Calathea Network care is surprisingly easy considering it is a calathea, one of the most dramatic houseplants out there! Learn all about the Calathea musaica, including how to grow it big and bushy!
How do you care for a Calathea Network?
The Calathea musaica, also known as the Calathea Network, is a newer tropical houseplant on the U.S. market. It has remarkably patterned leaves that grow large and light green with cream-colored linear patterns, almost like a code.
Calathea Network is slow growing and doesn’t flower as a houseplant, but in nature they produce cute white flowers. They are somewhat difficult to care for and require just the right environment to thrive—which probably sounds familiar with a Calathea.
I do think these are a bit easier than some other drama-queen Calatheas, though. The great thing about these plants is they will immediately tell you when they need something, all you have to do is listen. Read about Calathea plants in general for more on the genus!
Is network Calathea rare?
Calathea Network has gotten more popular in the last year because it was a Costa Farms 2021 Trending Tropical plant, meaning they mass-produced it and sold it in all of the stores they supply. That means Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, and about a billion more.
So I wouldn’t necessarily call it rare. Though I have only seen it once in a shop near where I live. You can buy them online for reasonable prices, though. I purchased mine for my mom’s birthday through the Costa Farms online shop, and it came in lovely condition.
More on the difference between Calathea musaica and Calathea Network below, though. Finding a true Calathea musaica is much harder than finding the mass-produced, slightly different version that Costa Farms calls the Calathea Network.
What is the Calathea Network?
It’s official name is the Goeppertia kegeljanii, though this plant has gone by many names. When it was first identified in the rainforests of Brazil in 1875, it was called the Maranta bella. Since then, it’s gone by Calathea bella, Goeppertia bella, Maranta tessellata, the Network Prayer Plant, and many others.
You might be wondering where it got the name Prayer Plant, and it’s actually pretty interesting. At night the plant’s leaves fold and look like a person’s hands while praying. (Learn about Maranta prayer plants for more on this!)
It was later named “Calathea musaica” for the mosaic-like patterned leaves. But you’ll still see it referred to as Goeppertia kegeljanii in some shops and nurseries. It was patented by its breeder in 2009, but Costa Farms was given exclusive rights in North America to propagate and sell it.
The Costa Farms version of the plant you’re likely to get your hands on in shops around North America is called a Calathea Network. That is the Costa Farms name for it. It differs from Calathea musaica a bit, though.
When Costa Farms was given the rights to propagate the plant, they derived a more compact and bushier version that has a more striking grid-like variegation. So, since this is the version I have, we’ll stick with the name Calathea Network 🙂
How much light does a Calathea Network need?
As with most plants, the prettier the leaves, the more sensitive they are to the sun. The Calathea Network should never be in direct light. In its natural habitat, it gets only shaded and dappled sunlight which is vital to maintaining its intricate patterns.
It should not sit in a sunny south or west-facing window because midday sun is too intense; the leaves will turn yellow and lose their pattern with too much light. Too little light, however, will turn the leaves darker green and may also cause it to lose their variegation.
Network has surprisingly flexible lighting requirements in my personal experience, though. My mom has had hers quite far away from a window in her kitchen, and it has done really well! So experiment with your lighting levels to see what works best.
Soil & water
Well-draining soil is important for your Calathea Network because they need a lot of water. A generic potting mix will suffice, but consider adding a few parts coco coir, fine moss, or perlite to improve organic matter composition and drainage respectively.
It’s important that your plant gets plenty of nutrients without sitting in water, risking root rot. So it’s a bit of a delicate balance. The heavier the soil, the more likely it is to retain too much water and choke out the roots.
As you might imagine, the rainforests of Brazil are very wet! I usually write about plants that I let almost dry out before watering again. That’s not the case with this plant, though!
The Calathea Network needs consistently moist soil without it being overly wet—tricky, I know. Deeply water your plant when the top inch of soil has dried out. You should be watering about once every 5-8 days, but less frequently in the winter months.
If the leaves start to curl, you are underwatering. You might want to use distilled water, especially if you’re in a place that has hard water. The chemicals over time could stain or brown your lovely leaves. (This is the dramatic Calathea showing its true colors.)
If the leaves are wilting and yellowing, it might be overwatering. However, don’t freak out if some of the older leaves yellow and die off with time. This is the normal cycle of life for plants 🙂
Temperature & humidity needs
Average room temperature will work for the Calathea Network since their ideal range is 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them away from sunny, hot windows as it can scorch the leaves.
Similarly, it shouldn’t be near cold, drafty windows; it has no frost tolerance so it won’t survive below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have it outdoors for the spring and summer, make sure to transition it inside before it gets too cold.
And here’s the killer for this plant: Humidity is essential for Calatheas, and that includes Calathea Networks. They require above 50% at all times to keep the plant in its tip-top form. If the leaves are turning crispy and brittle, you need to up the humidity.
Misting your plant is one way of increasing humidity, but this provides only a very temporary increase in moisture. You can use a pebble tray with water or a humidifier. Grouping the plant with other plants will help to keep ambient humidity levels high, though.
Here is the thing about Calathea Network, though: Its leaves are a bit beefier than some of its other Calathea relatives. So it does have a slightly higher tolerance to dry air. That’s why I say that this Calathea is slightly less dramatic than others.
My mom doesn’t do anything special for hers, and it’s doing just fine! We live in an area that is pretty humid in the spring and summer, so that helps a lot. It has stood up very well to the dry indoor air so far this winter, too.
How do Calathea Networks propagate?
You can’t propagate a Calathea Network using a leaf or stem cutting. Instead you’ll have to propagate by dividing your parent plant. The plant division method involves carefully removing the plant from its pot and separating the roots.
As you separate the roots, you’ll notice different root segments. It’s actually more than one plant in the pot (usually). Once you separate the roots and root segments, plant those in another pot with fresh soil.
The fresh soil should be moist, have high organic matter, and be kept in a warm place. This should only be done during the growth season and when the plant is healthy—so in the spring or summer.