The Calathea White Star (Geoppertia Majestica) is arguably one of the most beautiful Calathea varieties. It has intricate, elongated leaves and white striped variegation that occasionally gets a blush of pink.
The appearance of the Calathea White Star may be intimidating, but they are not too difficult to care for. They will flourish as long as they live in moist soil and warm and humid environments that mimic their natural habitat.
All About Calathea White Star
The White Star is one of the Calathea varieties that have recently been reclassified as Geoppertia. However, many still consider it a Calathea for its appearance and care requirements. Calathea White Star has several nicknames, such as Calathea Majestica or the Majestica Prayer Plant.
Calathea White Star is a member of the Marantaceae family, commonly known as Prayer Plants. They get their name from how their leaves will move in certain light conditions.
During the evening, the Calathea White Star will fold its leaves upward, exposing the purple backing to its leaves. This mimics the motion of praying hands. During the day, the leaves will open again to absorb light.
In the wild, Calathea White Stars live along the tropical forest floor. They receive dappled sunlight from the overhead forest canopy. They enjoy warm temperatures and very high humidity levels.
Calathea White Star vs Calathea Vittata
Calathea White Star is often mistaken for a similar relative, the Calathea Vittata. While they are quite similar, the Vittata has a larger gap between their cream-colored stripes. In addition, the Vittata has a green-colored backing to its leaves as opposed to the White Star, which has a purple backing.
Is Calathea White Start Pet Safe?
Calatheas, in general, are pet-friendly plants.
However, if you suspect your pet has consumed your Calathea White Star, it is best to speak with your veterinarian.
Even if a plant is not toxic, it can cause your pet an upset stomach, skin irritation, or allergic reactions. Therefore, it’s best to keep your Calathea White Star in a location inaccessible to pets or children.
How to Care For Calathea White Star
|Light||Calathea White Star are low light tolerant, but medium light levels are ideal for this variety (Approximately 200-400 Foot Candles)|
|Water||Calathea White Star prefers consistently moist soil, so you should water when the soil is nearly dry. If you use a moisture meter, the meter should read between 1-2.|
|Soil Mix||Soil should have some drainage elements but also moisture retention. See our best DIY soil mix for Calatheas.|
|Temperature||Keep temperatures very warm for your Calathea White Star, ideally 65ºF (18ºC) to 85ºF (30ºC)|
|Pots||Ceramic, plastic nursery pots or self-watering pots are recommended. Avoid terracotta. Learn more about the Best Pots for Calathea here.|
Calathea White Stars require moist but not saturated soil. In their natural environment, Calathea White Stars have access to plenty of moisture beneath the tropical canopy. However, Calathea White Stars have thin, delicate foliage and quickly lose moisture. This means they will not survive very long in dry soil.
Water your Calathea when the soil is nearly dry but not completely dry.
One way to check your Calathea White Star’s soil is to stick your finger approximately 1-2 inches into the soil. If you notice soil residue stuck to your finger, it is still moist. You can also lift your Calathea’s pot. If it is lightweight, this means that the soil is dry.
The most accurate way to tell if your Calathea White Star’s soil is ready for more water is by using a moisture meter. As you would your finger, stick the probe an inch or two into the soil. It will read the moisture levels and let you know whether the soil is dry, moist, or wet. If the moisture meter reads closer to dry (typically levels 1 or 2), your Calathea White Star is ready for a drink.
Should You Bottom Water Your Calathea White Star?
There are two ways that you can water your Calathea White Star.
The first method is top watering. Pour water over the top of your Calathea’s soil and allow it to drain through the drainage holes. Once it drains through, you can water it once more to ensure it receives a thorough watering. This will help your Calathea develop healthy, even root growth.
The second method is bottom watering. With this method, you will place your Calathea’s pot in a container of water. Allow the plant to absorb the water through the drainage holes. Once the top of your Calathea’s soil becomes moist, you can remove its pot from the container.
You may find bottom watering your Calathea very convenient, but either method will suit your Calathea White Star.
If you bottom water your White Star regularly, make sure to water it from the top every once in a while. This will flush any toxins from the soil.
Water Type and Temperature
Calathea White Star is also very sensitive to water temperature and minerals. Giving your Calathea White Star tap water can result in crispy tips or brown spots on the leaves.
Instead, give your Calathea White Star filtered water or rainwater if you can source it. If not, leave your tap water overnight to encourage some of the minerals to evaporate.
It’s also essential to give your Calathea White Star water that is at room temperature. Cold water can cause your White Star to go into shock.
Calathea White Stars will lose moisture from their foliage in dry temperatures. This is a process known as transpiration. To protect the foliage, you will want to replenish your Calathea White Star’s moisture levels.
You can do this by providing a humid environment. Keep your space between 60-80% humidity but never below 50% humidity. If you are unsure what your humidity levels are in your space, you can purchase a hygrometer.
There are several ways that you can boost your humidity levels. For example, you can add a pebble tray or decorative jars with water to evaporate around your Calathea White Star. You can also keep your Calathea in a naturally more humid location, like a bathroom or a kitchen. However, adding a humidifier to your space is the most efficient way to increase humidity levels.
Lastly, ensure your Calathea White Star is not kept near vents, fireplaces, or drafty windows. All these locations can decrease the humidity around your plant.
While Calatheas are low light tolerant plants, Calathea White Star should have medium light levels. Since the White Star has a lot of white variegation on the leaves, it will need a bit more light than a typical Calathea. This is because the white portions of the plant do not contain chlorophyll, which is crucial for photosynthesis.
However, too much bright light will cause the ornate patterns to fade, losing pink color, and can even burn the leaves. You will want to find a happy medium.
