Calathea «Mike» loves tropical humidity
Since the Calathea comes from the Brazilian rainforest, where it thrives near the ground in shady places, it requires a position without direct sunlight in the house. It only needs a little sunlight in the morning and evening, but otherwise it should be in the shade. It is much more important that you allow it a warm and humid climate without drafts and that you protect it from low temperatures. This means that the room temperature should never fall below 18 degrees and that you should spray it regularly (preferably every day) with lukewarm water without limescale. Make sure that you do not over-water (it does not tolerate waterlogging), but also that the roots never drie out. The plant also appreciates if you regularly clean the leaves with a damp cloth. Tip: if you want the plant to flower, it is advisable to place it in a room that is not lit in the evening from November to January. If you are lucky, you will see some inflorescences in January and February and they look really fantastic.
Calathea «Mike» is a plant with many names
Calathea has always fascinated people. This may explain why - apart from its botanical name - it was given so many trivial names. In English it is also called «Cathedral plant» or «Zebra plant»; in German it is known as «Maranta of baskets» or «Rattlesnake plant»; in French as «Living plant»; and in Italian as «Plant of prayer» or «Peacock plant». Well, at least the names rattlesnake, zebra and peacock are probably due to the extravagant leaf patterns. «Cathedral» could be related to the shape of the leaves or even of the whole plant. And the «Maranta of baskets» was probably created because the Calathea belongs to the Marantaceae family and the Native Americans made baskets from the leaves of the Calathea. The terms «Living plant» and «Plant of prayer» are beautiful. They arose because the leaves of Calathea move up at nighttime and lower in the daytime. Especially in the evening they look like praying hands.