Also known as the prayer plant, calatheas are tropical plants commonly growing indoors as a houseplant. These interesting plants are native to South American jungles and produce broad, green foliage that looks as though they have been painted with a brush.
While the calathea does have a lot of things in common with other beloved houseplants, one thing that makes this plant stand out from the crowd is the calathea propagation method.
As you’ll see, it’s likely completely different from how to propagate other houseplants in your collection!
Keep reading to learn more about propagating calathea and what is required to successfully increase the number of calatheas you are growing.
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How to propagate Calathea
Propagating calathea isn’t a difficult job, but it does require a certain process designed to keep the health and wellness of the plant in mind. This includes ensuring the calathea is properly cared for before, during, and after the division.
1. Wait until the calathea is actively growing
Calathea propagation should only be done when the plant is actively growing, which is during the spring and summer months.
Propagating is a serious experience that can put stress on the plant, and waiting until it is actively growing gives the calathea a higher chance of surviving the process.
2. Begin dividing the plant when the offsets are at least 7 inches tall
While it may be tempting to propagate calathea as soon as possible, you should wait until the offsets are at least 7 inches tall. The taller the offset, the stronger its root system is.
Furthermore, a taller offset is more likely to survive the division process better than a small, weak offset.
3. Make sure the calathea is healthy and mature.
You should never propagate a diseased or dying calathea, and only strong, healthy, mature plants should be used.
Dividing the calathea means you are creating a clone of the mother plant, and if that mother plant is sick, you are simply creating a new plant that will have that same sickness.
4. Water the calathea deeply before beginning the propagation process
Even if everything is done correctly, propagating calathea still puts the plant under stress. This is just a natural occurrence that happens when dividing plants.
While you cannot do much to stop the stress that occurs with propagation, you can avoid extra stress, such as from not watering the calathea, on the plant during this time.
For the best results, you should thoroughly water the calathea several days before you propagate the plant. This helps to prevent the mother plant from being water stressed before the process.
Additionally, you don’t want to overwater the plant either, as this causes stress as well, and even makes the plant more susceptible to diseases. You will need to find the right balance to ensure the calathea is getting the proper amount of water.
5. Prepare the pot for the offsets
Before dividing the calathea, go ahead and prepare the pot for the young plant.
Use a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom and fill it with the same soil that you are using for the parent plant. Furthermore, the pot should be no more than 3 times the size of the offset’s root ball.
Offsets typically only need a pot that is no more than 4 inches. Planting the offset in a pot that is much bigger will make it difficult for the young plant to properly absorb water and nutrients in the soil.
6. Slide the calathea plant out of its pot
In order to divide the calathea, you will need to first slide the plant out of its pot. Take care not to grab and pull the calathea by its stem as this can damage the plant.
Once you have the calathea out of the pot, use your fingers to carefully separate the pup from the mother plant.
This will require untangling the offset’s roots from the mother’s roots. While you should try not to damage the roots, snipping off one or two that are tangled and won’t come undone won’t cause any problems. Just make sure to use a pair of sharp and clean pruning shears.
7. Plant the calathea offset in the prepared pot
Once the offset has been removed from the mother plant, carefully plant the pup in the soil with its roots facing down. Gently pack the soil over the roots and around the young plant’s main stem.
8. Repot the mother calathea
Now that you have the calathea pup planted in its new pot, it’s time to repot the mother. Before you place it back into its pot, however, consider examining the roots looking for signs of dying or diseased roots.
If you do find dying or diseased roots, consider removing them from the mother plant by snipping them off as close to the root ball as possible.
Use a pair of sharp pruning shears to cut the roots. Remember to clean and sanitize the pruning shears after each use.
9. Water and care for the calathea offset
Like with the mother plant, the young calathea will need the proper care if you want it to survive. This means placing it in an area where it will receive bright, indirect light for about 8 hours a day.
Furthermore, make sure to water the plant whenever the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feels dry.
10. Keep an eye out for trouble
Don’t simply pot the mother and her pup into their pots and then forget about them.
Calathea propagation can take its toll on both the parent plant and its offset, and keeping a watchful eye on both plants will help you spot any potential problems before they become a serious issue.
Are Calathea plants hard to propagate?
It is relatively easy to propagate Calathea plants using the division method. While it is often considered a little more difficult to do this than for other plants that can be propagated via stem or leaf cutting, the Calathea’s method isn’t too hard if you take care.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any downsides to trying to propagate the calathea. Because you have to remove the entire plant from its pot and separate its roots, there is the potential of harming the main calathea.
