Calathea Medallion: The Acanthus Plant from South America - Absolute Gardener

Calathea Medallion: The Acanthus Plant from South America

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calathea medallion

The calathea medallion is a beautiful plant from South America. They have distinctive leaves that are often described as looking like ‘elegant feathers.’ This has earned calathea medallions the nickname of “feather plant” in some areas.

Calathea medallions are very popular house plants and can be found for sale at many nurseries, florists, and other garden centers around the world. There are many varieties of calathea medallion to choose from with different leaf shapes, colors, sizes, and textures.

But calatheas aren’t just pretty to look at! Care for them properly and you’ll enjoy years of healthy growth with few problems along the way.

What is a Calathea Medallion?

Calathea medallion often mistaken as medallion prayer plant, is a plant from the Acanthus family. It’s often incorrectly referred to as caladium, but it has no relation to that genus of plants and should not be confused with them.

The plant is also sometimes called Acanthus Plant or Scindapsus Aurea because of its likeness to acanthus leaves. It can grow up to three feet tall and has long green leaves that grow up from the calathea medallion’s center. The calathea medallion scientific name is Scindapsus aurea.

Calathea comes in many shapes sizes colours variations, but calatheas are most commonly thick-leafed succulents. They have dark green colouration along their length but they will eventually turn silver when they get older. The calatheas are herbs and perennial, growing in unusual shapes with large leaves shaped like an arrowhead or heart.

Origins of Calathea Medallion

Origins of calathea medallion are not known, but it is believed to be native to the Amazon region in South America. It’s most likely that calathea medallion was developed by a horticulturist who cross-bred two different plants and then passed on his creation through word of mouth. The plant became famous in Europe in the 1850s when calathea medallion was featured on a postage stamp from Brazil, and demand quickly began.

They are grown as ornamental houseplant because they have large showy leaves with distinctive patterns on them. They’re a popular indoor plant due to their hardiness and tolerance of the dry conditions that often plague our homes during wintertime.

calathea medallion

Calathea Medallion Plant Care Guide

The calathea medallion plants have attractive foliage with their wavy leaves and variegated patterns of colouration to please any eye! They’re commonly used as house plants and in landscaping. This is one plant worth adding to your home! In order for calathea medallions to grow and thrive, they need proper care. Here are some calathea medallion care tips:


There are a few different calathea medallion soil pots out there, so be mindful of what type your calathea medallion prefers. The most common is the bark-based potting mix that can hold water better but also breaks down more quickly than some other alternatives like coco peat or compost mixed with sand and perlite.

They like to be planted in soil that drains well. The calathea should not sit in too much water, which can cause root rot. Soil for calatheas are typically composed of two parts sand, one part peat moss or coir fibre (coconut husk), and one part compost or organic matter.

Avoid adding mulch on top of the calatheas roots unless it is an open pile that does not touch the plant’s stems. Mulching can be beneficial but in this case make sure to break up any large sections with your hand and bury it under the calathea.

There is no perfect calathea medallion soil recipe, so feel free to experiment and see what works for your calathea medallion best. Remember that any time you add new calathea medallion plants into the mix, it’s important to do a thorough cleaning of all pots so nothing can spread or take hold in an unhealthy way.


Lighting for calathea medallion is really important. It needs to be bright and it should not go through the leaves often which can happen with windows or skylights if they are on one side of the plant. The best way to do this is by placing a fluorescent light above them, preferably close enough so that there isn’t any shadow.


Calathea medallion watering is rather simple. They are extremely sensitive to drought, so make sure you water the plant often. The calathea medallion requires a moist soil and should be watered every other day or when it feels dry. If these instructions are not followed closely, your calathea medillan’s leaves will curl up in an attempt to conserve water.

If the calathea medallion is grown in a container, it should be watered at least once every other day to make sure that there is enough moisture for the plant’s survival. When watering your calathea medallion, avoid letting the calathea medallion stand in water for too long.

calathea medallionTemperature

The calathea medallion is a tropical plant, so it loves the heat. Keep in mind that calathea’s prefer to be warm enough during their “winter” months without any frost or freezing temperatures. They are sensitive and can’t tolerate being outside for very long if they don’t have an area warmed by sunlights like a porch or patio.

Temperatures should be warm, but calathea’s also needed a dormancy period where they experience lower temperatures (55-60° F). This is because calatheas do not have roots that are designed to adjust their water intake and release like other plants can for temperature changes; instead it will actually break down and die if the temperature changes up or down too much.

