Calathea Musaica | Plant Care Guide

Calathea Musaica

The Calathea musaica is a beautiful houseplant known to create an attractive mosaic pattern. This usually features an intricate network of yellow and green lines with medium green leaves.

Its “musaica” name is associated with the fact that this plant’s leaves will slightly arch and form a clump. With appropriate care and management, this plant will thrive indoors.

Botanical NameGoeppertia kengeljanni
Common NameCalathea musaica, Calathea bella, Maranta bella, Maranta tessellata, Calathea ‘Network’, Network Prayer Plant
Size2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide
DifficultyMedium
Pet FriendlyYes, non-toxic to pets
Air CleanerYes

Calathea Musaica Origin

Native to Brazil, the Goeppertia kengeljanni is a flowering plant from the Marantaceae family. The common name in houseplant communities is Calathea musaica.

This plant thrives in tropical conditions that resemble the climatic regions found in South and Central America, West Indies, and Africa.  

According to Kewscience, this plant was initially documented as Maranta bella in 1875 by William Bull. 

The Calathea musaica is characterized by a criss-cross mosaic pattern of gently arching green leaves. 

How to Care for Calathea Musaica

The best Calathea musaica practices include effectively ensuring the plant receives adequate light supply, nutrients, water, humidity, and a warm growing environment.

Light and Temperature

In its natural habitat, you will find this plant growing under the canopy of other plants and leaves. Because of this, the Calathea musaica is not a plant that can handle direct sunlight. 

This plant will do best in bright, indirect sunlight. If exposed to direct light, the leaves could end up scorched and damaged. 

Calathea musaica can thrive indoors under an average temperature range of 65 degrees F to 80 degrees F. However, they will stop growing and show signs of distress if the temperatures fall below 60 degrees F.

You need to constantly regulate the temperature range since this is quite a sensitive plant. Extremely hot or cold temperatures will quickly result in browning or wilting.

Watering Needs

Like the other plants found in the Calathea species, the Calathea musaica prefers a moist environment. Generally, you can expect to water your plant once a week. 

You want to make sure not to overwater your plant. If the Calathea musaica sits in soggy soil, the roots can rot. 

You also want to make sure not to let the soil dry out. Too little water can cause the plant to wilt.

Finding the perfect balance can be tricky. If you are unsure, you can stick your finger in the soil. If the first two inches are dry, it is time to water your plant. 

For great results, always use distilled or filtered water. Evidence suggests that prolonged use of tap water may lead to the browning of the leaves.

Fertilization

This plant is generally not a heavy feeder, but you still need to supply it with the essential nutrients. The Calathea musaica can significantly benefit from a diluted houseplant fertilizer.

You can dilute the houseplant fertilizer to half its strength and apply it right after you have finished watering the plant. You will want to do this 2-3 times annually for the best results.

An organic fertilizer is another option. They typically release their nutrients more slowly, and you will want to make sure it contains all the vital nutrients needed.  

The best time to fertilizer your Calathea is during spring and summer. This is the period when they are likely to experience more growth and will need that extra supply of nutrients.

Flowering

Don’t expect your Calathea musaica to flower indoors. This houseplant produces white flowers on short stalks in its natural habitat. 

Pruning

For the Calathea musaica, you will only need to remove the decaying or dead foliage over time. This plant does not require extensive pruning. 

You can do this by using a snipping tool. For optimal results, always start by removing the dead foliage and leaves near the soil. This will allow the plant to focus on new and healthy growth solely. 

Repotting

The Calathea musaica reaches about 2 feet in height and is considered a medium-sized houseplant. 

This plant slowly grows over time and does not require constant repotting. The Calathea musaica is also sensitive to repotting and new environments.  

The best time to repot your plant is when it has outgrown the current potting container. Some signs you might see to indicate it is time to repot include peeking roots and loose soil. 

Repotting Tips

  • Carefully remove the plant out of the container and inspect the root ball.  
  • Clean the root area to remove excessive soil as well as dirt. Make sure that you untangle any curled-up roots. 
  • If any roots are damaged or appear diseased, trim them off.
  • Put half the required amount of soil in the new, larger pot. 
  • Insert the plant into the new potting container.
  • Add the remaining soil to the container and ensure that the roots are well anchored inside.
  • Use filtered water to water the plant thoroughly.
  • Place it in an area where it can receive bright and indirect sunlight.

