Choosing Best Pots For Calathea & What You Should Avoid

best pots for calathea

If you have been wondering which pot is best for Calatheas, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go through common types of houseplant pots and whether or not they are suitable for Calatheas. We’ll also highlight what you should look for when choosing a pot for your Calathea from sizing to depth. 

Calatheas are very happy in ceramic pots, plastic (or nursery) pots and even self-watering pots. You want to avoid porous potting materials like terracotta. At a minimum, the pot you choose for your Calathea must have good drainage and be the proper size if you want your Calathea to thrive. 

Avoid setting your Calathea up for failure by choosing the best pot type for both your plant and your environment. 

Pot Requirements For Calatheas


Regardless of your chosen pot, it must have drainage if you want your Calathea to survive. 

Drainage holes will allow the excess water to escape the pot, preventing root rot. 

Root rot occurs when the roots are left in soaking wet soil for too long, causing the roots to deteriorate and form lesions. These lesions will leave your Calathea vulnerable to bacterial and fungal diseases. 

If the root rot is severe, your Calathea will no longer be able to absorb water effectively, which will cause the leaves to turn brown and die off. The rot may even ascend to the stem, causing the stem to become mushy. 

Drainage holes also ensure that toxins, bacteria and fungi will drain out of the pot once it filters through the soil. 

Allowing excess water and toxins to sit at the bottom of the pot will subject your Calathea to infection, rot, and many other problems. 

Make sure the drainage holes are located at the bottom of the pot instead of on a lip or groove. You want to avoid any water being able to pool at the bottom of the pot. 


Choosing the proper size pot is crucial for your Calathea’s success. 

The pot you use should not be too large, as it will increase the likelihood of giving your Calathea root rot. This happens when the roots cannot absorb water efficiently because there is too much wet soil for what your Calathea needs. 

On the other hand, you will want to ensure that the pot is not too small for your Calathea. If the pot is too small, your Calathea will absorb water too quickly, drying out the soil faster than you can keep it moist. This can result in crispy tips or yellowing leaves. 

If you are repotting your Calathea, choosing a pot 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous pot is important. If your Calathea was potted in a 6-inch pot, you would want to upgrade to an 8-inch pot. 

Otherwise, you want to ensure that the roots occupy approximately one-quarter to one-third of the pot. This gives them more room to grow without drowning them in soil.

Do Calatheas Need Deep Pots?

How deep of a pot you choose will depend on the size of your Calathea and the size of your Calathea’s roots

If you have a small, juvenile plant, you should not pot your Calathea in a very deep pot, as this will increase the likelihood of overwatering and root rot. 

Calathea Freddie in a 6-inch nursery pot

Most Calatheas are sold in garden centers in 4-inch or 6-inch pots. 

If your Calathea is comfortable in a 4-inch pot and the roots are not poking out of the bottom, it’s best to keep it potted in a 4-inch-deep pot. 

If your Calathea looks pot-bound, where the roots poke out of the bottom or come out of the top, then you will want to choose a 6-inch pot for your next pot. 

Different Types of Pots for Calatheas

Terracotta Pots

When choosing the best type of pot for your Calathea, consider the material first. 

For example, porous, unglazed clay pots like terracotta pots would not work well for Calathea, as they draw moisture away from the soil.

You may find your Calathea is more prone to crispy tips and brown or yellowing leaves in a terracotta pot simply because it will dry out the soil too fast. 

Calathea Orbifolia in a terracotta pot

Calatheas prefer evenly moist soil. If you choose a terra cotta pot, you may find yourself constantly watering your Calathea to keep it happy.

Terracotta is much more compatible with plants with more succulent leaves or certain aroids susceptible to root rot. Still, it’s best to avoid them for Calathea if possible.

If the color and aesthetic are important, you can opt for a glazed pot to help prevent moisture loss. 

Ceramic Pots

On the other hand, Ceramic pots are an excellent choice for Calathea, as they are very moisture-retentive pots.

calathea in ceramic pots

Unlike terracotta, ceramic pots will not interfere with moisture levels in the soil. Not only that, but they are quite decorative and will compliment your beautiful Calathea’s leaves. 

The biggest challenge regarding ceramic pots is that many don’t have drainage holes. So, make sure that if you pot your Calathea in a ceramic pot, there is plenty of drainage to prevent root rot, or use a cache pot (see below). 

Plastic (Nursery Pot)

It may surprise you that most traditional nursery pots suit your Calathea just fine.

