If you are an experienced plant parent and are looking for a way to add diversity and variety to your indoor plant collection, the Calathea Setosa might be the perfect plant for you.
As challenging as the Calathea Setosa plant care routine might be for someone with little experience, it is equally as rewarding.
The Ctenanthe Setosa is a gorgeous plant. With deep green leaves and highly distinctive variegated foliage, this house plant will be no less than the star of your collection.
While this tropical plant is not the most sensitive house plant on the market, it does require a carefully controlled environment to thrive.
If you ignore your Calathea setosa plant’s particular needs, you’re going to end up killing it.
Continue reading to learn about the Calathea setosa plant’s appearance and appeal and its basic care routine.
The Prayer Plant: Appearance and Appeal
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Originating from the rainforests in South America, the Calathea Setosa is a highly-demanded perennial that comes from the Marantaceae family. Also known as the Ctenanthe Setosa, the Grey Star, or the Never plant, this tropical plant is a relatively challenging perennial to look after and is often sought-after by enthusiastic plant collectors.
Characterized by its dark green, thick leaves that are variegated by silvery gray stripes, this stunning plant can grow up to three feet or more during its lifetime.
Apart from being desired for its undeniable beauty and striking variegated foliage, the Calathea setosa plant’s unique plant behavior adds to its overall appeal.
During sunlight hours, the compact star plant appears to fold up as if it is resting. While once it is nighttime, the leaves fold downwards and seem as if they are praying. It is for this very reason that this tropical plant is called the prayer plant.
Moreover, the prayer plant is also popular for its medicinal benefits. Calathea Setosa is an air-purifying plant that can be an excellent companion for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Furthermore, like other Ctenanthe plant species, this prayer plant also has excellent hydrating properties and can be used to create a wonderful organic moisturizer for dry skin.
Basic Care Routine for Indoor Prayer Plants
Perhaps the main reason why most inexperienced plant owners hesitate to buy a Calathea setosa plant is its particular watering needs. While most other prayer plant species display great tolerance, the Ctenanthe Setosa cannot do well without proper care.
In general, Calathea plants grow healthy and tall when they are potted inside evenly moist soil. The golden tip is to water the Ctenanthe plant as soon as its top soil begins to dry up.
Moreover, while distilled water can protect the Grey star plant from harmful contamination, it can however deprive the plant of some necessary minerals. Hence, tap water is better.
Ideally, water the prayer plant at least three times a week; however, the watering frequency needs to be adjusted according to the atmospheric humidity levels.
If the air is too humid and you continue to water your Ctenanthe Setosa plants, the excess water will accumulate inside the pot, leading to rotting roots.
What is Root Rot
When the Calathea setosa plant is overwatered, the overly moist conditions create the perfect environment for fungal growth. If any airborne spores are to settle on the damp soil, it will take less than a few days for the fungus to spread over the plant’s roots.
As soon as the roots decay and die, the prayer plant will be deprived of its required water uptake. As a result, the plant will dehydrate and die.
How to Identify the signs of rotting roots
If root rot is causing a Ctenanthe Setosa plant to dehydrate and die, one will notice discolored and brown prayer plant leaves, along with excessive leaf loss.
Moreover, the plant parent can also identify the condition by closely examining the soil and the plant’s roots.
How to Treat Root Rot in a Prayer Plant
As soon as you notice your plant’s leaves turning brown or signs of fungus in the soil, you must begin the treatment by adding a fungicide to the soil. Ground cinnamon is a common fungicide for this matter.
However, if this does not help the condition, it is best to repot the entire prayer plant in a bath of fresh potting mix. To do so, follow the steps below:
Use a small garden shovel to separate the Ctenanthe Setosa plant’s root ball from the pot’s inner walls
Tilt the pot to the side to slide out the prayer plant along with its roots
Wash the root ball under water to remove the wet soil
Examine the roots and trip off all dead and decayed pieces
Refill another container with a fresh batch of potting mix and repot the Calathea setosa
No matter how well one waters their Grey Star, its survival without proper light is impossible. The goal is to replicate the natural tropical climate environment as much as possible.
Hence, in order to keep the prayer plant leaves dark green and plump, it is vital to grow the plant in medium light or low light conditions.
In general, the Calathea setosa thrives under partial shade or in bright indirect light. This means, that instead of placing the Never plant under direct sunlight, you need to keep it in a well-lit corner of the house that gets ample indirect sunlight.
By doing so, one protects the variegated foliage from getting burnt under the direct light, which can directly impact its leaves, overall hydrating, and lifespan.
Instead, six to eight hours of uninterrupted bright indirect light can help the prayer plant produce its food, remain fresh, and retain its striking beauty.
Moreover, too much direct sunlight can also negatively impact the Calathea setosa plant’s distinct variegation and silvery gray stripes.
Furthermore, if you live in a region where prolonged hours of bright indirect sunlight are hard to provide, investing in a solar lamp can save the prayer plant from poor growth.
