How to Care for Calathea White Star – 9 Important Questions Answered

The Calathea white star is a real head-turner in the houseplant world with its artistic foliage patterns and variegated colors. Many plant lovers search high and low to add this to their collection as they differ from the average houseplant stocked in the local garden stores.

white room with calathea white star

Suppose you managed to get your hands on a Calathea white star for instance, or maybe someone has gifted you this precious plant to keep; you should know they are pretty fussy regarding living conditions.

While working at the indoor plant nursery, I came across a few varieties of Calatheas. They were some of the most attractive plants we grew but boy, were they picky with temperature and light conditions. After a few growing seasons, I sussed out exactly what care they needed to look amazing. Here are some methods I adopted to keep the Calathea white star looking captivating! 

 calathea white star

Table of Contents

Is Indirect Light Required?

This low-light plant thrives in bright indirect light. With 5 hours of bright indirect light daily, it will maintain its vibrant colors. If the prayer plant is exposed to bright sunlight for long periods, it will lead to the leaves being after losing its striking colors.

When you imagine this plant’s natural habitat growing from the base of trees in the jungle, it is no wonder they can be sensitive to sunny situations.

This is not to say that you need to keep them in the dark but be mindful of the position and where the sun beams into your home. An ideal position would be by a north-facing window or in or near the bathroom.

calathea white star with other plants next to window

What Water Should I Use?

Here comes the fussy bit about the Calathea white star…avoid using tap water on the prayer plant! It doesn’t react well to the chemicals (fluoride and other additives) in it. When watering, use filtered or distilled water or rainwater. Otherwise you will risk seeing your Calatheas leaves turn crispy with brown edges.

Keep the soil moist – not soaking, wet, or bone dry between waterings. With striped foliage that beautiful, this plant deserves the right to be water fussy!

The ideal watering routine for the Majestic Prayer plant will depend on the size and location of your plant. Nevertheless don’t let the soil dry out completely, or you will stress the plant out and lose every effort you made to keep it happy.

Check the top inch of the soil to see if it is damp and not soaking before watering. It’s crucial not to flood this plant as the Calathea white star has a super sensitive root system for root rot.

Another critical note for proper care when watering your Calathea is to ensure it’s not sitting in a pool of excess water. Moreover you want to make sure it is potted in well-draining soil to keep healthy roots.

calathea white star ariel view

What Soil Mix is Recommended?

You can create your own soil mix for the Majestic Prayer plant as they appreciate peat-free soil with good air circulation.

Try mixing Perlite (to retain moisture), Coir, orchid bark, and garden soil; this mix will give the root system a fast-draining medium to grow without the risk of roots rotting.

Aim for a soil pH of around 6.5 as the white star Calathea prefers slightly acidic soil. The regular potting mix will be pretty close. Additionally, you can increase the levels by using lime, wood ash, or baking soda.

Keep a pH soil test kit on hand to check the soil before re-potting.

Is Room Temperature Best?

The ideal temperatures for the white star Calathea are between 65- 80 degrees F (18.3-26C). Any sudden decrease in temperatures below this range can cause the plant’s leaves to drop.

For proper care and to keep the white star healthy in the winter, reduce the cold drafts in your home by keeping the windows closed. Moreover you can ensure any gaps are sealed up where cold air will enter.

The Calathea white can withstand temperatures that are the same as our room temperature. Some symptoms you might see when the white star is stressed from temperature change are browning of the leaves or curling at the edges.

close up of calathea leaves

Is High Humidity Necessary?

When it comes to controlling the humidity for the white star Calathea, aim for 50-60% to keep the fabulous foliage looking its best. When the Calathea white star is not receiving the proper humidity, you will see brown leaf tips. The leaves will also turn crispy.

Firstly, one way to keep high humidity for your white star in the home is to run a humidifier. Secondly you could keep your plants close together to create a microclimate. Lastly think about  keeping the plants in rooms where steam is produced, like the kitchen or the bathroom.

Some plant lovers use a pebble tray to maintain high humidity, and you can use this method with the Calathea white star too. Place the pot on top of a pebble tray and leave a small amount of water in the bottom. This will keep the moisture around the plant and increase humidity. Be sure to change the water regularly, as you don’t want it to become a breeding ground for pests.

Depending on how much of a plant display you have, you might opt for creating a terrarium.

I did this by recycling an old fish tank and have planted my tropical-loving species directly into it; it’s a huge talking point when people visit my home!

