Calathea makoyana is a fairly small species of bean plant with beautiful, colorful leaves. While it may not be the easiest plant to care for, it is definitely worth the effort.
With its striking patterned leaves, Calathea makoyana is a fantastic addition to any indoor jungle. Under the right conditions, it usually develops into a magnificent plant, boasting its beautiful foliage for a long time, before the pattern and color eventually fades with age.
Calathea makoyana: origin, flowers and properties
The peacock plant (Calathea makoyana), also sometimes known as cathedral window, is a species of prayer plant native to Brazil. This plant occurs naturally in the shady undergrowth of humid rainforests and, because of its decorative leaves, is very popular as a houseplant. In all cases, Calathea makoyana is a bit demanding, so perhaps better suited for more experienced houseplant owners. This bushy plant reaches heights of 30 to 50 cm. Its leaves sit on the end of thin stems that grow from the bulbous rhizome and can be up to 15 cm in size. In terms of colour, the leaves have a peacock-like pattern in various shades of green and are reddish-purple underneath. As with most leguminous plants (Calathea), the leaves fold up at night, allowing you to enjoy the colorful undersides of the leaves. In its natural habitat, the peacock plant produces yellow flowers in January and February, but it rarely blooms as a houseplant.
Keeping Calathea makoyana as a houseplant
As with most houseplants, peacock calatheas do best in conditions that mimic those of its natural, tropical habitat. They like partial shade without direct sun. At most they will tolerate some direct light during the evening or morning hours. Peacock plants also require adequate heat all year round and temperatures of 23 to 25 °C during the growing season. Conditions should be slightly cooler in winter but not colder than 18 °C. High humidity is an absolute must for this plant. To increase the humidity, you can fill a dish with expanded clay and a little water and place it under the pot. This avoids giving the plant wet feet but allows the water to evaporate around the plant. Alternatively, you can mist your peacock plant daily. However, this can lead to lime spots on the leaves.
After buying a peacock plant, we recommend replanting it in a more suitable soil. Calathea makoyana prefers nutrient-rich, humus-rich, fairly coarse soil with a slightly acidic pH value. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, for example, is an excellent choice for peacock plants and is peat-free with a loose, permeable texture. As Calathea makoyana do not tolerate water disease, add one part expanded clay to two parts soil. You can also use expanded clay to create a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot so that excess water can drain away.
Care of peacock plants
Basic peacock plant care includes regular watering and fertilizing. Calathea makoyana requires evenly moist soil, especially during the growing season. Check that the soil always feels slightly moist, but not waterlogged. To prevent water logging, you can create a drainage layer as above. Water less in winter, but never let the root ball dry out. Preferably use soft rainwater for watering. Tap water is usually too hard and contains a lot of lime, which prevents the roots from absorbing nutrients in the long term.
Tip: Peacock plants are susceptible to spider mite infestation if the air is too dry. This makes increasing the humidity an important precaution, for example by regularly misting the plant.
Fertilize your peacock calathea once a fortnight from spring to autumn, preferably with a liquid fertilizer that is easy to apply. For example, our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food is ideal. In addition to providing all the essential nutrients, our fertilizer contains microorganisms that promote root growth. It is not necessary to fertilize in winter.
It is not necessary to prune peacock calatheas. However, if you see any yellow or dried leaves on the plant, simply cut them off at the base.
Repot your peacock plant every year in the spring in a new pot one size larger than the old one. To do this, simply lift the plant out of the old pot and carefully remove the soil from the roots. If you see any rotten or wilted roots, cut them off with a sharp knife. Before planting Calathea makoyana, create a drainage layer in the new pot and follow with fresh soil. For larger, more mature plants, repotting is also an appropriate time for propagation.
Peacock plant propagation
The best way to reproduce Calathea makoyana is by division. A good time to do this is late spring, when the growing season has begun, or when you plan to repot the plant anyway. To propagate your peacock plant, lift the plant out of the pot and carefully remove any soil from the roots. Then, using a clean knife if necessary, carefully split the root ball in half, making sure both parts have some leaves. Then plant the two plants in separate pots. To ensure that each plant grows well after being divided, place them in a warm and humid place.
Is Calathea makoyana poisonous?
The peacock plant is not poisonous to humans or pets. Nevertheless, it is not suitable for consumption.
Nervous plants (Fittonia albivenis) has equally beautiful, if much smaller, foliage. They are also ideal for beginners and much easier to care for than bean plants. Learn more about planting and caring for nervines in our in-depth article.