Best Soil For Calathea: How To Choose The Exact And Proper

Calathea is a tropical plant that requires specific nutrients for adequate growth. So preparing the best soil for Calathea is essential. You may think that all soils are created equal, but there’s actually a big difference between soils for different types of plants.

To ensure your Calathea thrives in its new home, we’ll explore the best soil choices available and go into detail on why each option works perfectly for this unique type of houseplant. Every plant species has special growth needs, and knowing what kind of soil mixture to use is important. If you’re planning on caring for a Calathea, then read on!

The best soil for Calathea

Find the perfect match for your Calathea! Explore our 3 most popular soil mixes and unlock their lush potential.

#1. FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants

It contains a premium blend of ingredients including aged forest products and sphagnum peat moss which provide nutrients to support robust plant growth. Calatheas need nutrient-rich soil to thrive.

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants

#2. Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt.

The soil is designed to have a balanced pH that is ideal for optimal plant health. The pH is likely in the slightly acidic range that Calatheas prefer (6.0-6.5).

Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt

#3. FoxFarm FX14054 12-Quart Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil

It has a light, airy texture which allows for proper aeration and prevents compaction. This facilitates good drainage and air circulation that is important to prevent root rot in Calatheas.

FoxFarm FX14054 12-Quart Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil

The best soil for Calathea includes: 


Good drainage is like the bread and butter for Calathea plants, as it helps them steer clear from getting too wet and the roots going bad. Drainage can be improved in soil by throwing in natural nutrients like compost or peat moss. Perlite, vermiculite, pumice stones, or barks are other bits and bobs you can use to make the soil drain better, especially if you’ve got soil with a poor structure.

It’s key to make sure your soil’s got plenty of air gaps so the roots can breathe and not get super wet. A potting mix with at least a third of natural nutrients is just what you need for draining and feeding enough. And don’t forget the drainage holes in the pot – they let extra water get out.

When it comes to watering your Calathea, you have got to be careful. Don’t give ’em too much water, cause this can make the roots rot fast.

Water retention

The best soil for Calathea should have a mix of natural material like peat moss, bark, or compost, plus loam and coarse sand. This kind of soil won’t clump up when you water it and will hold onto moisture without turning into a soggy mess.

Want to check for water-holding? Grab a handful of soil and make it into a ball – the tighter the ball, the better your soil’s at holding water. Throwing in compost will also help to improve the moisture-retention qualities in your Calathea’s soil.

Watering a lot and deep is key in keeping your Calathea happy and healthy, and good water retention will mean you don’t have to water so often.

Proper Nutrients

The best soil for Calathea needs to hold moisture, drain well, and provide adequate nutrients for the plant. Nutrients that are important for Calathea include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium as well as trace elements like iron and zinc.

A good commercial potting soil blended with one part aged compost or leaf mold can provide these nutrients. Peat moss can also be added to the mix if needed.

Fertilizing with an all-purpose fertilizer once every month during the growing season is recommended. Nutrients should be applied according to package instructions. Too much fertilizer can damage roots and leaves, so it is best to err on the side of caution when fertilizing Calathea plants.

Proper aeration

Proper aeration is also necessary for your Calathea’s well-being. Loamy soil’s the best ’cause it drains better than clay soil. Throwing in natural nutrients like compost or peat moss helps with air gaps and water-holding in sandy soil.

Good aeration can be done by mixing in some gravel, perlite, or pumice. The aeration also makes a difference to root growth and air swap between the soil and the roots. When the soil’s got good aeration, water can get in easily but also get out quick, stopping root rot.

Aerating your soil helps roots grow good by giving enough air to the plant’s roots. It also makes it easier for nutrients to be absorbed, helping your Calathea do great.

When your soil’s got good aeration, it can keep the right water level and give your Calathea the best place.

PH level

Calathea plants do great in soil that’s acidic and has a PH between 6.0 and 6.5. The pH scale checks how acidic or alkaline something is, from 0 to 14, with 7 being in the middle. If your soil’s acidic, it helps to make sure your Calathea gets enough food for healthy growth and keeps its bright leaves.

Also, you have got to make sure your soil drains well and doesn’t get too wet or soggy. Throwing in natural nutrients like peat moss, mulch, or compost can help change the PH level of your soil and boost its nutrient content.