Another option is to keep a misting bottle on hand to keep the moisture in the air, and this is ideal in winter when the weather drops so suddenly.

calathea white star with wood background

What Fertilizer is Best?

A balanced slow-release fertilizer of 10-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) in the form of pellets can be used on the Calathea Majestica white star. Using a water-soluble fertilizer once a month will additionally assist in keeping it looking fresh.

Due to the Calathea white having a sensitive root system, err on the side of caution with over-fertilizing. It can cause a build-up of extra salt in the soil resulting in root rot.

When applying the fertilizer, choose a time during the growing season when the temperatures are warm and the plant gains energy. During the colder months, the Calathea white star has slowed down and doesn’t need any extra feed.

Can I Propagate a Calathea White Star?

Reproducing the second plant of the white star Calathea variety is pretty straightforward and can be done through root division. You will see the pups sprout from the base of the plant.

Calathea white star propagation can be done successfully by gently removing the root ball from the pot and shaking off the excess potting soil.

person holding young calathea white star in clay pot

As you remove the soil from the roots, you will see where the new babies have attached themselves to the mother plant.

You can use a clean, sharp pair of scissors to cut away any tangled roots. When you gently separate the babies from the mum, try to keep as much of the baby’s root system intact.

Once you have successfully separated the plants, re-pot them into pots with drainage holes and the same soil mix they have been growing. Then position them next to their mum as they develop their gorgeous foliage.

Is a Calathea Plant Toxic?

Typically, when we see something in nature that is so decorative, we are usually suspicious of its toxicity.

Unlike many indoor plants, the white star is a pet-friendly plant that is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and humans, which is excellent. The ASPCA has declared that it contains no toxic parts and will not be of any harm to dogs or cats if swallowed.

Happy days for plant lovers with four-legged friends!

close up of calathea leaves on white background

Are Calatheas Vulnerable to Pests and Problems?

Unfortunately, the Calathea white star is not a disease or pest-resistant plant, and it can experience its fair share of culprits that want to attack it from time to time. 

These are a few pests or common problems to be mindful of when growing the Calathea white star.

Spider Mites

These little critters are a problem for many plants, and the Calathea Majestic white star is no exception. You may notice brown or yellow patches on the plant leaves or fine webbing between the stems.

To eliminate the infestation, spray the Calathea white star with pressure using the hose or a kitchen sink sprayer. This should blast them off! If the problem continues, use a neem oil solution or pyrethrin in a spray bottle to reduce the numbers.

Fungus Gnats

This has to be one of the downsides to having an indoor garden with tropical plants; unfortunately, they are one of the most common pests. Fungus gnats love moisture, and the larvae eat the roots of your white star Calathea.

There are a few options to control these pests and keep your plant healthy, and you can see what works best for you. You can use yellow sticky traps to catch the flies, whereas some plant growers prefer to use ½ cup of warm water mixed with 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 4-6 drops of liquid soap solution in a bowl as a trap.

Personally, I use a neem oil spray for fungus gnats,. You can apply it to the surface of the soil to stop the larvae cycle as well, two birds one stone!

young calathea white star leaves growing

White Flies

These are similar to fungus gnats in appearance, but they don’t lay eggs or larvae in your plants’ soil; they prefer to lay their eggs on the foliage instead. This is a real pain when you have a plant with such ornate leaves like the Calathea white star.

The eggs hatch and the babies feed on the leaves and sap, so if you notice any of this happening to your Calathea white star, be sure to attack them with full force.

Create a foliage spray by mixing 4-6 drops of dish soap, 2 ⅖ tablespoons of olive oil, and ½ cup of water, or use a neem oil spray again. Sometimes I create a spray with 1 ½ teaspoons of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of dish soap for extra slippiness!

Scale Insects

These are small hard-shelled lumps on your plant’s stems or foliage. They look like they don’t move, and you can pick them off depending on your infestation.

However, they eat away at the Calathea white star and can cause wounds in the stem. This in turn leaves the plant open for further infections or diseases.

You can use a neem oil and dish soap spray on the infected plant. It won’t kill them completely, but it will harm them, and if you are determined enough, they should bugger off eventually!


Yep, these white fluffy bugs can be a nuisance for your Calathea Majestica white star, too. If you see any first signs of these, be quick to act.

Some people use a cotton bud dipped in rubbing alcohol to kill these, which seems quite tedious, depending on the size of the infestation.

