Calathea Dottie is a popular tropical houseplant with dark green, oval-shaped leaves that turn more purple as the plant becomes more mature. There is a pink ring in the middle of each leaf that stands out from the deep green background, and this unique characteristic is one of the reasons this houseplant has become so popular.
In this article, we will discuss the general cultural care of a Calathea Dottie, so if you are planning to add one to your collection, keep reading to learn more about it.
Calathea Dottie care
Calathea Dottie prefers bright but indirect light. Excessive light can cause its markings to fade, and can also cause leaf curling and browning. Too much shade, on the other hand, will result in the markings failing to develop properly in the first place, if at all.
If you keep the plant indoors, place it next to the north or east-facing window because these let in a gentler light. If the only available windows in your home are letting in harsh light, hang a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light’s intensity before placing your plant there.
If you live in a place where sunlight is scarce during the winter, you might have to use a grow light for your Calathea Dottie. If, while using the grow light, you notice changes similar to sun damage, you are probably keeping the light too close to the plant.
The soil in your Calathea Dottie’s pot should always be slightly moist, but never completely wet. If the soil dries out completely, this is not good for the plant, and you may notice its leaves and stems beginning to droop. This means it is dehydrated and must be watered as soon as possible.
A mixture of potting soil, charcoal, orchid bark, perlite, and moss is ideal for growing a Calathea. This mixture makes a potting medium that is sufficiently well-draining to let any excess water flow out with ease, lessening the chances of harmful overwatering.
The pot you use should have drainage holes at the bottom so that even if you accidentally overwater the plant, the excess water will simply flow out and not stagnate at the bottom of the pot.
It is recommended to water your Calathea Dottie once a week, but this will vary depending on its environment, including the amount of light it receives, the local weather, and the time of year.
Calathea Dottie prefers moist but not wet soil, so water it when the top inch of soil is completely dry. To quickly determine the moisture level in the soil, insert two fingers into the soil, up to an inch deep. If all of the soil still feels damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.
The best water to use for any houseplant is rainwater because it does not contain the minerals that tap water does and it is also free, as opposed to distilled water that you might have to purchase. If you do not have access to rainwater or distilled water, just let tap water sit out overnight to allow the chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate, after which the water should be safe enough to use on your plant.
Water your plant more frequently during the spring and summer months, and less frequently during the winter months, because the soil dries out faster in warmer weather.
Temperature and humidity requirements
Exposure to sudden swings in temperature, or to temperature extremes, can damage your Calathea Dottie.
For example, if you heat your home throughout the day in the winter but turn off the heat at night, this sudden change may cause your plant to become stressed. Try to keep the plant in a room where the temperature is always between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Calathea Dottie is a tropical plant from South and Central America, so to help it survive in a less humid North American climate, you might have to take some measures to help it out.
You can place the plant’s pot on top of a pebble tray filled with water so that as the water from the tray evaporates, it will moisten the plant’s leaves, as well as the soil in the pot.
You can also keep the plant in one of the more humid rooms in your homes, such as the bathroom or the kitchen.
If you have other plants that like high humidity, place them next to your Calathea so together they can all create a microclimate around themselves.
Another option is to purchase a humidifier that will benefit a number of tropical houseplants. This will automatically regulate the humidity in the room where your plant is kept.
Fertilize your Calathea Dottie during its peak growth period, which is during the spring, summer, and beginning of the fall season. Avoid fertilizing it during the winter months because there will be little or no growth during this time, and your plant will not require additional nutrients.
Unused fertilizer in the soil can cause soil toxicity and root burn, which can severely damage the plant’s roots.
You can help flush out any excess fertilizer by pouring water through the soil until all of the soil is drenched and the excess water has drained out through the pot’s drainage holes. Repeat this four more times and let the dripping stop completely before placing the plant back in its usual spot.
If you need to flush the soil, do it at a time when the plant needs watering so that you do the flushing and the watering simultaneously.
Pests and diseases
Fungus gnats can be a problem for your Calathea because they prefer a highly humid environment, just like the plant does. Despite causing no significant harm, they are unsightly and unpleasant to be around. Neem oil can be applied to the plant’s leaves to act as a natural deterrent.
Aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects are other common pests of your Calathea Dottie. You can use neem oil or insecticidal soap to eradicate them.
Calatheas are also prone to bacterial or fungal infections because of their high humidity requirements.
Pseudomonas leaf spot is a serious disease that will leave you with no choice but to destroy your Calathea Dottie because there is currently no treatment for this bacterial infection.
Root rot, caused by fungi that attack the roots of an overwatered Calathea Dottie, can turn the plant’s leaves yellow and stunt its growth. If you suspect root rot, remove the plant from its pot and examine the roots for brown or black root sections. These rotten roots must be removed, leaving only healthy white roots on the plant.
Dispose of the contaminated soil properly and clean the pot with soap and water. Fill the pot with fresh, well-draining soil and replant the Calathea Dottie in the middle. If you were able to remove all of the rotten roots, your plant should make a full recovery within a few weeks.
Water your Calathea Dottie the day before you intend to propagate it, to reduce stress and to ensure that it is well-hydrated.
The new pots should have adequate drainage holes and be big enough to accommodate the root balls of the divided sections of the parent plant. Prepare the new pots by filling them a third of the way with a well-draining potting mix.
Tip your parent Calathea plant on its side and slide it out of the pot with gentle pressure.
Gently remove as much soil as you can from the roots so that you can see the divisions easily. The natural divisions in the rootball will make it easy to separate the roots at these points. Patiently work the roots loosely with your fingers, and as you divide the plant, try your best not to break any of the roots.
Position the roots of the offspring plants into their new pots and fill the pots with more soil until all the roots are covered.
Place the new plants in a spot that gets bright, indirect light, and you can now begin caring for them as you do the parent plant.
Calathea Dottie is a beautiful houseplant that has dark green leaves with pink markings and purple undersides. This unique and distinct leaf coloration is one of the main reasons this plant has gained such popularity as a houseplant.
Calathea Dottie is not a particularly difficult plant to care for. It needs bright, indirect light, water when the top inch of soil is dry, well-draining soil, a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, higher-than-normal humidity, and fertilizer when it is actively growing.
Propagate this plant by separating the parent plant’s root ball into its naturally-divided sections and placing the offspring plants in new pots. You can then care for them as you would a fully-grown Calathea Dottie.
Image: istockphoto.com / Francisco Herrera