These pots often come with excellent drainage, but they are moisture retentive. This means that you don’t have to worry quite as much about your Calathea drying out too quickly. 

Nursery pots are very easy to come by. If you have many plants, you can reuse the nursery pots to keep the cost and environmental impacts low. Nursery pots are also very inexpensive, making them a great choice. 

The biggest complaint when using a nursery pot or a plastic pot is that they are less ornamental or decorative around the house. Many people dislike the way that plastic pots look for Calatheas. They are ornamental houseplants and plastic pots tend to look cheap or unsightly. 

Cache Pots

For those who appreciate the benefits of using a plastic nursery pot but dislike the aesthetic component, you can set up a cache pot.

For example, if you find a ceramic pot with no drainage holes or otherwise unsuitable for your plant, you can use it as a cache pot for your Calathea. Plant your Calathea in a nursery pot and place it inside the decorative ceramic pot. You will want to ensure that the nursery pot is smaller than the decorative exterior pot.

calathea in a decorative plant basket

You can also put your nursery pot inside a decorative plant basket.

Most Calatheas kept on shelves at eye level or higher will prevent anyone from seeing the interior pot. Not only are you preventing overwatering, but your Calathea will still look beautiful. 

When it is time to water your Calathea, remove the plastic pot first. This will allow the water to drain through the nursery pot and place it back in the decorative pot when finished. 

Some people will also use cache pots to bottom water their Calatheas by pouring water into the decorative pot first. The soil and roots will absorb the water through the drainage holes. 

Self-Watering Pots

Self-watering pots are becoming increasingly popular. They are another excellent option for Calathea owners who know that keeping up with watering their plants can be challenging. 

calathea in a self watering pot

Most self-watering planters work through sub-irrigation. The water reservoir sits under the pot and is fed into the soil as needed. As a result, the soil will absorb only the necessary water, keeping the soil consistently moist. Many already use this method to water their plants, known as bottom watering. 

Self-watering pots work well for Calatheas when used correctly because they ensure consistency. In addition, the plant never becomes fully dry, which can help eliminate the human error involved in watering by hand.

There can be, however, some drawbacks to using a self-watering pot for your Calathea. 

First, forgetting to fill the water reservoir over time can be even more likely, as it can create a lack of urgency. Make sure that you still monitor the water intake of your Calathea regularly. 

The second challenge will depend on the type of self-watering pot you use. Some pots will prevent that necessary process of drainage where the plant can filter out toxins in the soil. Instead of the water entering the soil and draining out the bottom, the plant will absorb the water upwards. This may cause your Calathea to be susceptible to certain fungal or bacterial problems. 

Avoid Unconventional Pots

You may see many videos online of plants potted in unconventional pots, from glass to wood, to metal pots. In addition, some people will plant houseplants in teapots or on wood planks.

In most cases, this is often done temporarily for aesthetic purposes, and some houseplants may survive in these situations. However, you should avoid these pots for Calatheas at all costs. 

Some houseplants can survive in unconventional pots because they are epiphytic plants. This means that they grow on tropical forest trees.

Calatheas grow directly in the soil along the forest floor in the wild, so they do best in a typical houseplant pot. Calatheas will grow poorly in an unconventional pot.

They prefer their roots to be disturbed as little as possible and are highly sensitive to chemicals found in metal pots, for example, when they rust. 

Suppose there is a type of pot that you particularly love but will not be suitable for your Calathea. In this case, you can always use it as a cache pot and keep your Calathea planted in a nursery pot. 

Can I Add a Pebble Tray to My Calathea’s Pot?

Calatheas are humid-loving tropical houseplants, so it would be helpful if you incorporate a pebble tray to your Calathea’s pot. Calatheas prefer humidity levels above 60%, but at a minimum, above 50% to avoid getting crispy tips. 

In most cases, a pebble tray will not increase humidity levels as effectively as adding a humidifier would. However, there is minimal risk in adding one. 

calathea on a pebble tray

To add a pebble tray to your Calathea’s pot:

  1. Place a tray with a light layer of pebbles, decorative rocks or gravel under your Calathea’s pot.
  2. Make sure that the tray has a lip to prevent water from spilling.
  3. Add water to the tray without completely submerging the pebbles.

The purpose of the pebbles is to keep your Calathea’s pot elevated from the water. In addition, the water from the pebble tray will evaporate and provide extra humidity to your Calathea’s leaves.

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