is to check the soil moisture level. If the soil feels dry or is pulling away from the side of the pot, then you know it’s time to water Calathea. Another sign that the plant needs water is that the Calathea leaves are curling.

While those are the most common signs that the plant needs a drink, they are not the only ones. 

Dry leaves that feel crispy, leaves that are turning brown, stunted growth, and leaf drop are a few other common symptoms of an underwatered Calathea.

Do Calatheas like bottom watering?

Calatheas do like bottom waterings, and it can actually help to prevent overwatering this plant. This is especially important when you consider that the Calathea is susceptible to overwatering. Just make sure that you don’t use tap water when watering the Calathea.

To bottom water the Calathea, simply fill the bottom of your sink with 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water. Submerge the Calathea in the water and let it soak for about 45 minutes. 

After this allotted time, lift the plant out of the water and let the excess water drain out of the drainage holes.

leaves with water droplets after watering calathea

How long should you bottom water a Calathea for?

In most cases, the Calathea will need bottom watered for about 45 minutes. Although this amount of time can vary, it’s a good starting point. After the 45 minutes have passed, test the moisture level of the soil to see if it needs a few more minutes soaking in the water.

From there, just follow the instructions outlined above.

Can I water my Calathea with tap water?

While it is possible to water your Calathea with tap water, this type of water can damage the health of the plant. This is because tap water typically contains an abundance of additives, such as chlorine, and minerals that can have a negative effect on the plant.

When possible, use distilled or filtered water instead of tap water. If you only have tap water, fill the watering jug up with water about 24 hours before you plan on watering the plant. 

This will give any chlorine in the water a chance to dissipate before you water the plant.

What happens if I water my Calathea with tap water?

Sometimes, watering with tap water won’t cause any problems. At other times, however, the water can cause the leaves to burn and develop a brown discoloration on the edges of the leaf blade. You may also start to notice brown spots on the leaves.

If this occurs, immediately stop watering the Calathea with tap water and instead use distilled or filtered water. Once the issue is corrected, any newly emerged leaves should retain their flawless appearance. 

Remember, however, that any leaves that are already damaged will stay that way even after you have corrected the problem.

leaves with water droplets after watering calathea

What does an underwatered Calathea look like?

An underwatered Calathea will have dry soil, the Calathea leaves will begin to curl and feel crispy and dry. Leaves can also fall off the plant and the growth of the entire plant will slow. As the underwatering continues, the entire plant will begin to wilt and wither.

While underwatering is usually not considered as serious as overwatering, it can still lead to the death of your Calathea. That is why it is important to ensure you give the Calathea plant enough water.

How to fix an underwatered Calathea

An underwatered Calathea is relatively easy to fix, and requires simply watering the plant. If, however, the soil is extremely dry, the water may just run down the side of the pot. In this case, you will need to soak the entire plant’s pot in water for 20 to 30 minutes.

Once the time has passed, lift the Calathea out of the water and allow all the excess water to drain out of the Calathea’s pot. When the plant is finished draining, place it back in its spot. 

Avoid allowing the Calathea to go without water for an extended period of time, since it can take months before the plant fully heals from the experience.

What does an overwatered Calathea look like?

An overwatered Calathea will have yellow leaves that feel soft and mushy, and the leaves may curl and/or drop off the plant. The entire Calathea will wilt, its growth will slow, and you may even see rot forming on the stems.

Another sign of overwatering is that the Calathea leaves are drooping. If the overwatering continues, the Calathea will develop root rot. 

Root rot in your Calathea is a difficult disease to treat since there is no cure for it. The good news is that root rot is completely preventable.

watering calathea with spray bottle

How to fix an overwatered Calathea

If the Calathea has just been overwatered once or twice, you probably just need to not water the plant for several days to even a week or two. For a severely overwatered Calathea, it will need to be repotted to avoid root rot.

That is, the entire plant will need to be removed from its pot, all the soil has to be removed, and then the plant replotted in a clean pot with fresh soil.

When you remove the Calathea from its pot, you will need to discard all the soil, even the soil around its roots, and then examine the roots. 

Look for brown and black roots, which indicate they are dead or diseased, and then snip them off with a pair of pruning shears. Replant the Calathea in a clean pot filled with fresh soil.

Remember that repotting the Calathea doesn’t guarantee its survival, and there is still a good chance that it will succumb to root rot.

Does misting cause overwatering in Calatheas?

While it is possible to overwater the Calathea from misting alone, it would take an abundance of misting for this to occur. What misting is more likely to do, however, is help to increase the humidity levels and keep the plant from drying out.

That doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the misting and instead use it sparingly. This simply means don’t mist the plant’s leaves until they are dripping wet.

Should I put my Calathea in the shower?

Calatheas are tropical plants native to areas with high levels of humidity. Putting them in your shower can help give them a boost of humidity, which is extremely important for the overall health and happiness of the plant.

Just make sure that the room maintains the plant’s ideal temperature even when not in use. If, however, your bathroom dips below 60 degrees, you may want to move the Calathea to a different location after you are done with the shower.

water droplets after watering calathea

How do I know when my Calathea needs humidity?

One of the symptoms of a Calathea not getting enough humidity is that its leaves will begin to turn brown and crispy. You may also notice that the soil is drying out quicker than before. When this occurs, try raising the humidity level near the Calathea by running a humidifier. 

You can also simply set the Calathea pot on top of a drip tray to increase the level of humidity around the plant. Another option is to mist the Calathea’s leaves.

Should I prune off Calathea leaves that are curled or drooping?

When the Calathea leaves are curling or drooping from over- or underwatering, you can prune them off, just make sure you are not pruning the plant too much. Calatheas don’t do well with heavy pruning, and taking too much off can cause more harm than good.

If you do decide to prune, due so during the spring or summer months and don’t prune more than 1/4 of the plant.