7 Most Usual Calathea Problems And Their Solutions

We have listed the most common Calathea problems and their solutions so you can enjoy this glossy beauty in its full glory!

Most Usual Calathea Plant Problems And Their Solutions

Calatheas never fails to awestruck people with its unusual variegation. Naturally, it can’t stand with grace forever; it’s also susceptible to some issues. But fret not! We’ve got the solutions to the most common Calathea problems you might face!

Most Usual Calathea Problems And Their Solutions

1. Leaf Curling

Calathea Plant Problems And Their Solutions

Calatheas tend to curl inwards along the edges. This generally begins with the older foliage at the bottom. Sometimes, they are also accompanied by crispy or brown edges, indicating dryness.


This leaf contortion can be a sign of two condition—underwatering or low humidity.

When the soil becomes too dry, the plant reduces its leaf surface area by curling the leaves inward. This is the plant’s trick to minimize water loss through evaporation and retain as much moisture as possible.

Whereas in dry environments, the leaves curl to decrease their exposure to the air, reducing water loss and creating a humid microclimate around the leaf surface.


Follow a deep watering schedule when the top inch of the medium feels dry to touch. This will ensure the roots get enough moisture every time you water the plant. Take extra care during the summer and dry months and adjust the watering frequency as needed.

To up the humidity, invest in a humidifier or group your calathea with other humidity-loving plants as they create a microclimate together. You can also use the pebble tray method to boost the humidity around your plants.

2. Leaf Wilting & Yellowing

Calathea Plant Leaf Wilting & Yellowing

Leaf wilting and yellowing sometimes become a double whammy. This condition is prominent, with droopy leaves accompanied by a pale yellow color. It basically starts on older, lower leaves but can spread rapidly if not addressed in time.


The leading suspects here are overwatering and insufficient light. Constantly soggy soil suffocates roots, hindering their ability to absorb water, which leads to wilting despite having plenty of water around.

On the other hand, calatheas prefer bright, indirect light. Being stuck in the shade for too long will zap their energy, causing wilting and leaf yellowing due to a lack of chlorophyll production.


First things first—stop watering immediately if the soil is soggy, and allow the top inch to dry out completely. If the stem or the leaves seem mushy, repot the plant into a new container with fresh potting soil.

Also, take care of its sunlight needs and relocate it to a brightly lit spot with indirect sunlight.

3. Stinky Odor

Stinky Odor of Calathea Plant

This unpleasant scent generally comes from the base of the plant, near the soil line. You might also notice the stems becoming soft and mushy to the touch.


When your Calathea sits in soggy soil for too long, beneficial aerobic bacteria get choked out by harmful anaerobic ones. These anaerobic bacteria break down organic materials in the soil, releasing foul-smelling gases as a byproduct, signaling soil that is too wet and possibly beginning to rot.


Carefully remove your calathea from its pot and inspect the roots. Snip away any mushy, brown, or black roots with sterilized shears. Then repot it in fresh, well-draining potting mix. Water thoroughly, but allow the top inch of soil to dry out completely between waterings. Don’t forget to drill enough holes in the pot.

4. Light Toned Leaves

Calathea Plant Light Toned Leaves

The vibrant colors seem to lighten over time with faded spots across the foliage.


Regular use of tap water can lead to a build-up of minerals like fluoride and chlorine in the soil. This can affect a plant’s ability to absorb other essential nutrients, leading to paler leaves. Poor sunlight exposure over a long period can also fade a plant’s color.


Consider switching to RO, filtered, or rainwater for watering. This will help prevent mineral build-up and ensure your Calathea gets the nutrients it needs to maintain its colorful personality. Also, move your plant to a spot with bright, indirect light or maybe where it can bask in a few hours of mild morning sunlight.

5. Tiny Bumps On Stem

Tiny Bumps On Calathea Stem

If you see tiny, raised black bumps, then these are surely scale insects. While they might look small and unassuming, they can wreak havoc on your plant’s health. Sometimes, you can also notice webs from the stem to the leaves that indicate the presence of spider mites.


Scale insects are sap-sucking pests that attach themselves to plant stems and leaves. They pierce the plant tissue and feed on its juices, weakening the plant and slowing down its growth. These little black bumps are the armored females, while the males have wings and are less commonly seen.


For a light infestation, isolate your plant and try a natural approach, such as swapping the pest for a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also mix one tablespoon of dishwashing soap with a few drops of neem oil in a liter of water and then spray it on the affected areas of the plant. Wipe it off with a clean cloth to remove the residue.

6. Yellow Mottling Or White Residue On Leaves

White Residue On Leaves

You will notice yellow mottling or splotches appearing on the leaves. In some cases, you might even see a white, powdery residue on the leaf surface.


The white powdery substance, especially on the undersides of the foliage along the petiole, is a telltale sign of powdery mildew. These fungi thrive in moist, humid environments in a lack of enough air circulation.


To combat powdery mildew, improve air circulation around your plant and increase humidity levels with a humidifier. Also, neem oil spray can bring you results.

7. Leaf Edge Browning

Leaf Edge Browning

Those unsightly brown edges creeping in from the margins of your calythea’s leaves are mostly visible at the tips or edges and progress inward if left unchecked.


Calatheas are rainforest floor dwellers, accustomed to consistent moisture. When they don’t receive enough water, their leaf tips and edges are the first to suffer. These parts of the leaf dry out, turn brown, and feel papery. This happens because the plant is unable to supply adequate moisture to its extremities, leading to dehydration of the tissues.


Don’t let the medium turn cracky between the watering sessions. For better results, you can apply well-aerated and water-retaining soil to your calathea by mixing orchid bark, coconut coir, perlite, worm casting, and activated charcoal in a balanced ratio.

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