How to Revive a Dying Calathea

Last Updated on November 16, 2022 by admin

The reason for a dying calathea usually is due to the fact that the soil is dry in the area around the roots ball because of not being able to water regularly enough or watering too much, that causes the leaves to fall and then turn brown and crisp with a dying look.

Low humidity sucks moisture out of the leaves of the calathea and causes the edges to become crispy and brown, causing the leaves to die back.

In order to revive the calathea plant, it is essential to recreate the conditions for growth in their rainforest tropical habitat, which has high humidity and always moist and well-drained soil. Also, place calatheas in bright, indirect light with warmer temperatures, away from the full sun.

Read on to find out the reason that causes your the calathea to relapse and the best way to bring it back to life…

Calathea Leaves Drooping or Turning Brown and Crispy

  • Symptoms. The tips of leaves turn brown and crisp, drooping, or curving and wilting. Whole leaves may turn brown and appear to be dying.
  • Causes. Low humidity caused by draughts, air conditioning or heat Not watering enough often or watering light, or too much sun.

Calathea (also calledprayer plant) is a native to the South American rainforest which thrives in humid and hot conditions. The soil stays always moist because of regular rainfall.

The houses are usually characterized by low humidity even in the most humid of times, but for Calathea, which is adapting to greater humidity, it can result in signs of stress quite quickly, with brown tips appearing on the leaves. This can be caused by the effects of air flow generated by air conditioning during Summer and heat sources in winter.

The clay soil that is used to potting the calathea needs to remain damp (but not completely saturated) to mimic the conditions of a moist soil in the native habitat.

When the soil gets dry out between watering sessions, the calathea usually droops and becomes brown near the edges of the leaves, with extreme drought stress that causes the leaves to brown completely as well as the plants to stop growing back.

The most common error is watering the Calathea overly light, which will only dampen the upper inch or so of the soil.

This means that water can not penetrate the soil in a proper manner and the roots in on the lower part of the container are unable to get the water they need which causes the plant to die and then grow back.

Calathea can also be found under a canopy , and do best in light that is filtered or indirect, bright light, rather than full sunlight.

Direct sunlight cause the leaves of the calathea to fade, burn and cause a drying effect that results in the leaves turning brown and then die back.

How to revive a dying Calathea with drooping, brown Cripsy Leaves

  • Give your calathea an ample amount of water, so that the excess water drips off the bottom of your pot. This will ensure that the water is able to penetrate the soil to ensure that it remains humid throughout, and that the roots are able to access the water they require to maintain the plants health and avoid drooping leaves.
  • You should water your calathea as frequently as you need to ensure that the soil is damp (but importantly, it is not overly saturated). The frequency at which you need to maintain your calatheas watering schedule to ensure its health is contingent depending on your climate and conditions at home. It is best to give it a good soak, and then check the soils moisture throughout the week. Water when the soil is dry.
  • Make sure that the calathea is out of the way of the draughts that come from forced air, air conditioning or other air currents because this is not in line with the calatheas preference for humid climate. Air currents eat away moisture from the leaves, causing them to become dry and crispy. Find an ideal, quiet location for your calathea to be in indirect, bright sunlight.
  • To combat the drying effects of air flow and recreate the humidity of the rainforest, I suggest misting the leaves on your calythea with an occasional mist every three days or at least once every 3 days. The dryer the climate or home the more often you need to mist your leaves. You can also use a humidifier or put your pot in a tray that is filled with water and pebbles, to keep the pot away from the water that is still. The water within the tray evaporates, creating an evaporative micro-climate that is suitable for the Calathea.
  • Find your calathea in an area with direct light that is bright as any sunlight at this time could aggravate conditions that cause drought and the conditions which led to the drooping crisp, brown leaves. A direct, bright light can help the calathea to keep its varied colors (if its one that is variegated) and also prevents the leaves from burning.

After you have changed the conditions and methods of caring for the calathea plant to ensure that they resemble the conditions of its natural environment, your calathea will begin to recuperate.

The speed at which the leaves of calathea recover will depend on the intensity of the drought, but generally, there will be indications of improvement over the course of the coming weeks.

If the leaves have turned completely brown, trim them back to their stems because they are not likely to recover. This will encourage the development in new leaf growth.

Calathea Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown and a Dying Appearance

  • Symptoms. The leaves can change color from yellow to brown near the edges or the entire leaf may change color, turning yellow or brown with an appearance of wilting and the plant may be able to die in a reversal.
  • Causes. The excessive watering of calathea and pots that do not have proper drainage saucers, trays, and decorative pots stop water from escaping the bottom and sides of pots. A high concentration of fertilizer may cause leaves to become yellow and look droopy.

A many of the signs of excessive watering appear like under watering, with yellow or brown leaves, and a droopy appearance.

While calathea can be described as a forest plant, the species will not like roots in soil that is saturated because this blocks oxygen from the soil, which is required for the roots respiration which hinders the roots capacity to absorb nutrients and water.

This could make the calathea appear like a plant that is not getting enough water and more water could be causing more problems. If the calathea has been sitting in water that is stagnant for too long, it can create the conditions that cause root rot, which could cause the plant to die.

A lot of water around the roots is usually due to pots that do not have proper drainage holes at the base, or due to the use of saucers, trays , and decorative pots to keep the excess water from leaking into the house.

The factors mentioned above stop water from flowing out of the pot, and the roots remain in the soil that is boggy.