During calathea’s dormancy period, they should be brought inside and put in an area where the temperatures are warmer than their natural preferred range (65-75° F). You can also try putting them outside on a porch or patio for some sunshine to keep them happy but be mindful that calathea’s need to be brought inside at night for cold protection.

When calatheas come out of their dormancy, they are going to need a lot of water and it is best not to overwater them while the soil is drying out between watering cycles – this will cause roots that haven’t been dormant for long enough time periods (less than five months) to rot and die.


The calathea medallion thrives in humid conditions. The calathea plant is native to the tropics and prefers humidity levels of at least 60% but not exceeding 85%. If you are having trouble getting your calathea plants to grow or stay healthy, this may be due to a lack of moisture. It’s important that calathea medallions are watered with gentle, thorough sprayer heads to ensure even moisture distribution.

To create a humid environment calathea plants should be kept in the bathroom or other areas with high humidity levels, such as next to air conditioning vents or near any plant that sheds water onto them.


Fertilising calathea medallions is essential for a healthy plant. Maintain the calatheas growth by fertilizing it with water soluble fertiliser, on a monthly basis during spring and summer; or every fortnight in autumn and winter.

A quick way to test if your calathea needs water soluble fertiliser is to poke your finger into the potting mix. If it’s bone dry, then a quick spritz will be enough for now as calatheas prefer not being watered too much; if there are still moist clumps of soil at the bottom or sides of the pot and wet spots on top of the calathea’s leaves, then it needs more water soluble fertiliser.

They can also be fertilised every fortnight with a weak liquid plant food, which can help to maintain healthy growth and prevent stasis. If the calathea has been in its pot for more than two years it may need an annual feed of slow release fertilizer as well.


Toxicity is the measure of how poisonous a substance or drug can be. Calathea Medallion plants, which are members of the Acanthus family, contain calcium oxalate crystals in their tissue that releases chemicals when they come into contact with water. This chemical irritates mucous membranes and causes pain if it comes into contact with the human eye. The calathea medallion should never be placed near a sink or bathroom because of the opportunity for this to occur.

Known toxicity in calathea medallion is for children who might eat the plant’s leaves. Ingesting calathea medallions can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, but these are treatable with cleaning fluids or anti-nausea medication.


Pruning calathea medallions is not necessary, but if you want to do it, make sure the cut is clean. It’s a good idea to wear gloves while pruning calathes so as not to damage your skin with their sap or get any dirty on them. Here are some guidelines for calathea pruning:

  • Cut its plants back to the base of new shoots, leaving only about one third of old-growth. This will stimulate branching and allow to produce more calathea medallion flowers. The exception is calathea lancifolia which does not need a hard prune
  • Make sure that the calathea has been in a pot for at least six months before you start pruning.
  • Make sure your cut has clean and sharp edges with no jagged or spiky bits that might tear into calathea leaves during watering and fertilizing.

Pruning calathea medallion will allow for a cleaner more attractive plant. Pruning calathea medallions is fairly simple, as long as you have the right tools.

calathea medallion

Calathea propagation and Growth

Calathea medallion propagation can be done through a number of different ways. One way is to take calathea medallions that are cut from an existing plant, and then use those as the parent in another container with fresh potting material. Another way is to lay them on top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of calathea medallion compost.

If you want to grow calatheas from seed, the process is very similar to that used for other plants in your garden or vegetable patch – start by preparing some calathea medallion plant pots or calathea medallion trays. Fill these calathea plant containers with calathea medallion compost or calathea medallion soil, add calatheas seeds on top and then water them.


Once calathea medallion starts getting too big for its pot, it is time to repot the plant. Repotting calathea should be done every two years with a larger size pot each time until you reach one-gallon pots or more. Begin by filling your new pot with soil that has been mixed half and half with perlite.

Transplant calathea medallions by loosening the roots and then gently lifting it from its old pot before sliding into your new one, creating a mound of soil around calathea to protect the sensitive root hairs underneath.

Water calathea after repotting until water comes out through drainage holes in bottom of pot.

Finally, calathea medallion can be placed back outside on a warm day or in bright window indoors to acclimate for two weeks before being returned to its normal location.

Plant Disease

Plant disease is a common problem with calathea medallion plants. Sometimes this can be caused by the calathea medallion not getting enough sunlight, or it could be because of too much water and humidity on the leaves. If plant diseases are suspected, immediately stop watering your calathea and contact your local garden store to get advice on how to treat the calathea medallion.