Pests

Spider mites are the most common pests that affect this plant. At first glance, you will see some small and fine silky threads left by the spider mites on the plant’s leaves.

Spider mites may also leave pronounced forms of webbing. But generally, these pests are known to cause leaf discoloration in addition to yellow patches left on the glossy green leaves.

To combat this problem, you can apply a neem oil solution to the plant. This is an effective regimen that will quickly get rid of the mites. For best results, use the neem solution weekly.

Ensure that you permanently remove the damaged or dead leaves affected by pests to prevent further spread. 

Other pests that might affect Calathea musaica include aphids, thrips, and mealybugs.

Diseases

Diseases affecting Calathea musaica are mainly caused by excess moisture and standing water. This oversupply will quickly create an environment that allows bacteria and fungus to thrive.

If your plant stays soggy soil for too long, it will end up with root rot. The fact that the roots will always be hidden and out of sight means that it’s not easy to determine root rot.

Rotting has devastating effects and can result in brown leaf tips and yellowing leaves. If it’s not detected on time, the plant will eventually end up dying.

If you detect it early enough, then you should consider repotting your plant. However, you must first remove the affected or diseased roots to avoid further infestation.

How to Propagate Calathea Musaica

The most effective way to propagate this plant is by division of a healthy mature plant. This plant will not propagate through a cutting, so you will need to divide the roots.

  • First, you will want to prepare the new pot with soil. 
  • Pick a shoot coming up out of the soil and away from the central part of the plant. This will make the separation process relatively easier and lead to a success rate of the roots growing independently.
  • Select roots that are more mature. They will have a better chance of surviving the plant division. 
  • Use your hand to separate the root gently and break it free from the main plant’s root ball.
  • Place the newly separated root ball into the pot you prepared.
  • Add more soil to ensure the roots are secure.
  • Replace the potting soil from the original container with new potting soil for fresh nutrients.
  • Replant the main plant into the container and fill the pot with soil.
  • Water both plants thoroughly. 
  • Place your new plants in a place with bright but indirect sunlight.

The Calathea musaica will most likely go into shock. It will be a month or two before you start to see new growth.   

Frequently Asked Questions about Calathea Musaica

The Calathea musaica grows slowly over time. Within 2-3 years, the plant can start to get rootbound, and you might need to repot it. 

At full maturity, a Calathea can only attain an average maximum height of 2 feet.

This is a plant that loves humidity but in moderation. So, you should hydrate it from time to time, whenever you feel that it’s necessary.

Misting is one way to provide your musaica with more moisture. A humidifier will increase the plant’s desired humid levels quicker. 

Yes, it possible to bring a dying Calthea musaica back to life. To do this, you must do your best to recreate the growing environment from its natural habitat. Ensure the plant is in a place with high humidity, moist soil, and bright, indirect light. 

The reviving process also requires a good temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees F. Your success rate of reviving the plant will be higher if you avoid using air conditioning.

Calathea’s species typically prefer and thrive in soils that are acidic in nature. So, they are more likely to prefer coffee grounds since coffee has a natural acidifying effect when applied to the soil.

It’s also worth noting that ground coffee usually has trace amounts of nutrients that the plant needs for growth. So, yes, Calathea Musaica likes coffee grounds since the organic compound can improve its healthy growth.

Generally, this plant usually requires an indoor environment with an adequate light supply. It should be noted that such an environment helps to keep the plant healthy and accelerates the growth of bright foliage alongside some intricate mosaic-like patterns.

While it’s clear that such a plant loves bright and indirect light, it’s still more tolerant to different lighting setups. So, this plant will still do well in low-light.

However, you need to understand that a few aspects of the plant may change under such conditions. Under too little light conditions, your plant’s leaves may become a darker green color. 

Calathea Musaica is a unique plant that closes and opens its leaves due to light influence. During the night, the plant will close its leaves because its joints can no longer move.

In the morning, the leaves will open again due to light that gets the joints to move. A low rustling sound sometimes accompanies the opening and closing of the leaves.

Final Thoughts about Calathea Musaica

As a member of the Calatheas family, musaica is an attention grabber that makes a great houseplant. It’s stunning and features an attractive set of foliage. However, it comes with challenging growth requirements.

Everything should be done within the required range from lighting, watering, pruning, repotting, and propagation. This is a delicate plant, and any slight mishandling can lead to pest and disease infestation.

It doesn’t grow big and can only attain a maximum height of 2 feet. This makes it ideal for growing in all types of indoor spaces.

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