Plant Sheet: Freddie Prayer Plant (Calathea concinna)

Freddie Prayer Plants, also known by their botanical name Calathea, are popular guests in indoor jungles. For good reasons: The various cultivars attract the eye with intricate patterns on their long, lush leaves.

Ready to be Freddie’s foliage buddy? Dive in to uncover the secrets of your Calathea and become the best plant parent ever! Let’s leaf through this guide together!

Short Sum-Up: The Calathea concinna, also known as the Freddie Prayer Plant, is native to the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. Adapted to low-light and humid conditions, it closes its leaves at night, resembling prayer. Thriving in shade, it prefers indirect light indoors and regular watering to keep the soil moist.

Origin and Natural Habitat of the Freddie Prayer Plant

The Calathea concinna, also called Freddie Prayer Plant or more rarely Shadow Plant, is native to the Amazon rainforest of South America, mainly Brazil. As an undergrowth forest dweller, the Prayer Plant has adapted to low-light conditions and a humid, warm climate.

The name Prayer Plant stems from the fact that these plants close their leaves when it is dark as if they were praying for the sun to return. By closing their leaves, the plants save precious energy, absorb as much sunlight as possible, collect rainwater efficiently, and prevent funghi from spreading on their leaves’ surfaces in the humid rainforest environment.

In nature, the Calathea concinna produces beautiful white flowers that resemble orchid flowers a little. Unfortunately, indoors, the Calathea concinna does flower only very rarely if specific conditions are met. Hence, do not count on Freddie to bloom for you. However, its striking foliage is more than enough to let your eyes rest on, don’t you think?

Due to the flexibility and thickness of the leaves, indigenous groups in the Amazon have long used Calathea leaves for weaving crafts as well as for wrapping food. Their suitability for the artisanal craft is even present in their name, as ‘Calathea’ is derived from the Greek word ‘kalathos’ which means basket.

Brighten Up Calathea’s Day: Light and Water Requirements

As the Calathea naturally grows on dim tropical forest floors, it is not used to harsh sunlight. As its second name Shadow Plant suggests, this plant can do well in half-shade or even shade. Still, like most plants, it will appreciate medium to bright indirect light indoors.

Tip: You will know if you chose a spot that is too dark if the patterns on the leaves start to fade.

Make sure to place it out of direct sunlight, especially the midday sun. Also, try not to place it directly behind a window to avoid burning the leaves.

Water your Prayer Plant regularly, keeping the soil moist but not sogged. Watering about once a week is enough. It doesn’t like to sit in water, so make sure the drainage of your soil and pot is appropriate. If you’re not sure how good drainage is achieved, click through to my post where I explain how to create drainage in any type of pot.

When watering, always check if the top layer of soil feels dry. If the soil is still moist to the touch, then wait another day or two. Also, as Calatheas are sensitive to temperature changes, make sure to use water at room temperature. This is good advice for all houseplants, actually.

Ready for more tips on watering to avoid overwatering your indoor fellows? Here’s my complete watering guide for houseplants!

A Calathea’s Guide to Happiness: Care Tips

Calathea plants are not famous for being the fastest growers. If you’re Calathea doesn’t seem to produce many new leaves in a couple of months, don’t fret. Have some patience and give them some time and love to thrive.

Your Freddie Prayer Plant likes a steady warm climate. Do not expose it to sudden temperature changes or cold temperatures below 53 °F (12 °C). Otherwise, it might not only pray for the sun at night but also for you to turn up the heating!

They love humidity. I recommend using a humidifier in your home in wintertime to keep humidity levels at around 60 %. Freddie will appreciate your efforts! For more simple ways to increase humidity in your home, click through to my post about clever humidity hacks!

If the air is too dry, your Calathea will quickly show brown leaf tips.

Tip: As humidity-loving plants, Calatheas can make a good addition to your bathroom. Find out what other houseplants are suitable for bathrooms by reading my post linked here!

Wipe the leaves regularly to get rid of dust. Clean leaves provide ideal light conditions for efficient photosynthesis. Use a microfiber cloth or a brush, do not use your fingers to not leave any greasy traces on their surface.

You can also spoil your Calathea with a spa treatment: Put it in the shower and let it rain on it. This clears off the dust as well and revives the plant. After showering, let all excess water flow out for 1-2 hours, and do not water them until the top layer of soil is dry again.

How To Propagate the Freddie Plant

The best way to propagate your Freddie Prayer Plant is by dividing up the Mother Plant. This is best done once the plant has reached a medium size with several stems that can be separated.

Take the Mother Plant out of its pot, gently shake off the soil, and separate the stems you wish to propagate. For rooting, I recommend letting them root in water for 2-3 weeks. Once a small root ball has formed, they are ready to be planted in the soil.

Tip: You can also keep plants in just water. Soil can be messy and attract pests and diseases. Want to know more about plants in water? Check out my post about the pros and cons of keeping plants in water vs. soil!

Stem cuttings unfortunately do not work with Calatheas as they lack the necessary axial joints or rooting tissue to be able to grow roots out of the stems.

Calathea Superpowers

If you have cats, dogs, or kids, you will be glad to know that Calathea concinna is completely non-toxic and safe for any living environment and household.

These plants visibly move!

To make the most of the sparse sunlight they get on the forest floor of dense tropical rainforests, these plants bend their leaves towards the light, adjusting them during the day, and folding them up at night. This process of movement is also called nyctinasty, a term that describes the movements of a living being according to the circadian clock (24-hour cycle of day and night).

Calatheas are quite flexible, as you will notice, and you will happen to see their leaves in various positions during the day. The movement is produced through joint-like nots called pulvini at the base of each leaf which shrink or swell according to the water pressure in them. They are like mobile solar systems. Clever indeed!

With their leaves closing as if for prayer, Calatheas are generally a symbol of devotion and focus on a task.

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