Clean up any leaves that may be dropping on the ground around your calathea and remove them from the vicinity of it. The disease could spread if you are not careful with these diseased leaves.

Calathea Medallion Varieties:

There are many calathea medallion varieties, the most popular is calathea medallion bronze ( Calathea lancifolia). It has a fairly bushy shape with distinctive leaves that have heavy veins in them. This calathea medallion variety will grow to be about six feet tall and three or four feet wide.

A calathea medallion variety that is more compact and grows to be just two feet tall, calathea medallion chameleon, has a heart-shaped leaf with wide venation on the leaves. The calathea medallion plant will also grow three or four feet in width.

Calathea Medallion Variegated

The calathea medallion variegated is a “garden jewel” – it’s easy to grow and will make any garden come alive. The calathea medallion variegated plant has many names in different regions. In North America, calathea is called calathea medallion variegated and calatheas are often called calatheas Maroon or Calathias Red Batik.

The name “calabash” derives from African slaves who saw the calathea calabash as a calabash fruit. This calathea medallion has the unusual distinction of being both green AND variegated, with white stripes against a dark background. It also features deeply cut leaves that resemble acanthus leaves.

Common Issues with Calathea Medallion

Common issues for calatheas is to grow into a large clump with many stems, which can be difficult to work around and maintain as they will eventually need divisions (breaking them up) or pinching back. Calatheas also tend to be prone to pests such as spider mites, scale and mealybugs.

Calathea medallion drooping leaves can be due to calathea medallion plants not getting enough water, calatheas have a tendency to hold on to some of the moisture from their last watering. It could also be that they need more light or were planted in too large pot for them and so are stretching out looking for room.

Calathea medallion leaves curling up and wilting could be a symptom of calathea medallion too much water or humidity on the calathea leaves. If this is suspected, immediately stop watering your calathea plant and contact your local garden store to get advice about how you should care for it.

Tips for Keeping Calathea Medallion Happy

  • Start by keeping calathea medallions planted in the ground during summer months (April-October) in a bright, partially shaded area.
  • Make sure calathea medallions are planted at least 15 inches away from other plants and never more than 12 inches apart.
  • Water calathea medallions regularly with water that has been sitting overnight to let the chlorine evaporate or use rainwater since calathea medallions can be sensitive to chlorine.
  • Feed calathea medallions with a liquid plant food diluted by half in the spring and summer months every two weeks or once per month using an organic fertilizer.
  • If calathea medallion is being grown inside, it should have at least four hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • Never fertilize calathea medallions that are being grown inside with an organic fertilizer because it can cause root burn and damage to leaves in calathea medallion plants.

calathea medallion

Calathea Medallion Frequently Asked Questions

How do you care for a calathea medallion?

Calathea medallions are easy to care for as long as they receive enough light. The soil should be slightly moist but never wet and there should not be a lot of standing water in the saucer under calathea medallion pot. These plants are sensitive to root rot, so calathea medallion pot should never be on a stand that is in water.

Is calathea medallion a prayer plant?

Calathea medallion is not a prayer plant.

How often do you water calathea medallion?

Calathea plants are extremely drought tolerant, so water it sparingly. You can increase watering when calathea medallion is in bloom or if you have a problem with spider mites on the leaves of calathea medallion plant.

Is calathea indoor or outdoor?

The calathea plant is an indoor plant, but it can also be grown outdoors under very specific conditions.

Should you mist calathea?

Some calatheas, like calathea medallion (Calathea crotalifera) and calathea marginate are best left to air dry. But many calatheas benefit from a little misting. For example, calathea costaricensis thrives with regular watering but responds well to the occasional light spray. In general, calathea medallion plants should be watered once a week in the summer and every two weeks during winter.

If you live in an area where there are dry spells or high temperatures of more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius), misting calatheas might be necessary to keep them looking their best.

Why is my calathea medallion dying?

When calathea medallion is not getting enough light, it won’t survive. The calathea plant needs the same amount of sunlight as a south facing window gets in order to grow and thrive. Too much water can also be problematic for calathea plants – try watering once every few weeks instead.


That calathea medallion is an interesting plant to have in your home. The calathea plants are known for their beautiful, ornate leaves which can be best seen when the sun shines on them and the way they grow upwards like a spiral-like pattern. Calathea Medallions make great additions to any room of the house. We hope this medallion calathea care guide helps you!

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