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Calathea Dottie Care

Learn my trips and tricks for helping your Calathea Dottie thrive!

Caring for the mildly dramatic calathea Dottie

I’ve written about general calathea care tips in the past, and I’ve tried many times to swear off calatheas. Why? Because they are a bit higher maintenance than some other houseplants. And I just don’t have a lot of time for needy plants.

They are beautiful, though. The last calathea I wrote about was the Calathea Network, so check that article out. It’s an easier calathea. But the Calathea Dottie? Well, she’s lucky she’s gorgeous. Because I can’t ignore her for weeks on end and have her stay happy.

calathea dottie plant

Calathea Dottie care overview

  • Variety of calathea with deep green and pink variegated leaves.
  • Created through a tissue culture derived from Calathea rosea picta.
  • Ideal lighting is bright indirect or medium light levels; avoid direct sunlight to prevent leaf burn and color fading.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, avoiding tap water in some cases due to its treatment variations.
  • Soil should be light, well-aerated, and capable of retaining moisture while allowing excess water to drain.
  • High humidity is essential for Dottie to thrive.
  • Does well in all normal household temperature levels.
  • Grows at an average speed; repot when the roots grow out of the drainage holes.

Calathea Dottie origins

Calathea plants in general come from tropical areas of Central and South America. A calathea Dottie is a variety of calathea plant with deep green—sometimes nearly black—leaves accented with hot pink variegation. The undersides of the leaves are a pinkish-green, and the color deepens as the leaves mature.

According to the U.S. patent database, the creator of this variety of calathea is Anne E. Lamb. The patent was first filed in the year 2000, but Anne created the plant in Florida in 1998. She did so using a tissue culture derived from Calathea rosea picta.

Anne leveraged a naturally occurring mutation in the plant to invent the Calathea Dottie. It is a stable variety and has caught on in the last 2 decades as a popular houseplant. So we have Anne to thank for this gorgeous variety—check out that pink!

pink underside of a calathea dottie plant

What is the best light?

Calatheas might be a bit high maintenance in some ways, but one way they are not that high maintenance is with light. They like bright indirect light but can do well with medium light levels, too. So you don’t need to put your Calathea Dottie in the sunniest spot in your home.

In fact, too much direct light will burn its delicate leaves. And too much light can also fade the striking colors. A window where the plant gets morning or early afternoon sun is great. You could also choose a south- or west-facing window but put the plant several feet away from the window.

While Dottie that survive medium light levels, it is not a low light plant. It still does need several hours of indirect light per day to grow. If your plant begins unfurling smaller leaves and the growth slows way down but conditions are otherwise optimal, you may need to give it more light.

calathea dottie plant

How often should I water it?

As I mentioned, calathea Dottie is not a plant you can really ignore for long periods of time. Dottie likes its soil to stay evenly moist, so you can water it once the top couple inches of soil dries out.

I have heard many people say that their calathea plants do not tolerate tap water well. Instead, they use filtered water. I use tap water for all of my plants (unless I’ve been able to collect some rain water!), but if you notice problems with your calathea, it may be the quality of your water.

Of course water is treated differently all around the country and world, so saying “no tap water” as a blanket statement isn’t necessarily true. Instead of using filtered water, you can also buy concentrated treatments to nuke your tap water—the kind you’d use for beta fish tank water, for example.

What soil should I plant it in?

A key piece of ensuring that your Calathea Dottie’s soil stays relatively moist but not wet is the soil. Use a light, well-aerated soil that retains moisture while also letting all of the excess water flow through the soil and out the pot’s drainage holes.

Choose any soil labeled “indoor” or “houseplant.” You can also add something like coco coir to the mixture, which is a great moisture retention alternative to peat moss. (Learn more about houseplant soil additives in my Houseplant soil 101 article!)

If the soil is too dense, the roots will sit in soil that stays wet for too long. This can lead to root rot, which often shows itself with yellowing, drooping foliage. If you take the plant out of the pot and inspect the roots, mushy, graying roots are a sure sign of root rot.

calathea dottie plant on a windowsill

Humidity & temperature needs

Humidity is where the calathea Dottie will get you. And it’s why I keep swearing off calathea plants…only to give in and get another once I see a new one and remember how pretty they are. Dottie likes her humidity, that’s for sure. Much like all other calatheas.

Higher than average household humidity is best. You can achieve this by putting your Calathea Dottie in a glass cabinet that retains moist air or add a humidifier. Misting the plant will only very temporarily increase moisture levels and probably won’t be enough for lil Dot. 

My calathea plants do the best when I put them outside in a shaded area for the spring and summer. That’s because it gets incredibly humid where I live (Maryland). This might not be the case for your climate, though. 

If your calathea Dottie has crispy brown tips or brown spots, it’s likely due to a lack of humidity, a lack of water, or a combination of the two. You might have it too close to a heat or air conditioning register, too, which can dry it out faster. 

As for temperatures—warmer is better. Calathea Dottie is not cold hardy and cannot be subject to frost. Most normal household temperatures are fine, but the best temperatures is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And HUMID! 🙂

crispy calathea rattlesnake leaf
Crispy Calathea Rattlesnake Leaf

Fertilizer needs & growth rate

Dottie is about an average grower. It isn’t a particularly prolific grower, but it also isn’t super slow. You can help encourage healthy new growth by giving it ideal care conditions: bright, indirect light, high humidity, and moderately moist soil.

Give your Calathea Dottie a boost with some fertilizer, too. In the past I have only used organic worm castings added to the soil as my fertilizer. This ensures I can’t fertilize too much and burn the plant.

This year I am starting to use Liqui-Dirt concentrated fertilizer to see how things go. I like it because it’s all natural and you just add it to the water. You can’t over-fertilize, either. It just adds nutrients to your soil. I use it every 2 or 3 times I water.

calathea dottie leaf with pink variegation

Propagation by division

Dottie is best propagated by division. There are actually two different plants in my pot. You can tell by looking closely at where the stems meet the soil line. If I wanted to, I could take the plant out of the soil and gently separate the two stem clusters from one another.

Then I could pot them up separately, and they’d live just fine! I don’t want to do that since this is quite a young plant, though. Maybe one day. 🙂

In conclusion…

Calathea Dottie is a stunning but mildly demanding houseplant, sometimes requiring precise care to maintain its vibrant appearance. From ensuring the right lighting and moisture levels to selecting the appropriate soil and humidity conditions, each aspect of its care is a different piece of the puzzle. 

But with the right environment and attention to detail, caring for this plant can be a rewarding experience. Have you tried these tips for your Dottie? Share your experiences and successes in the comments below, and happy planting!

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Here is a link to the Dropbox folder with the guide!

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Pin my Calathea Dottie care guide!

collage that says all about caring for calathea dottie with pictures of the plant

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