If in doubt, get the neem out! Neem oil will control mealy bugs. You can spray the foliage once every seven days to stay on top of the number of pests.

Brown Leaf Tips

Brown leaf tips are a symptom of a few problems with the plant. You will see this happening if there is firstly a change in humidity, also too much salt builds up from fertilizing. Additionally if you have watered with tap water containing additives such as fluoride or chlorine. 

It’s a gentle reminder from your plant to change something and pay attention to its environmental needs.

Drooping leaves

Hydration, humidity, and light are the main reasons the leaves droop and eventually fall off the plant. The first sign will be drooping; if left for too long, they will dry out and fall off. 

Adjust your watering regime, room temperature, and humidity level to prevent this from happening.

Yellow Leaves

Like many house plants, yellow leaves can indicate that the plant has finished with that leaf and it is time to discard it. This will be the case if the leaves that are turning yellow are on the bottom part of the plant and are older.

If the yellowing is happening on the plant’s new growth, look at your watering routine and fertilizing because these are probably the main reasons for yellowing leaves.

Root Rot

The Prayer plant’s roots are super sensitive to root rot. So ensure you are not overwatering and are using well-draining soil to keep the roots healthy. 

Some symptoms of root rot include stunted growth, wilting of the leaves and mushy stems. If you take a look at the root ball of the plant you will notice the roots will be a reddish brown and the soil will smell pretty gross.

Double-check that the drainage holes are fully open at the pot’s base when potting the Prayer plant.

This seems like an obvious thing to do, but actually, sometimes they only partially cut the plastic for the holes!

About the Calathea White Star

The Brazilian natives are naturally found growing at the bases of the trees in the jungle of South America. They are recognized by their broad green leaves paired with subtle pink blush and violet undersides.

The Calathea white star is one of the ornata species. It’s commonly known as the Prayer plant or Calathea Majestic White. The name Prayer plant comes from the movement of the leaves where they open during the day and close at night.  

The Calathea white star reaches 4-5 ft (121 cm-152 cm) and was discovered by German botanist George Meyer in 1822. 

There is something quite striking about the Calathea white star when it is potted into a simple white pot for exmaple. The color of the pot seems to draw out the linear patterns on the leaves and make it look brighter.

As the Calathea white star matures the white pinstripes of the foliage become less defined making the leaves look more white than green. 

FAQ About Calathea White Star

How do you take care of a Calathea white star?

Take care of your calathea white star by keeping it in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil with good aeration. Keep the humidity levels between 50-70% and room temperature between 65-80 F  (18.3-26C). Fertilize once per month during the growing season with a well-balanced fertilizer 10-10-10 and keep the white star in bright indirect sunlight.

How do you keep Calathea white star pink?

To keep the foliage of your Calathea white star pink, ensure it is living in the most suitable environment possible. Any discoloration of your plant’s foliage results from changes in its light, temperature, soil nutrients, and humidity requirements.

Is white star Calathea rare?

The Calathea white star is not a rare plant of the Calathea species. It’s not commonly stocked in garden centers or supermarket stands, so you must endure a little hunting to get your hands on this one.

How often do you water Calathea white star?

Water the Calathea white star weekly or when the top inch of the soil is dry. You will notice less watering is needed during winter, so always check the first inch of the soil beforehand.

Does Calathea like sun or shade?

The white star Calathea flourishes in medium indirect sunlight and can tolerate lower light levels too. Direct sunlight will cause leaves to scorch and burn, so you should avoid it as much as possible.

Ready to Accept the Calathea White Star Challenge?

The Calathea white star is not the easiest plant to keep as a beginner. However if you enjoy a challenge and also want to reap the aesthetic rewards of this plant’s beautiful foliage, then why not give it a go? 

Calathea white star is an excellent plant to keep if your house has the ideal sunlight. The morning sun beaming through a room that keeps a steady temperature throughout the year, for instance.

Apart from its fussy water and light requirements, the other needs of the Calathea white star are similar to ours and more common house plants. Keep on hand a bottle of neem oil if you don’t have some already. Then you will be ready to attack any pests that might make their way to your prized plant.

Care About Calatheas as We Do?

Whether it’s the Calatheas or another plant you are interested in, we have a range covered in our care tips for your to look over. Once you have some favorites, you can also check out the our tools and advice to keep your indoor jungle looking tip top!  

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Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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