Calathea Freddie (also known as Calathea Mirabilis, Goeppertia Mirabilis, or Calathea Concinna) is unique among other Calatheas in appearance and care needs. While Calatheas are not typically beginner-friendly plants, the Calathea Freddie is a great choice for people looking to try caring for Calatheas as it tends to be hardier than other Calathea varieties.
All About Calathea Freddie
The Freddie’s botanical name is Goeppertia Mirabilis, as it has recently been classified under the Geoppertia genus. Despite its recent name change, it is still affectionately known as the Calathea Freddie due to its care requirements and ornamental foliage.
Calatheas are considered to be pet-friendly houseplants. However, it is always important to keep your Calathea Freddie in a safe space to avoid interactions with pets and children. Even if a plant is non-toxic, it can still cause digestive upset or allergic reactions. So it is always important to discuss options with your vet if your pet has gotten into your plant and is uncomfortable.
Calathea Freddie belongs to the Marantaceae family, also known as Prayer Plants. This means their leaves will bow in the light and fold up in the evening when it becomes dark. This particular leaf movement is called Nyctinasty.
Calathea Freddie often gets mistaken for Calathea Leopardina. This is due to the similarities in their shape and leaf patterns. If you’re unsure which type of plant you are dealing with, foliage is the biggest identifier. Calathea Freddie has more of a chevron or zebra-striped leaf pattern. Their stripes are much closer together, and the leaves are much shorter. Meanwhile, the Leopardina has longer, thinner leaves with more sparse stripes.
|Light||Medium light levels are ideal, but they are low light tolerant (approx 200-400 Foot Candles). Too much light will sunburn the leaves and may cause the patterns on the foliage to fade or become discolored.|
|Water||Water Calathea Freddie when the soil is nearly dry but not completely dry. If you are using a moisture meter, water when the meter reads 1-2.|
|Soil Mix||Soil Mix should have moisture retention as Calathea Freddie prefers moist soil. It also must contain some drainage materials to prevent root rot. Check out Best Soil Mix For Calathea to learn more.|
|Temperature||Prefers very warm temperatures. Ideally 65ºF (18ºC) to 85ºF (30ºC)|
|Pots||Ceramic, plastic pots, or self-watering pots are the best for Calathea Freddie. Terra cotta pots are not recommended. |
See Best Pots For Calathea to learn more.
Water your Calathea Freddie when the soil is nearly dry but not completely dry. If you use a moisture meter, it should read at a 2 or even a 1 before watering. Any higher and you may risk overwatering your plant. Any lower and your Calathea Freddie may suffer crispy tips or yellow leaves.
If you do not have a moisture meter, you can stick your finger deep into the soil and predict how moist or dry the soil is. If the soil is still moist, there will also be some residue on your finger. As the soil dries out, your Calathea’s pot will become much lighter, so simply lifting the pot can help you estimate if the soil has dried out.
Calatheas are typically quite sensitive to minerals naturally present in most tap water. So ideally, you will want to give your Calathea Freddie filtered water. You can also use rainwater or even freshwater aquarium water. Both have plenty of nutrients like nitrogen which Calatheas love. Fortunately, Calathea Freddie is one of the hardiest Calathea varieties. While they still require moist soil, they tend to be slightly less sensitive to water chemicals than other Calathea species.
As for humidity, Calatheas generally require around 60% humidity levels. However, since Calathea Freddie tends to be a bit hardier than other varieties, they can still do well in humidity levels closer to 50%.
If you want your Calathea Freddie to thrive, adding a humidifier is an excellent way to encourage healthy growth and prevent pests. There are other ways that you can increase humidity levels for your Freddie:
- Misting is not very effective but can be a relaxing way to boost humidity.
- Adding pebble trays or decorative jars of water around your Calathea Freddie
- Keep your Calathea Freddie in a naturally more humid space, like a kitchen or bathroom.
Unlike most Calatheas, Calathea Freddie does not have the famous purple backing to their leaves. This means that their light needs are different from other Calatheas. They cannot use the purple backing to reflect light into their foliage. This means that they tend to prefer closer to medium light levels.
Medium-light levels are a balance between a dark corner and a southern window that gets blasted by the sun all day long. While factors like trees, buildings, and overhangs may change the amount of light you receive, Calatheas do very well in eastern-facing windows. You can also keep them pulled back 5 feet from a southern-facing window. If you have western exposure, you should place your Calathea approximately 2-3 feet from that window. If you have a light meter, medium light levels range closer to 300-400 Foot Candles.
