Soil is one of the most important factors in successfully keeping house plants alive. However, there are many different types of soil available on the market today.
If you’re wondering what type will work best for your calathea, then it’s time to do some research! Luckily, I have done the work for you…
In this article, I’ll be sharing what I know about the best soil for calathea and how you can ensure your plant will thrive. I even reveal my calathea soil recipe!
What Is The Best Soil for Calathea?
Calatheas will grow well in almost any soil. The soil your calathea prefers is not overly important – it just has to be rich, well-draining, and well-aerated. I like to mix 50% potting soil, 20% orchid bark, 20% charcoal, and 10% perlite.
This mix creates a good base for your calathea, provides plenty of aeration and drainage, and is rich in nutrients. I’ve used this mix for many years now, and it has been very successful for me.
Calathea Soil Mix Recipe
- 50% potting soil
- 20% orchid bark
- 20% charcoal
- 10% perlite
This mix is easy to create, requiring only a few ingredients that are available at your local garden center or online.
5 Signs You’re Using the Wrong Calathea Soil Mix
If you’re concerned about whether or not you’re using the correct type of calathea soil, I will now share with you some of the most common signs to look for. These are all warning signs that your plant isn’t happy, and it’s time to make a change!
If these things sound familiar, be sure to try out my calathea soil recipe I shared above. This should help get your house plants back on track in no time!
1) The soil is very dense
If the soil is so dense that it’s nearly impossible to pierce with your finger, then you need to make some changes! The calathea needs well-draining soil in order to prevent root rot and other problems. Otherwise, its roots will start just sitting there at the bottom of the pot until they dry out.
2) The soil is always wet
If you check your calathea’s soil and it feels soggy or wet, then this is a sign that the drainage isn’t good enough. Calatheas love well-draining soil, but they also need to be kept moist.
3) The leaves are changing color
If your calathea’s leaves are turning yellow, brown, or even black it’s a sign of several things. The main issue is likely that the plant isn’t getting enough nutrients from its soil to stay healthy and green.
Another common cause could be too much salt buildup in the soil – this can happen when you use softened water on your plants.
One last thing to look out for is if the soil has become toxic due to fertilizers or pesticides (especially insecticides) used near your plant’s roots. If this happens, you need to make sure that all traces of these chemicals are gone! It might be necessary to repot in the new calathea soil mix and start again.
4) The soil is starting to smell or rot
If you notice a strange smell coming from your plant’s soil, it may be time to make an immediate change. If the roots of your calathea start rotting or decaying, then they are also very unhappy since this means that there is no oxygen for them!
While these signs can all point to different causes, they all have something in common: the soil isn’t working for your plant anymore. So try my calathea soil recipe to see if that changes things!
5) Your calathea isn’t growing
If your calathea isn’t growing anymore, then this is a sign that the soil isn’t correct. There are many possible reasons for this, but the main thing to look at is if your plant has enough nutrients and water.
Calathea Soil FAQs
Calathea soil can be quite a confusing topic. As such, I will now answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Do calathea like wet soil?
No, calathea plants dislike wet soil. Giving too much water to your calathea will result in root rot and brown leaves. The soil should be moist, but not overly wet. You can test this by sticking your finger in the soil up to halfway. If you feel moisture, leave it as is. But if there’s no wetness at all, then you’ll need to water a little more frequently.
You could also use a moisture meter! They are the best and most accurate way to test how wet soil is. Plus, they’re super cheap and easy to find.
When in doubt, just water your plant less! It’s better for your calathea if you give too little than too much.
Can I put coffee grounds in my calathea soil?
Yes, you can put coffee grounds in your calathea soil. Coffee is high in nitrogen and will provide this for your plant – which it needs! However, do not use more than about a teaspoon of coffee per gallon of soil as too much caffeine may harm your plant.
Do calathea like acidic soil?
Yes, calathea do like acidic soil. The ideal pH for your calathea is 6.5 as this is slightly acidic and will encourage your calathea to grow. You can test the pH of the soil by using a pH testing kit.
Can cactus soil be used for calathea?
While cactus soil can be used, it is not recommended. This type of soil is very coarse and will not hold much moisture. If you want to increase how well your soil drains, then add some perlite to your favorite potting mix.
Can I use Miracle-Gro soil for my calathea?
Miracle-gro is one of my favorite brands when it comes to planting products. Miracle-gro soil is great because it has all of the nutrients your calathea will need to stay healthy. It is also easy to buy from an umber of different sources. I get mine from Amazon here.
Can I use topsoil for my calathea?
No, topsoil shouldn’t be used as it is too dense. This means the soil cannot aerate or drain, which will result in the roots rotting. Keep it simple by following my soil recipe at the top of this post.
Can I use garden soil for my calathea?
No, garden soil is too dense and heavy for calathea. The soil will likely become too compact, which won’t let the roots of your calathea breathe and get the nutrients they need to thrive.
In conclusion, what soil you decide to use is not overly important. I recommend making a mix that has perlite to help improve drainage and aeration.
A good potting mix will contain all of the nutrients your calathea needs to grow, so buy a good potting mix from your local gardening store, or Miracle-gro.
If you have any more questions about soil for calatheas, then leave them in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer as soon as possible! You can also check out my other calathea posts, like this one Why Are My Calathea Leaves Curling?
Tim is an avid gardener from the UK. He was the founder of PlantCarer.com from 2021 to Sep 2023. He sold PlantCarer.com to Aaron. He has since started his own business called Seed To Supper, which provides new gardeners all the materials you need in a box (pots, seeds, compost and instructions) to grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables and herbs from start to finish – no garden required.