That is why it is important to properly prepare the parent plant and take your time to complete the division process.
How long does it take to propagate Calathea?
The actual calathea propagation doesn’t take very long at all, and you can complete the entire process in less than half an hour. In fact, some gardeners can divide their calathea in as little as 10 minutes. However, it is best to take your time to help reduce the chance of harming the parent plant.
Because the division method requires removing the entire calathea from its pot, slow and steady is the best way to tackle the calathea propagation.
Far too often, plants are accidently damaged due to working recklessly. When you take your time, you are less likely to injure the plant.
How long does it take a Calathea plant to root?
When propagating calathea, you should be aware that these plants can be a bit slow to root. If you can find a good balance of moist soil that isn’t too wet, the divided calathea should begin to root between one week and a month after the propagating process.
Remember, the best way to speed up the process is to ensure the calathea offset gets the proper care. A plant that is unhealthy and neglected won’t develop roots as quickly as a plant that is well cared for.
With that said, however, if you wait until the offset is at least 7 inches tall, you shouldn’t have to worry about it rooting because it will already have established roots. This gives the offset the strongest chance of survival.
When is the best time to propagate Calathea?
The best time to propagate calathea is during the spring or summer, which is the plant’s active growing season. During this time, the calathea is able to handle the division process much better than when it’s in its dormant stage. Keep in mind, however, that dividing the plant will change how full the calathea looks.
Once the calathea is big enough, the plant will begin to spread, producing clumps along its sides.
It’s these clumps that you remove from the main plant to propagate the calathea. Once you have the offsets separated, you can plant them in their own small pot.
Can you propagate Calathea from cuttings?
Calathea cannot be propagated from leaf or stem cuttings. The stems from these plants do not contain the right tissue in order to grow roots and become a new plant. The same is true for its leaves. This is why you must propagate Calathea with the division method.
You can, however, propagate this plant by dividing the offsets that the calathea produces.
Offsets, also known as a pup, is a small “daughter” plant produced naturally on the mother plant. They have the same genetics as the mother plant, which makes them clones.
Can you propagate Calathea in water?
Calathea offsets can technically grow in water, but they likely won’t survive and almost certainý won’t thrive. This is because calathea don’t like their roots to stay soggy. The best way to grow these houseplants is in well-drained potting soil.
Most indoor gardeners only grow their plants in water during the rooting process.
However, since you will be using the division method to propagate calathea, the offsets that you remove from the parent plant already have roots formed. This means you don’t have to wait for the young plant to root.
Does the type of water I use affect calathea plants?
Calathea plants are known to be sensitive to certain water, such as tap water. This is because some municipalities add minerals and chlorine to their tap water. These added items can quickly cause your calathea’s health to suffer.
Instead, use distilled water, spring water, rain water, or filtered water to hydrate your houseplants. Using these options instead of tap water is less likely to cause problems with your calathea. If you must use tap water, let the water sit out overnight so that any chlorine in the water has enough time to dissipate before using it on your plants.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not your tap water is safe for calatheas, consider having a sample of your water tested.
There is a wide array of at-home water testing kits available for purchase that allow you to take a sample of your water and send it away for testing. After a few weeks, you will receive the results and can then make a more informed decision on whether or not tap water is safe for your plants.
Can I propagate a Calathea plant from a single leaf?
Leaf cuttings are used to propagate a wide array of plants, including the snake plant and the jade plant. Unfortunately, calatheas are not one of them. The leaves of the calathea plant do not contain the proper plant tissue that allows for their leaves to root and create a whole new plant.
If you want to propagate calathea, you will need to divide the plant during the spring or summer months.
As outlined above, this requires removing the mother plant from its pot and separating the pups into separate plants. These pups are then planted in a small pot and cared for in the same manner as older calatheas.
How many divisions can I make from one Calathea plant?
How many divisions you can obtain from one calathea depends on several factors, including the health, size, and age of the plant. In most cases, calatheas can be divided into two plants that are about the same size. Larger calathea plants may produce multiple offsets, which means you could potentially have several young calatheas.
If your calathea is healthy and strong, it may be able to produce multiple offsets throughout its lifetime. The key to this, however, is to ensure your calathea is getting the proper care it needs to thrive indoors.