Choose a balanced fertilizer with an N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) ratio of 10-10-10 for your Calathea Freddie. However, be cautious about fertilizing your Freddie, as Calatheas are highly susceptible to fertilizer burn. Make sure to heavily dilute your fertilizer and use it sparingly only during the growing season. I use Marphyl, which has a balance of all three macronutrients for my Calathea Freddie, but you can use other similar brands as well.
Soil and Potting
Your Calathea Freddie will thrive in a mixture of moisture-retention ingredients (such as potting soil) and added drainage elements (such as perlite or orchid bark). This mix will ensure that while your Calathea still has drainage to prevent root rot, it will not dry out too quickly. Here’s the best soil mix for all Calathea varieties.
The best type of pot for Calathea Freddie is a ceramic pot, a plastic pot, or even a self-watering pot. It is imperative that whatever pot you choose for your Freddie has drainage.
Pot size is crucial, as choosing a pot that is too large for your Calathea can also lead to root rot. The roots should occupy at least one-third of the pot. This gives your Calathea Freddie some room to grow but will not be too large.
Take a look at this in-depth look at the best types of pots for all Calatheas.
You can successfully propagate your Calathea Freddie through division. New off-shoots will develop from the roots, which you can divide and repot. You can pot them directly into soil if it has an established root system. If there aren’t many roots, you can place them in water until stronger roots start to form. Unlike other genera of plants like Philodendron or Hoya, you cannot snip a stem cutting from your Calathea Freddie and propagate it. This is because roots will only develop from the rhizomes beneath the soil.
Under ideal conditions, Calathea Freddie can grow quite quickly, and it isn’t uncommon for them to produce five (or more!) leaves during the growing season. Supplementing your Calathea Freddie with grow lights can ensure that your Calathea Freddie will grow consistently year-round.
When your Calathea Freddie is ready for a new pot, you will find the roots poking out of the drainage holes in the pot. Roots may even be visible from the tops of the soil.
Calathea Freddie can tolerate a bit of crowding in the pot. However, if it becomes too pot-bound, you will find that you are constantly watering it as the roots will overtake the soil. When repotting any Calathea, the less you disturb the roots, the better.
Calathea Freddie tends to be more tolerant and less likely to go into transplant shock. Repot your rootbound Freddie in a pot two inches larger than its previous home, and be gentle with its roots.
Like most Calatheas, Calathea Freddies are not immune to pests. Thrips and spider mites tend to be the most destructive to Calathea Freddie, so inspect the leaves regularly for signs of pests.
Spider mites will look like dust collecting on the undersides of the leaves. They will likely form silk webbing between your Calathea Freddie’s stems. Learn more about getting rid of spider mites on Calathea here.
Thrips, on the other hand, can be more challenging to detect. They are tiny, thin insects that are excellent at hiding. Their larva will appear on the tops and bottoms of the leaves and are often mistaken for tiny specs of dust.
Both spider mites and thrips can destroy your Calathea Freddie in a matter of days if the infestation is severe.
A sign to look out for, particularly with your Calathea Freddie, is if new growth emerges damaged. Both spider mites and thrips will devour the new growth as it is the most tender and nutritious.
If you spot pests on your Calathea, there are a few ways you can eliminate them:
- Spray off any adults under the sink or shower.
- Treat your Calathea with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
- Treat the soil with a cap full of hydrogen peroxide and 500 ml of water or
- Discard the soil altogether.
While you are less likely to find fungal spots on your Calathea Freddie than other varieties of Calathea, it can still occur. If you notice that your Calathea is developing brown spots at the center of the leaf (as opposed to the outer tips), this is likely a fungal issue.
This can happen if any lesions have formed on the leaf. Lesions can occur from pests, physical damage, or even water puddling on the leaves from misting. These lesions leave your Calathea Freddie vulnerable to fungal spores.
Unfortunately, you cannot reverse the existing spots. But, you can treat your Calathea Freddie with a fungicide solution which you can find at your local garden center.
Underwatering and Overwatering
One of the most likely challenges you experience with your Calathea Freddie is overwatering or underwatering. The leaves may also turn yellow, curl or droop. While Calatheas prefer moist soil, they are still susceptible to root rot. The best way to prevent over or underwatering is to use a moisture meter to probe the soil.