There are a variety of signs that may manifest dependent on the length of time roots have been in excessively wet soil, however the most effective way to differentiate between healthy plants either under water or over-watered is to feel your soil with the drainage hole at the bottom.

If your soil is feeling dry, then it is probably the cause. If your soil is damp, it is likely that over-watering is the reason for your death Calathea. Be aware that low humidity may result in these symptoms.

Applying fertilizer too frequently or in excessive amounts could cause the leaves to turn to yellow.

How to revive an over watered Calathea with Brown or Yellow Leaves

  • Reduce the amount of water you are putting in. If the soil is overly saturated, then reduce the watering as soon as you notice. Calatheas prefer well-draining but moist soil, so allow the soil to drain while it is under stress due to excessive watering surrounding the root.
  • The soil for potting should hold moisture , but be also well draining. The best way to grow calathea is planting it into regular organic potting soil, and then include perlite to aid in drainage as well as to expand the size of the pores in the soil . This will increase oxygen levels, so that the roots dont get suffocated. About 3 parts of pot soil for 1 part perlite is a great ratio.
  • Replant the calathea into an area with drainage holes as a matter urgentness. If it has drainage holes, ensure that its not blocked by soil that has been compacted or roots grit, or anything else that could hinder efficient drainage.
  • The use of trays, saucers and decorative pots are beneficial in preventing water from spilling into the home after watering the calathea, but they must be cleaned regularly when they begin to fill with water since this keeps the excess water from draining away and makes the soil muddy, causing leaves to change color from brown or yellow and then die again.
  • Leaves may turn brown and thin due to excessive fertilizer. Calatheas arent particularly heavy feeders, but they can benefit from a normal houseplant fertilizer that is half strength every month during the spring and summer when they are growing. Reduce the amount of fertilizer if your plant appears unhealthy, and then water with distillate water to remove the excess salt build-up If you have been feeding more than what is recommended.

After the calathea is relocated to a better pot with a drainage-friendly soil and pots that have efficient drainage, the calathea will recover, though the process is typically slow.

Watch for evidence of growth and new leaves. The leaves that have become yellow or brown are likely to recover , and you could trim them at the base once new growth begins to emerge.

If calathea was sitting in soil that is damp for a long time, its likely developed root rot , which will more likely cause death to the plant, which emphasizes the importance of proper drainage.

Revive Calthea Leaves Curling due to Cold Temperatures

Calathea is a tropical plant that are found in the rainforest of Brazil and have consistently warm temperatures.

The adaptations of calathea to a constant warm climate which means they could be extremely sensitive to cold temperatures that can cause leaves to curl, or a general decline in the vitality of the plant, resulting in brown leaves and drooping leaves, or a faded appearance.

It is crucial to recognize that calathea tend to curl upwards at night (hence their name, which is a common plant) because it is a way of maximising the leafs exposure to sunlight throughout the day. It is normal and does not suffer any adverse effects caused by adverse weather circumstances.

The ideal temperature range for a plant with calathea is 65-75 degrees F (18degCbetween 23 and 25degC) and leaves of calathea can exhibit signs of stress when exposed to temperatures lower than 60 degrees F (15degC).

The temperature is fairly constant in their natural habitat, so the calathea may exhibit signs of stress because of temperature fluctuations within the house.

Because of their sensitivity to cold temperatures, calathea stay away from air flow from the air conditioner, draughts, forced air, and other heating sources.

Be aware that if your calathea sits placed on a window sill, the leaves could come into contact with the window , which is significantly cooler than the rest of your home and can cause damage to the leaves of the Calathea.

Place your calathea in an environment with a higher temperature stability in indirect, bright light . The plant will begin to show signs of recovery in several days.

Revive Calathea by using Scorched Leaves

Since calathea is adapted to living in the shade of a rainforest , it can not take direct sunlight very well, which leads to the appearance of scorched.

Leaves may fade or change to a fiery brown or yellow when they are exposed to intense, direct sunlight.

The leaves of Calathea generally appear best when they are situated in direct sunlight that is bright because this will ensure that the plant gets sufficient light to show their fascinating pattern of variegated colors, but also prevents negative effects.

After the leaves are burned by the sun, they will not appear to be able to recover, but the damage that remains to the leaf will not necessarily mean that the plant is dead.

Cut back any sun-burnt leaves to bring them back to the base of the plant to clean the appearance. If however, a large number of leaves have sunburned badly, then move the plant to an area that has indirect light then wait until new leaves appear before trimming back a substantial amount of leaves.

The calathea could take time to recover, but with perseverance, the appearance of the plant will improve in the summer and spring months , and the plant could come back.

Key Takeaways:

  • Calathea leaves may droop and the leaf edges becoming brown and crisp with the appearance of dying due to the lack of water and humidity. Calathea is a plant from the tropical zone that needs humid soil and high humidity. If the soil is drying out or the air becomes too dry, the leaves of calathea wilt and then die.
  • Calathea may also die when their roots are placed in soil that is muddy, as this blocks oxygen from the roots, preventing respiration, which can cause the plant to die.
  • A lot of sun and cold temperatures can also be in opposition to the ideal conditions for the calathea, and can cause plants to die and then re-emerge.
  • To revive a dying calathea make sure the soil is moist but well-drained. Place it in bright, indirect light , and maintain temperatures between 65-75 degrees F (18degC23-23degC). Beware of air currents from draughts or air conditioning that can cause drying of the leaves. Also, mist the leaves frequently.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)