Apart from regulating the intensity of the sunlight, it is crucial that the owner also pays attention to the external temperature.
If the surroundings get too hot, the Calathea setosa plant’s leaves will be forced to transpire water in an attempt to cool down. While this coping mechanism works remarkably well, too much transpiration can dehydrate and kill the entire plant.
Moreover, it is equally important to keep the Calathea setosa plant away from cold and drafty windows as that could increase the chances of root rot.
To replicate the environments of the tropical climate, it is advised that Grey Star plants grow in 75% atmospheric humidity. If the air is more humid than 75%, it’s better to use a moisture meter before watering the prayer plants’ soil.
Moreover, if the atmosphere lacks enough humidity, it can be dangerous for the entire Calathea setosa plant.
Since more moisture exists inside the prayer plant’s thick leaves, water molecules are bound to diffuse out from the tiny holes present under the never plant’s dark green leaves, down a concentration gradient.
Since the Ctenanthe plant needs water to survive, excessive loss in hydration will affect both its appearance and survivability.
Hence, it is best to invest in an indoor humidifier or to place the prayer plant on a water-filled pebble tray.
This is especially important during early spring, which is the peak growing season for all Calathea setosa plants.
The type of soil the Calathea setosa plant is potted inside will greatly impact its overall appearance and growth. If the potting mix is rich in vital nutrients and minerals, and is kept evenly moist at all times, the Prayer plant is able to grow tall and retain its beauty for many years.
However, if the soil is watered using distilled water, or is deprived of proper fertilization, the Never plant might not get the chance to develop the immunity it needs to survive long-term. Hence, add a balanced liquid fertilizer to the Calathea setosa plant’s soil, especially during the growing season.
Moreover, apart from fertilization, the PH of the soil will also impact the prayer plant’s dark green leaves and overall growth.
Calathea setosa plants grow best in slightly acidic soils that have a 6 to 6.5 PH level. Either one can plant their Grey star in a pre-acidic potting mix or can add Sulphur, leaf mold, mulch, or compost to the wet soil to make it more acidic.
How Does Acidity Help a Calathea Setosa Plant’s Growth?
Any time a fertilizer is added to the soil, it is enriched with vital growth nutrients and minerals. While most micronutrients can enter a plant through the root’s cell wall, some are too large to pass through.
Since the prayer plant will be unable to absorb the larger micronutrients, it might suffer from poor immunity or stunted growth.
Instead, when the soil is made acidic, the acidity helps break down the larger micronutrients into smaller components. As a result, you’re able to keep the plant alive and thriving for longer.
Bonus Tip: Grow your Calathea setosa plants outdoors in hardiness zones 9 to 12 for better growth and a longer lifespan.
As mentioned above, the Calathea setosa plant can grow impressively tall and large. If the growing prayer plant is grown in the same pot, its ability to expand and thrive will be negatively impacted.
Its overgrown roots might be pushed against the small container’s walls and might even clog the water drainage hole.
Hence, it is advised to repot a growing Calathea setosa plant once every two years. Moreover, when repotting the plant, ensure that the potting mix is more nutritious, the new pot is larger, and that it has abundant drainage holes.
Once the Never plant has fully matured and reached its maximum height, one does not have to worry about repotting too frequently.
Like most other indoor plants, the Calathea setosa plant needs protection from common pests. If you spot fungal gnats, mealy bugs, or spider mites crawling around the Calathea setosa plant’s leaves or stem, you need to spray the entire plant with an appropriate pesticide.
Finally, one of the greatest reasons for investing in a Calathea setosa plant’s care is that one can grow multiple other plants from one single mother prayer plant.
To begin the propagation process, use a pair of pruning shear to cut long sections of the prayer plant stems. Ensure that the stem cuttings have a few leaves.
Plant the stem cuttings into a tray of soil and water the cuttings evenly. Once new root tips begin to grow from the bottom of the stem cuttings, repot each individual cutting into a separate pot.
Water the new plants properly and place them under partial shade.
Bonus: The Calathea Setosa Tropical Plant is Non-Toxic
If you have young children or pets at home, the Calathea setosa plant may be perfect for you. However, while it is non-toxic, it can be preyed upon by playful and curious cats.
To protect your prayer plant from a house cat, sprinkle some lavender oil around it, or keep it well-fenced using chicken wire.
Easier Calathea Plants to Grow
If you have no pre-plant care experience and a Calathea setosa’s care routine overwhelms you, you can always go for other easier-to-manage species of the Calathea plants.
Some of those species are:
Round Lead Calathea
Calathea Magic Star
Final Thoughts -Look After Your Prayer Plants
For people who have experience looking after indoor tropical plants, keeping a Calathea setosa alive should be no problem at all.
As long as the Gray Star is watered on time, potted inside containers with abundant drainage holes, provided ample indirect light, and is protected from pests, it will continue to thrive with its lush foliage and undeniable beauty.