How To Propagate Calathea (With Photos)

The genus Calathea is made up of many species of beautiful plants, often prized for their unique and striking foliage. Whether you have a rattlesnake plant or a beautiful yellow fusion, there are many reasons you may want to propagate this popular houseplant.

I like to divide my Calathea plants when they get too big for our indoor space. Being such a lovely houseplant, they’re easy to offload to friends and family.

Calathea division with roots

While you may be familiar with propagating plants by stem or leaf cuttings, Calathea propagation is done by making divisions from the parent plant. In this step-by-step guide, I will show you how to propagate your Calathea plant using the division method.

Be sure to check out our Calathea care guide to keep your plant happy and healthy.

How To Propagate Calathea (Step By Step)

Depending on the age of the plant, dividing your Calathea is a relatively simple process. The number of plants you end up with will vary, depending on how many divisions you take from the mother plant. The propagation process can be somewhat traumatic for the plant, as you are disturbing the root system. Keep this in mind as not every plant will survive this process.

1. Choose a healthy Calathea plant to take your divisions from.

Calathea plant yellow fusion

Always choose a healthy plant to take your divisions from. This will result in successful propagations. The best time to take your divisions is in the active growing season (spring or early summer). But, it can be done at any time. You’ll want to choose a mature plant with active growth for the best results. 

In this example, I am dividing a Calathea yellow fusion. It has been happily growing outdoors for the last 3 months and it is time to bring it inside for the winter.

2. Gently remove the plant from it’s pot.

Calathea rootball

Being as careful as possible, gently remove the plant from the existing pot. You can use a large plastic container or a wheelbarrow to keep the process tidy. Shake off any excess soil.

3. Using your fingers, gently work through the root ball.

Calathea plant being divided and propagated

As you work through the roots, be mindful of the fragile roots and try not to break any of them. Dividing the plant is a delicate process that can take some time. Some of the divisions should fall away naturally as you work through the plant.

Divide the plant as many times as you would like and get ready to re-pot the separate plants. If the plant is very tangled or attached, you may need to make a clean cut with a sharp knife. However, I strongly recommend you try and encourage the plant divisions pull free naturally, if possible. It’s always okay to plant multiple divisions into one pot.

Calathea divisions

4. Prepare a well-draining soil mixture.

Calathea soil mix

A well-draining soil mix is essential to prevent root rot and keep the new plants alive and healthy. Any fresh potting soil mixed with some perlite will work. Be sure to pre-moisten the potting mix before placing the divisions into the fresh mix.

5. Situate your divisions in the potting soil and water.

Small calathea repotted

Fill the bottom of the pot with a few inches of soil and place your divisions inside the pot. It’s okay if the plant’s roots touch the bottom of the pot. Do not use too large of a pot to re-pot your Calathea divisions. These plants like to be cozy in their containers and will reward you with new foliage after the new roots develop.

Then, give them a good drink of water. Excess water should freely drain out the bottom.

Place them in a warm location with bright, indirect light. You can also place the divisions in clean water and let them grow water roots.

These plant do prefer higher humidity levels. So, you can use a plastic bag (with ventilation) over the leaves to encourage healthy growth. In a few weeks, you should see new growth emerge.

Calathea Propagation Tips

  • Calathea plants tend to do better with filtered water. Minerals and chlorine in your tap water can build up and cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow. So, be sure to water your new divisions with filtered water if possible.
  • Always choose divisions from a healthy, actively growing plant. This will help ensure success of your divisions.
  • When dividing your plants, be very gentle with the root system. The process is traumatic and a light hand works best. Do not force or pull any of the roots apart.
  • If your Calathea was growing outdoors, keep it separate from any indoor plants for a few weeks. This is important for pest prevention.
  • Keep your divisions moist (but not soggy) and in a warm/bright place for optimal growth. Additional humidity can also help your propagation grow.

These tropical plants have become increasingly popular over the years. With proper care, they will reward you with beautiful foliage for years to come.

I hope this step by step guide helped you better understand how to propagate Calathea plants. Even with their finicky reputation, they’re one of my favorite houseplants to keep and add amazing color to any home.

Other propagation guides:

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