If you have a light meter, medium light levels will measure closer to 400 Foot Candles. If not, you can place your Calathea White Star near an eastern-facing window. East windows are most idyllic because they offer gentle morning light. Otherwise, you can keep your Calathea White Star pulled back several feet from a Southern or Western exposed window.
If you suspect that your Calathea White Star has stunted growth due to a lack of natural light, you can supplement it with an artificial grow light.
Since Calathea White Star are very sensitive to chemicals or minerals, choosing a gentle fertilizer is essential. Your Calathea White Star will do well with a balanced fertilizer mix. Look for a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) of 10-10-10.
To prevent fertilizer or chemical burns on your Calathea White Star, diluting your mixture with extra water is important. Fertilize sparingly during the growing season so you can monitor your Calathea. A great balanced fertilizer is Marphyl, which my Calathea White Star loves!
Soil and Potting
You should choose soil with moisture retention ingredients like coco coir or potting mix and drainage elements. Drainage elements include perlite or orchid bark. This will ensure that the soil has enough aeration so the roots can breathe without causing them to dry out. Here is a soil mix that works for every type of Calathea.
Your Calathea White Star will need a pot that helps with moisture retention, but it must have drainage holes. Drainage will not only remove excess water from your pot but also flush out any toxins, bacteria, or fungi in the soil.
Using pots without drainage holes can lead to root rot and several other potential diseases
Calathea White Stars do well in ceramic or plastic pots, as these pot types help retain moisture. If your ceramic pot does not have drainage holes, you can plant your Calathea White Star in a plastic pot or a nursery pot. Then, place that pot inside the ceramic pot as a cache pot.
If you struggle with watering your Calathea on time, they also do well in a self-watering pot. Avoid terracotta pots because they will draw moisture out of the soil, drying out your Calathea White Star too quickly.
Your Calathea’s roots should occupy approximately 1/3 of the pot, with 2/3 of the pot filled with soil medium. If the pot is too large, your Calathea will not be able to absorb water from the soil before the roots start to rot. If it is too small, your Calathea will dry out too quickly.
Calathea White Stars can only be propagated through division. This is unlike many plants, which can develop roots from stem or leaf cuttings. Calatheas develop rhizomes beneath the soil, which will produce new leaves.
If your Calathea White Star is mature enough, you will notice that there may be multiple plants in one pot. You can propagate them by removing the soil and carefully separating the rhizomes.
Fortunately, these new plants should have roots that have already developed. If not, you can place the young plant in water to encourage root growth. Otherwise, you can plant your new Calathea White Star directly into the soil.
I used to consider Calathea White Stars slow growers until I gradually introduced a grow light. If your Calathea White Star is not producing many new leaves, you can try slowly introducing a bit more light to its environment.
During the active growing season, your Calathea White Star should produce at least five new leaves, as long as it hasn’t gone dormant due to shock. If it isn’t growing for you, consider inspecting your Calathea’s environment.
Check it over for pests or diseases that could stunt its growth.
When you bring home your Calathea White Star, you should hold off repotting until it has adjusted to your environment. Calathea White Star are susceptible to shock if they experience drastic changes in their environment. So it’s best to give your Calathea White Star about a month to six weeks to adjust to its new setting before repotting it. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, such as:
- The pot or soil poses an immediate risk to your Calathea White Star (for example, no drainage).
- Your new Calathea has a pest problem.
- Your new Calathea is severely pot-bound. Some signs include roots popping out of the drainage holes, or the roots have taken the shape of the pot.
If your Calathea has outgrown its old pot, you should choose a new pot that is 2 inches larger than its previous home.
Common Problems & Pests for Calathea White Star
One challenge unique to the Calathea White Star is that its ornate leaves make it very difficult to detect pests at first glance. This is especially true when it comes to thrips. Thrips are long, thin, black pests that will severely damage your Calathea White Star in a short time. They will hide under your White Star’s leaves in small crevices. The larvae are small, white insects. They live on either side of the leaf or the stem and can easily hide on those white stripes.
Thrips enjoy new growth, so one of the first signs to look for is new leaves unfurling with brown spots, crispness, or damage. It is crucial to clean your Calathea White Star leaves regularly. While cleaning, you can inspect them for pests before they become infested. You can treat your Calathea White Star for thrips with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Spider mites are another common pest you may find on your Calathea White Star. These pests will form a fine silk webbing under the leaves or between the stems. Here’s how you can get rid of spider mites from your Calathea plants!
Leaf Spot Fungus
Leaf Spot Fungus is a common problem with Calathea White Star. They tend to be the most susceptible to this fungus, which is caused by a lesion forming in the leaf, where fungi will enter. These lesions can occur from a pest munching on the leaf or damage from a physical injury. They can also occur from puddles of water sitting on the leaf, which is expected if you mist your Calathea White Star.
Leaf spot fungus often goes untreated because it is mistaken for crispy leaves.
- If your Calathea White Star develops brown spots that do not start at the tip of the leaf, it is almost certainly a fungal problem.
- However, if it is a watering or humidity issue, your Calathea White Star will develop brown spots or crispy leaves starting at the tip.
While you cannot reverse the existing damage, you can prevent future fungal damage. Prune the affected leaves and treat your plant with a fungicide solution or neem oil.
Overwatering or Underwatering
Overwatering or underwatering are the most common causes of an unhappy Calathea White Star. Your Calathea may develop brown, crispy tips from the loss of moisture. In addition, it may develop yellow or brown leaves, and the leaves may curl.
The best way to avoid over or underwatering is to use a moisture meter and only water when the soil is nearly dry but not completely dry.