Besides, you should avoid using too much food on Calatheas, as too much fertilizer can cause leaf burn or discoloration.

Importance of Soil in Calathea Growth and Health

The right soil is important for growing healthy Calathea plants. As tropical understory plants, Calatheas require a lightweight, airy soil that retains some moisture but also drains well to prevent root rot. An ideal potting mix contains peat moss or coco coir to help hold moisture and nutrients. Good aeration is also key, so mixing in perlite or vermiculite creates air pockets for better drainage and soil oxygenation.

Quality potting soil supplies Calathea roots with essential macro and micronutrients through organic matter and fertilizer. This fuels processes like photosynthesis and nutrient absorption. Without proper soil nutrition, Calatheas show deficiencies through yellowing leaves, stunted growth and susceptibility to pests and diseases.

The soil should have a slightly acidic pH between 6.0-6.5, which Calatheas prefer. Acidity helps certain nutrients become plant-available. Testing and amending pH is super important for optimal Calathea health.

By replicating the loose, humid, peat-based soils Calatheas adapted to in Brazilian rainforests, the right potting mix is fundamental for growth. It anchors the plant while facilitating moisture retention, drainage, and nutrient delivery. Addressing soil requirements provides the foundation for lush, vibrant Calatheas free of most cultural challenges.

Importance of soil in Calathea growth and health

Signs You are Using the Wrong Soil Mix

Here are some tell-tale signs you are using the wrong soil mix for your Calathea:

Browning leaves

Browning leaves can be a sign of a lack of nutrients or water, or it may indicate that the soil type isn’t suitable for Calathea. If this happens, look at what kind of soil mix you are using and adjust accordingly.

Browning leaves on Calathea may also indicate an overly acidic or alkaline soil pH, so it’s important to pay attention to your soil pH levels as well. If the browning persists despite changing the soil mix, then consider contacting a horticulturist for further help.

Additionally, be sure to check the drainage of your soil mix before planting, as overly soggy soil can lead to root rot and other problems. With the right kind of soil mix and attention to drainage, you can ensure that your plants are healthy and thriving.

Your Calathea will absorb water from the soil at different rates throughout the year because the soil is always moist. Therefore, you should always water your plants less regularly in the winter. The liquid from a pot should take your Calathea an average of one week to absorb completely.

Foul odor coming from the soil

If you notice a foul odor coming from the soil, it is likely that something is not right. This could be an indication that you are using the wrong soil mix for your Calathea plant.

The proper soil mix should have good drainage and aeration to allow air and water to go through the growth substances so the roots can breathe and access the nutrients they need. If the soil mix is too dense, it won’t allow air and water to pass through adequately and could result in a foul odor coming from the soil.

Bad odors coming from the soil can also be an indication that root rot has set in, so it is best to check your plant and its soil if you notice a foul smell. Foul odors coming from the soil can be a sign that you are using the wrong soil mix for Calathea plants and should be addressed quickly to avoid further damage.

If you suspect that the soil mix is to blame for the bad odor, it’s best to switch it with one made just for Calatheas. Foul odors coming from the soil are an indication that your plant may not have the right environment or support it needs to thrive.

Slow growth

Slow growth might be an indication that your Calathea is not getting enough of the right kind of nutrients from its soil. Depending on the type and growth conditions, your Calathea should typically grow 5 cm per month in the summer and grow less quickly in the winter. So if you see that it has stopped growing or has really slowed down, this could indicate that there is a problem with your soil.

A soil mix specially made for Calatheas will provide the right pH level and the perfect moisture balance and nutrition to keep your plant healthy and growing at its full potential.

Be sure to check if your soil mix works for Calatheas before planting, as using the wrong type could be bad for your plant’s health. Take steps to make sure you’re providing the best care for your Calathea by choosing the right soil mix.

Dropping leaves

Calatheas prefer soil with lots of organic matter, good drainage, and plenty of moisture. If your soil mix can’t give these conditions, Calatheas may become stressed due to lack of air, water, or nutrients, and start to lose their leaves.

Calatheas also do not like having their roots bothered, so if you are constantly repotting your Calathea and the soil mix is not suitable for them, they may become stressed as well. If this is the case, consider switching to a soil mix that is specifically designed for Calatheas.

