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Calathea Medallion Care

Calathea roseopicta ‘medallion’, is a perennial tropical plant indigenous to the Amazon rainforests of South America, growing under dense shade beneath the trees. It is from the Marantaceae family and is related to the Marantas group of prayer-plants, but is not a true prayer plant as it doesn’t fold its leaves upright at night.

It is a tropical evergreen plant that grows to 24 inches tall with large green oval leaves and purple undersides. Their vibrant foliage is an attractive addition to the decor when grown in indoor locations such as homes or offices. While its leaves don’t move the same way as prayer plants, the leaves do move up or down in the day, depending on how much light it is exposed to. This plant loves growing indoors in an environment of low light, high humidity, and adequate soil moisture. 

It is an attractive and popular plant that is very easy to maintain when compared to other varieties that require a high level of maintenance and extra care.

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Sunlight

This plant likes shade lighting conditions of indirect sunlight. Keep it away from bright direct sunlight as strong rays will bleach away the colors and variegation of its attractive leaves. 

Lower levels of light suit it best, bringing out the beauty of its foliage. This makes it a perfect plant to be cultivated in areas with less sunlight such as hallways and rooms without windows.

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Water

It likes soil that is damp but not water-logged. This could be as often as twice or three times weekly in summer. Water the plant when the topsoil is turning dry and make sure its home has enough holes to let water drain through. Since it is rather sensitive to chemicals in the water, like other members of its family, allow tap water to stay overnight in an open pot/basin to evaporate any chemicals like fluoride or chlorine. 

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Humidity

It prefers high humidity levels between 50-60%, similar to the levels of its natural habitat. Regularly misting as well as keeping a humidity tray near the pot or placing it around other plants will help increase humidity levels. 

All the same, this may not be enough in a temperate climate, so you might have to use a humidifier. If the humidity drops, brown spots will affect the leaves, with leaf edges and tips also becoming brown. Low humidity and dry air can also increase the chances of pest infestation.

Keeping it in your kitchen or bathroom will also help resolve humidity issues as these rooms are usually the most humid in a house.

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Temperature

It prefers a temperature range between 65-85°F and this is commonly an easy level to sustain in an average home. Low-temperature levels of below 65°F should be avoided as well as exposure to cold drafts as this may result in discoloration or drooping leaves or slower growth. 

Conversely, temperature levels above 85°F risk drying the soil and leaves beginning to curl up. Take action as quickly as possible.

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Soil

It likes damp but not water-logged soil, a combination of perlite and potting soil is perfect for it. A ratio of 3:1 peat and sand will also work as well as a cacti soil mix. It prefers soil with a high content of nitrogen and lows in potassium to promote luxurious green growth.

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Repotting

This plant rarely needs repotting and must only be repotted just once a year, although it will grow well without repotting for two or more years. Repotting will help to freshen the soil, offer more room for roots to spread, and get rid of any fungal problems in the soil. The best time for repotting is normally just before its growing season begins.

Gently ease the plant out and remove excess soil around the roots, giving it a good spray to remove any remaining soil. Inspect the roots for disease or rot and trim them as needed. Select a container 2 inches broader than its current home and fill one-third of it with fresh soil. Insert the plant and fill the space around it with new soil. Water it well and return it to its old location.

If you plan on reusing the old container, wash it well and trim away one-third of the roots. This will stop the plant from growing bigger and provide the roots with sufficient room to spread.

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Propagation

Propagation is accomplished by splitting the root ball. The best time for this is after the winter before the plant begins the growing period. Water the plant a day prior to propagating it. Ease the plant from its container and remove any excess soil and separate new growth clusters with root systems.

Take a new pot and fill it with similar soil as the original plant, well-draining yet able to retain some moisture. Adding perlite will help with the drainage. Insert the new plant and water well. Keep it near the original plant to get consistent light and humidity.

Additional Care

Fertilize the plant once in 3-4 weeks during its growing season but do not over-fertilize it as too much feeding encourages leggy growth and might even kill it. Do not feed it during winter. It prefers a fertilizer low in potassium and high in nitrogen. 

A standard houseplant fertilizer is usually sufficient. Make sure to wash out the soil before winter sets in to remove any salts and nutrients.

Prune in chiefly to remove any old/dead growth or yellow leaves to maintain its appearance.

Common Problems

Pests like spider mites like to prey on the plant. They are very tiny and are only noticed when they form webs to lay their eggs. Rinse the plant with a spray of water. Then scrub the leaves with insecticidal soap and water till they are gone. You might have to repeat this for at least two weeks, depending on the level of infestation.

Over-watering and soggy soil could give rise to root rot. Unfortunately, this is very hard to spot as the signs only appear on the surface when it’s too late – the plant’s base becomes mushy with a foul smell along with damp soil even if you haven’t watered the plant. This indicates that the roots are infected by fungus and can’t absorb water or nutrients anymore. At this point, you will not be able to avoid losing the plant. The solution is to stick to your watering schedule without over-watering and that the soil is a well-draining mix. 

Yellow leaves can be a result of many things, so you will have to rule them out one by one until you find the exact cause: 

  • The soil should be slightly moist but not soggy. 
  • The light should be indirect yet bright. 
  • Fertilizer should only be applied only once every 3 weeks during its growing period. 
  • It must not be exposed to cold drafts or low temperatures of 65°F or lower.

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