Native to the forests of South and Central America, these ornamental plants can grow to an incredible height of eight feet. Calathea Lutea produces cup-shaped bracts, which is why they are popularly called Cuban Cigars. These reddish bracts preserve tiny yellow flowers. The flowers are quite unusual and make a unique contrast with the luxuriant green leaves.
Care guide highlights: Is it possible to cultivate this wild beauty indoors? Yes! As long as you imitate the natural environment of these tropical plants, they will adorn your home. They are highly sensitive to low temperatures and thrive best when kept in warm and humid conditions. Calathea Lutea is a very thirsty plant and requires regular watering and constantly moist soil. Make sure all the leaves get enough light.
Here’s what you will learn in my article:
- Does This Plant Have Any Specific Light Requirements?
- What are the Optimal Temperature and Humidity Levels?
- Watering Needs- Any Unusual Requirements?
- Ideal Soil for Calathea Lutea
- How to Propagate Successfully?
- Fertilization Do’s and Don’t’s
- Calathea Lutea Pruning and Repotting
- Common Problems and Solutions
- Frequently Asked Questions
Have I caught your attention? Let’s find out more captivating facts about Cigar Calathea!
Does This Plant Have Any Specific Light Requirements?
Calathea Lutea is a species that grows up to 13 feet in nature. With their extremely large leaves, they can absorb a larger amount of sunlight. They can be stored as houseplants, but only if you can provide extremely bright conditions.
Leaves can often grow unevenly or at strange angles, depending on how they face the light source. It is best to have a light source from above, like from ceiling windows.
In the jungle, this species grows under other trees so their light source has to pass through dense tropical canopies. This creates naturally filtered light and prevents leaf burns on Calathea Lutea.
It is recommended to grow a Cuban Cigar in the garden, positioned in soft light or partial Sun. They can tolerate bright suns well in the first half of the day, but if you leave them for too long it could be harmful. In areas with high humidity, Calathea Lutea can stay in almost full Sun. The upper surface of the leaves is green, but the lower is whitish and slightly waxy for the protection of the heat.
If you have left it in the Sun for too long, and the climate is not so humid, don’t worry! Like most Calatheas, these species can regenerate and easily recover if they have been damaged under the Sun. Of course, try to prevent this by placing your Calathea Lutea in the right spot!
What are the Optimal Temperature and Humidity Levels?
Calathea plant comes from the tropical parts of the world and enjoys temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Slightly twisted leaves will be the first sign that your plant isn’t enjoying current conditions. Most often, this issue occurs when temperatures vary too much. With a thermometer, you will have no problem keeping conditions for your Calathea Lutea stable.
This species feels best in warm and humid weather. The indoor room temperature should not be lower than 60 ºF, and the plant should not be kept in rooms with a lot of drafts. Tropical and subtropical climatic conditions are the most suitable for growing this plant. It usually blooms from spring to summer, but in warmer regions, you can expect flowering throughout the year.
It is sensitive to low temperatures, so if you live in a changing climate, this plant must spend the winter indoors, with lots of light and moderate watering. Feel free to mist these plants regularly to maintain high humidity. This will prevent the edges of the leaves of your Calathea Lutea from turning yellow and keep the whole stem healthy and hydrated.
Cuban Cigar prefers moist areas. With their broad, rich, and green leaves, they absorb moisture through the air. It is necessary to maintain the humidity level above 70%. If you maintain at least 50% relative humidity during the year, the plant will grow successfully. If the leaves darken at the tops or start to fall off in the worst case, it means that the air conditions are too dry.
Before we proceed, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of other interesting Calatheas:
Watering Needs- Any Unusual Requirements?
These plants require regular watering, especially during the growing season. During that season, never allow the soil of Calathea Lutea to be completely dry. It will be necessary to adjust the watering routine during the cold months. During the winter, the plant becomes dormant and prone to rot. Apply enough water to keep the soil moist at all times, but never flooded.
In conclusion, water your Calathea Lutea once a week during the summer, and once every two weeks when the temperatures drop. In any case, allow the soil to dry before the next watering. When your plant is under strong sunlight, abundant watering is needed, as opposed to keeping the plant in soft light.
it is recommended to use filtered or distilled water for Calathea plants. They are free from such minerals and salts that can hurt the plant. The leaves are often damaged by fluoride in the tap water.
Ideal Soil for Calathea Lutea
An important factor for growth is, of course, the substrate in which it grows. The soil should contain abundant organic matter, pay special attention to that. Also, it must retain a certain amount of moisture so that the roots can feed the organic nutrients. In addition to moist and enriched soil, it should also have good drainage.
This species could survive in depleted soils, but do not expect them to reach their full potential. The addition of a good organic substrate increases fertility and growth. The soil is fundamental for the carefree growth of your plant. Soil acidity should vary from acidic to neutral.
Based on the required soil qualities for Calathea Lutea, a combination of organic material and drainage amendments makes an ideal soil, and you can make the mixture by yourself! Let me give you a few good suggestions if you are still new to gardening.
Use one-half of the potting soil, and an equal ratio of orchid bark and charcoal. Also, be sure to add perlite for better drainage. Another great choice is to use a mixture of worm castings, perlite, coconut coir, and orchid bark in equal ratio with extra charcoal.
How to Propagate Successfully?