Pest and fungi

If you are noticing fungi or pests on your plants, this could be a sign that you have chosen an incorrect soil mix. Soil that is too moist can promote the growth of fungi and the development of pests, so make sure you are using a mix that has good drainage and airing.

Leaves discolored or wilted

Another sign that your Calathea may be struggling from an unsuitable soil mix is if its leaves begin to look discolored or wilted. Calatheas need the right balance of nutrients and moisture to stay healthy and vibrant, so if it does not have these conditions, you will notice a change in the appearance of its leaves.

The distinctive leaves of your calathea will lose their color and turn pale, yellow, or brown in the absence of enough components that maintain the balance between retention and drainage.

Leaves discolored or wilted

Characteristics of Calathea plant: Soil requirements

The Calathea plant has specific soil requirements in order to thrive. Soil should be light, full of nutrients and drains well, with a neutral pH level between 6.0 and 6.5.

Soil should be kept consistently moist but not overly wet, as this can make the roots rot. It is also important to ensure that Calathea is not planted in soil with a too much fertilizer, as too much nitrogen can cause it to get leaf spots.

Fertilizing Calathea is also important and should be done approximately once a month during the growing season.

Soil should never be allowed to totally dry out as this will damage the roots, so regular watering is essential.

To ensure enough drainage, it is also recommended to use a pot with holes in the bottom.

soil requirements calathea

Advantages of using this best soil for Calathea

One of the big pluses of planting Calathea in soil made for this plant is that it keeps a balanced level of moisture. Peat moss and perlite are two ingredients in the Calathea soil that stop the soil from getting too wet.

Also, the special mix of nutrients in Calathea soil helps the plant grow and meets its particular needs. The soil will give your Calathea a safe place to grow when you give it regular water and enough sun.

Plus, as it keeps bugs and sickness away, using this soil will help in keeping the natural beauty of your Calathea. Growing a strong houseplant starts with using soil made specifically for Calathea.

All in all, using Calathea-specific soil has lots of pluses that make it a top pick for this type of plant. It keeps the perfect water level, feeds your Calathea the best, and helps protect it from bugs and sickness. Also, because of what it’s made of, awesome root growth can happen.

Related: Calathea Watering : The Complete And Best Guide

Preparing Best Soil For Calathea

There are steps to prepare the best soil for Calathea:

Mixing different types of soil

When it comes to getting the best soil for Calathea, the most important steps is mixing up Soil. This means mixing a few soil components into a single mix.

Normally, a well-draining potting mix should be combined with peat moss and perlite to create a light soil that will give the perfect balance of aeration and moisture retention. A few other bits, like pine bark, compost, or other types of organic matter can also be added to create more nutrient-rich soil.

Make sure everything is mixed together good and proper before planting your Calathea in the pot. This will ensure that the roots have access to all the nutrients they need to grow and flourish. Always make sure the soil is moist before planting, as this will help the plant establish itself in its new home.

Benefits of the various Calathea soil ingredients include:

  • Peat moss: This material is great because it keeps moisture in the soil, something you find a lot in Calathea soil. This is super important for Calathea plants, which don’t like sitting in damp soil but do need constant moisture. Peat moss also makes the drainage better, which is super important for these plants.
  • Perlite: It’s all about drainage with perlite. This light, holey material helps keep the soil loose and airy. That’s something Calathea plants need because their roots have got to breathe.
  • Pumice: Even though pumice comes from volcano rock, it’s a lot like perlite. The good material about pumice are like perlite’s, but it’s a little heavier, which might help keep the soil in place.
  • Coco coir: Made from coconut husks, coco coir’s got many of the same good points as peat moss, like better drainage and holding onto moisture. Calathea plants benefit from the nutrients found in coco coir.
  • Vermiculite: This mineral’s often chucked into Calathea soil to make aeration and drainage better. For Calathea plants, vermiculite is a great source of trace minerals.
  • Fertilizer: Even though fertilizer isn’t a part of the soil for calathea plants, it’s super important to fertilize them often. A balanced fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium is needed for calathea plants. Liquid fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer can be used to fertilize Calathea plants.

Make your own Calathea soil mix by:

  • 25% orchid bark, pine fines, or a mixture of orchid bark
  • 25% coconut coir
  • 25% Perlite
  • 10% worm casing
  • 5% charcoal activated

Pour warm water over the coir and perlite first. To stop the mix from going all dusty or flying away, put on gloves and stir it carefully. Add the additional ingredients and blend after it’s all been mixed well.

