Often referred to as the ‘eternal flame’ due to its bright orange flowers, Calathea crocata (pronounced kal – ATH – ee – a) also has a rich foliage, making it a popular and eye-catching houseplant. It is a compact perennial that can be difficult to maintain and requires either a heated greenhouse or to be kept indoors.
The puckered leaves of the plant are ribbed, with maroon undersides. The flowers are orange and yellow, resembling a flame. It grows in a tight clump to a height of around 60 centimetres and is often used as a table decoration.
It grows wild in the jungles of Brazil and throughout tropical America. Habitat destruction has led to some species becoming close to going extinct.
Calathea crocata is usually grown as a houseplant in the UK, although its tropical origins make it very difficult to grow outside. It is somewhat labour intensive and, despite loving heat, it does not like direct sunlight. It can nevertheless be functional as a table decoration or similar.
The plant belongs to the Maranta family. There are around 150 Calathea varieties, but this is one of the few that produces attractive flowers. Most varieties are grown to the attractive thickness of their foliage.
The plant requires a liquid feed every month or so and must be kept well watered in summer. It also needs to be kept in a warm place. It loves humidity and compost can be kept moist during the summer. Spraying it with cooled, previously boiled water is to be recommended, as this boosts the humidity and keeps the leaves dust free. In order to keep humidity levels high, the plant can also be placed in a shallow outer pot, or alternatively, a large saucer filled with moist pebbles. Grouping it with other plants also helps to provide the humidity it craves.
Did You Know?
Each night the plant folds up its leaves as though praying and is sometimes referred to as ‘The Prayer Plant’.