The easiest way to propagate Calathea plants is by dividing. These houseplants tend to grow better when divided and transplanted in early spring before the growing season.
Calathea Lutea is not propagated by stem or leaf cuttings. These species are not suitable for this method of reproduction. Stem cuttings do not contain the necessary plant tissue for the growth of new roots and the development of an individual plant.
A few days before you plan to divide, water the soil thoroughly. Remove the whole Calathea Lutea from the pot and gently clean the soil from the roots. Carefully separate the root system and divide it with a sharp incision with pruning shears. Make sure that each cluster has its root system and that the leaves are still on the stem. If everything seems fine, you are free to transfer the new plant into a separate pot and take proper care of it.
The adjustment period after the propagation of Calathea Lutea is crucial. Keep the soil moist but don’t make it soggy. Maintain steady conditions, warm and humid environment. Cover the new seedlings with a plastic tent to create a greenhouse effect and increase the humidity.
Add nitrogen fertilizer to the previously moistened soil to encourage growth. Use a diluted mixture every two weeks or once a month. Within a few weeks, you will be able to proudly show off your new Calathea Lutea.
Fertilization Do’s and Don’t’s
Calathea Luthea requires regular nutrition. To encourage growth in the early spring, feed your plant once a month with liquid fertilizer.
These plants naturally stop growing during the winter dormancy period, so they shouldn’t be fertilized. In the case of repotting, you also shouldn’t use fertilizer for at least four weeks. An aggressive influx of fertilizer at that time can damage the roots and make it difficult for your plant to re-establish itself.
Use a balanced fertilizer in an equal ratio of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Before fertilizing, be sure to water the plant to protect the roots, the first 3 inches of the soil should be moderately moist.
Watch out for the accumulation of excess salt in the soil. If you notice some damage along the edges of the leaves, stop feeding immediately. Eliminate excess salt by rinsing the entire soil of the plant and then lightly dry it. Place the plant in fresh, new soil and avoid feeding for some time.
Calathea Lutea Pruning and Repotting
These plants can grow abundantly. In two years, they can reach a size that requires more space in the pot, but it is not recommended to take a much larger pot for various reasons. Increase them by 2 to 5cm.
The new pots must have drainage holes in the bottom, do not be fooled by modern pots without holes because your plant will not be able to develop in them.
Always pay attention to the choice of soil and use an extremely drained mixture from the pot. When transplanting it, add a fresh mixture to the new pot, because your plant needs a new healthy start.
This species sometimes doesn’t react well to moving, so it is important to avoid transplanting an already damaged Calathea plant. Many young gardeners had a bad experience after transplanting because the plant did not adapt well.
So, what procedure will make your plant happy with the results?
Transplanting should be done in early or mid-spring when your plant enters a phase of rapid growth. Then it will be much easier for her to overcome the shock and adapt to the new environment.
Place the pot sideways and carefully remove the plant. Be gentle with the leaves, you want your plant to remain intact in this procedure. Clean the soil from the roots to prepare the plant for the new environment. In a new pot, add the substrate and place the plant so that it feels grounded.
Finally, keep the soil moist to ensure Calathea adapts to the new home. Place the plant in moderate heat and light. Be patient as it will take a few weeks for it to start growing again and producing new divine leaves.
As for trimming, this plant does not require routine pruning. Damaged or aged leaves that have turned yellow should be cut off for the Calathea Lutea to develop new healthy leaves more easily. Damaged leaves slow down the general growth, and at the same time, they are not aesthetically pleasing.
Common Problems and Solutions
Calathea like many tropical plants can occasionally have uninvited guests. The most common are spider mites, fungal mosquitoes, scale, and mealybugs.
Spider mites are big fans of Calatheas in general, and Calathea Lutea is not an exception. They appear mainly in winter due to dry air. Fortunately, you can easily remove them by increasing the humidity by misting your plant more frequently. Humidity levels above 50% will ensure they don’t come back.
Unlike spider mites, soggy soil can invite fungal mosquitoes. On the surface of the soil, you will notice tiny pests that feed the root of the plant. Stop watering immediately and allow the soil to dry well. You can also add 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted by water to the substrate.
Beware the mealybugs!
These tiny pests are difficult to eradicate because they sneak into the soil or tiny cracks in the stems. Calathea will suddenly begin to lose vitality and energy, so it is important to react quickly when you notice these pests. Use Neem oil as a natural alternative or insecticide to make sure it won’t come back.
Yellow leaves are a common occurrence in the Calathea plant and can have a variety of causes. One of the issues that cause this phenomenon is leaf chlorosis. This means that you need to water less frequently, and you should double the dose of fertilizer. If the problem persists, use the elimination system to find out what are you doing wrong.
Related: Calathea Plants: Ultimate Care Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
Calathea Lutea belongs to the family Marantaceae. They are not just ornamental plants, but they are also used for practical purposes. In many countries, the leaves are used in cooking, mainly to wrap fish and rice. Residents of Guatemala use them to wrap delicious tamales. In some communities, these plants are used to make wicker baskets.
With its thick leaves gracefully standing on tall stems, it makes a divine sight in every garden, and especially in the home. They will look good in the ground and pots, it is your choice. Honestly, they don’t require any more care than other tropical species, but they will ennoble your home with their splendid appearance. If you relish in exotic tropical sights, this is the ideal plant for your home!