If you often overwater your plants, you should use more water-holding materials.

I’d strongly recommend getting some pre-made potting soil and chucking in some perlite or vermiculite to it if you’re short on all these different elements or don’t have the time to make them.

The suggested mixture is 70% potting soil and 30% perlite.

potting mix for calathea

Adding organic matter

When prepping the soil for Calathea plants, tossing in some compost is super important. Adding some form of compost like compost, dead leaves or peat moss helps make the soil structure better, making it more friable and able to hold moisture better.

Adding this type of compost also helps provide nutrients for the plant. Adding a balanced fertilizer once every few weeks is also beneficial to provide additional nutrients.

Adding compost to the soil creates a better environment for Calathea plants to thrive in and ensures they get the nutrition they need.

Once you’ve tossed in the compost, make sure it’s well mixed into the soil before planting your Calathea. Adding too much of any one type of compost can lead to drainage problems, so be sure to mix the soil properly. Adding a few inches of mulch on top of the soil is also beneficial as it helps keep moisture and further promotes healthy plant growth.

Adjusting soil pH

Soil pH is an important factor when it comes to growing Calathea, as the plant prefers slightly sour soil.

Tweaking the soil pH can be done with the help of different add-ins like sulfur or lime. Depending on the current pH level of your soil, you might need to add one or both add-ins to make the soil more sour.

To make sure your Calathea has the right pH levels, test your soil regularly with a pH meter or strips and adjust accordingly. This will help you create the best growing environment for your plant and make sure it grows and thrives!

Tips choose the best soil for Calathea

There are tips you should remember when picking the best soil for Calathea.

  • Choose rich in organic matter and has good drainage.
  • The potting mixture should also have a pH level that’s a bit sour, anywhere from 6.5 to 7.
    Pick soil that holds water without being waterlogged.
  • The perfect balance of drainage and moisture retention can be achieved with a potting mix, compost, and perlite mix.
  • Mulch should be added as a layer on top of the soil to help keep moisture and stop weed growth.

By keeping these suggestions in mind, you can be sure that your Calathea is getting the best soil for its needs.

Recommend the best soil for Calathea

Some suggestions for brands that would be good for Calathea plants:

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil: This soil’s a good choice for Calathea plants because it drains well and has a bunch of nutrients good for Calathea plants.

ProMix BX Peat-Free Potting Mix: This soil’s another good pick for Calathea plants because it drains well and has a bunch of nutrients. This soil doesn’t have peat, which is a plus if you’re all about being green.

Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix: This cheaper option is still good for Calathea plants. But, it’s worth noting that this soil doesn’t drain as well as the other two options above.

Best Soil For Calathea FAQs

Q: What pH range is best for Calathea?

A: Calatheas like soil with a bit sour pH, from 6.0 to 6.5. The moss in the soil mix will help keep the soil pH down and provide enough dampness.

Q: How often should I water my Calathea?

A: The key to watering your Calathea is to keep the soil smoothly damp but not squishy. Depending on the size of your pot and how much light it gets, you may need to water your plant every 2-3 days or less, making sure to check the soil first to see if it is dry.

Q: Does Calathea prefer dry or moist soil?

A: They are in the middle of the requirements since they prefer steady dampness and enough draining.

Q: What should you keep in mind about soil when repotting Calatheas?

A: It’s crucial to have good draining, but the roots also can’t dry up too rapidly. When repotting Calatheas, mix elements that shed water and hold water equally.

Q: Are there any fertilizers I should use for Calathea?

A: It’s a good idea to add a sour fertilizer to your Calathea’s soil mix when you first plant it. This can help provide key nutrients and make sure your plant flourishes in its new environment. Make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer label for the top outcomes.


Choosing the best soil for Calathea is a big chunk of keeping it alive and well. Now that you know about the various options you can make, you can pick one that fits your Calathea’s needs. These tips will help you to choose the best soil for your plant.

TTake these tips into account when selecting a soil mixture for your Calathea and you will be sure to have a booming garden in no time! Famiplants encourages everyone to give their plant a chance by picking up a top-notch soil mix today!

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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