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Plant Propagation: The Calathea Experiment

They don’t call it plant parenthood for nothing. Plants are complex beings with complex needs. Taking care of them isn’t always plain sailing. For me, this couldn’t be more glaringly obvious than when it comes to how to grow Calatheas. Despite my best efforts, I’ve ended up sending more than a few off to an early little plant heaven in the sky.
 
No matter what changes I made to their plant care (watering schedules, lighting, location, type of pot, fertilizing…), once they started down that prickly path, there was no bringing them back. They dropped leaf after leaf, drawing out the inevitable until I was left with little more than sad, bare stems.
 
Finally, I had to face facts. I was left with two choices: I could abandon my love of Calatheas altogether, or I could try one last time to resuscitate it.
 
Avoiding Plant Heaven
 
Water propagation has been brilliant for me with so many other little plant babies, so I thought this might play to my strengths, and so far (touch wood) it appears to be working!
 
Although the results aren’t guaranteed for everyone, with the right tools and a little luck, this Calathea experiment may be just the thing you’re looking for to make caring for your Calathea as simple and easy as it should be.
 
And, if it goes really well, it may even help you to fill your space with oodles of their healthy and gorgeous green leaves!
 
Why Propagate Calatheas
 
The simplest solution to keep the very real plant budget in check is, of course, plant propagation. If you’re like me, nothing makes you happier than filling every nook and cranny of your space with clippings and cuttings and watching those little green sprouts grow.
 
Thanks to plant propagation, once you jazz up your own space, you’ll have more than enough Calatheas to go around, so you can share the love with family and friends!
 
Propagation is also a great option if you find your Calathea is getting either too large or a little sparse. Winter months can be tricky for Calatheas, so propagating helps to encourage bushier growth that will help thicken up lean limbs. Likewise, if your big, strong Calathea is becoming a bit too ambitious for its current pot, you can propagate the babies to keep the healthy lineage going. 
 
And, as with many other plants, propagation can also be the salvation to save a struggling Calathea. Before the entire plant dies, you can salvage the still-healthy parts to provide it with a second chance to thrive.
 
How to Grow Calathea Cuttings with Propagation
 
Tools Needed to Propagate Your Calathea
 
You don’t need many tools to join in on this Calathea experiment, but you do need the right ones:

  • An established, healthy Calathea plant
  • Sharp pruning shears
  • As many containers of water as pieces you intend to propagate – I used the Walnut Moon, Oak Solo Ring and Walnut Duo Ring Propagation Stands for the perfect combination of style and functionality

 
Transferring to water
 
First, I unpotted a 6” Calathea and divided the root system with pruning scissors. You should be able to see and pull apart the sections fairly easily and, while doing so, brush off as much soil as possible.
 
If necessary, you can carefully cut through any root ball tangles with your shears but be sparing and gentle. You want to make sure that each new plant will have a good amount of root system to work with – this gives it the best possible chance of survival.
 
Next, I gently rinsed as much dirt as I could from each of the new root clusters and tuber-like rhizomes. Don’t worry about removing every speck of dirt – just make sure there’s no loose soil that will fall off when you shake the clusters.
 
I then placed each new hopeful baby Calathea into its own vessel of water and placed them in a well-lit spot with plenty of indirect sunlight. Although Calatheas do well with minimal light, the sun will help to give your plant the energy it needs to recover from the process.
 
Like my other propagations, I’ll top up or swap out the water as frequently as needed.
 
The Verdict
 
It’s been three days since I propagated my Calathea and I’m happy to report that there are no obvious signs of shock.
 
I’m cautiously optimistic thus far and super excited about discovering such an easy way for how to grow Calatheas. But this experiment is ongoing, so I’ll continue to track progress and look for new root growth.
 
Take a look at our IG reel to see exactly how this went down and leave a comment to let us know about your own propagating process! We’d love to hear from you.

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