The Calathea Musaica or ‘Calathea Network’ as it’s sometimes known has some of the most incredible leaves with such an intricate pattern. This almost makes it more frustrating to find problems starting to damage your plant, especially if you don’t know what’s causing them.
In this post, we will be going through the 5 most common issues with Calathea Musaica plants, outlining each of the potential causes as well as how to best treat them and get your plant back to full health.
Causes of brown Calathea Musaica leaves:
Too little water.
If you have been consistently underwatering or forgetting to water your Calathea Musaica then this can lead to dry brown leaves. These are often light brown in colour and feel very crispy to touch. Before changing anything about how much or how often you water your Calathea Musaica, confirm the issue by checking the moisture in the potting mix as well as if the roots have become crispy and dry. This would suggest the issue has progressed quite far. Give your Calathea Musaica a little bit of water once a day for a week, rather than drowning it all in one go and make sure to remember to water your plant at regular intervals.
Low humidity can cause brown leaf tips.
Native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, Calathea Musaica plants love a humid environment and can struggle in dry air. If the problem persists for a while this can cause brown leaf tips and edges to occur. To prevent this problem from causing more brown leaves, we recommend misting your plant with a spray bottle every few days, sitting your Calathea Musaica in a pebble tray or using a humidifier to keep a nice stable humidity level.
It’s really important that you keep your Calathea Musaica away from cold drafts. Whether this is away from drafty windows and doors in winter, or away from air conditioning vents in summer, these cold airstreams can be really harmful to your Calathea Musaica and can cause brown leaves. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature around your plant.
Causes of yellow leaves on a Calathea Musaica:
This tends to be the most common reason why Calathea Musaica plants develop yellow leaves and we usually start here when trying to diagnose the issue. Measure the moisture in the soil (by either using a moisture meter or the chopstick method) and replace the potting mix with fresh mix if waterlogged. To prevent overwatering causing root rot and subsequent yellow foliage in future, make sure that the soil has dried out before watering and that you adapt your watering schedule throughout the year.
Direct sunlight can cause leaf burn.
If you haven’t been overwatering your Calathea Musaica, then the yellow leaves might be caused by issues with sunlight. During summer, if your Calathea Musaica is too close to the window and is receiving a lot of direct light, this can lead to the leaves burning and developing yellow patches. This is actually where the sun has burnt the leaves. Move your Calathea Musaica to a shadier spot in the room so that it doesn’t receive any direct light. This should prevent any more yellow patches from developing on your Calathea Musaica.
This is definitely a more worrying cause of yellow leaves and is one that is super important to catch early. When pests take hold of your plant, they suck on the leaves, exhausting them and turning them crispy and yellow. Other signs of pests are white webbing across the leaves, small holes in the leaves and most obviously, visible pests (use a magnifying to spot them). To treat the issue, spray your plant with neem oil daily for a week. You also want to isolate your plant and check over all of your other houseplants to see if any others are infected (pests can jump across leaves that are close together).
If your Calathea Musaica is only developing one or two yellow leaves a year, then it might just be natural ageing that is to blame. This is nothing to worry about at all but is just your plant prioritising its energy for new growth. This means it will get rid of its smallest and lowest leaves, which will often turn a solid yellow in colour before falling off the plant.
Why is my Calathea Musaicas losing leaves?
Extreme temperatures and drafts.
This is one of the most common reasons that Calathea Musaica lose leaves as they hate extreme temperatures. Move your Calathea Musaica away from any drafts coming through windows and ensure they are at least one meter away from any air conditioning or heating vents, radiators and cookers. It’s best to use a digital thermometer to check the temperature across the day and night in various spots in your home to ensure your Calathea Musaica is in the right place.
It’s not just cold temperatures that can shock your Calathea Musaica but any sudden change in its environment can cause it to freak out a bit and lose some leaves. For example, repotting, propagating, moving house or simply moving to a new spot in your home can all be causes of stress for plants and may result in a few leaves falling off. As long as the environment and care routine is right for your plant, this shock/stress should be temporary and they should only lose a few leaves.
As we outlined above, if your Calathea Musaica is only losing a few leaves each year but nothing in the environment is changing that would indicate stress, then this leaf drop might be natural. This is when your plant wants to focus its energy on growing new growth so will lose some of its smallest and oldest leaves. Ensure that your Calathea Musaica is growing more new leaves than it is losing them throughout the year and things should be fine.
Why is my Calathea Musaica drooping?
One of the earlier signs of underwatering is a drooping and limp Calathea Musaica. The best thing to do is check the soil moisture levels before increasing how much or how often your water your plant. The good thing is that usually the drooping is reversible and within a few hours or a day, your Calathea Musaica should stop drooping and perk up. Over time it’s important to keep an eye on how much you are watering your Calathea Musaica by checking the moisture in the soil frequently.
The tricky thing with a drooping Calathea Musaica though is that too much water can also cause the same issue. This is because the root system becomes damaged and the stems are too weak to keep the leaves up. Check the soil to see if it is soggy or holding onto too much excess water and replace the wet soil with fresh mix to allow your Calathea Musaica to recover.
Causes of curling leaves on a Calathea Musaica
It may be natural curling.
As part of the Calathea family, Calathea Musaicas naturally curl their leaves at night and unfold their leaves in the morning. It can be easy to mistake this curling for an issue but monitor how the leaves move and make sure that your plant begins to uncurl its leaves during the day. If the leaves are permanently curled and you don’t notice any movement throughout the day, then there is most likely another cause.
Not enough water.
One of the ways that plants are able to retain as much moisture is by curling their leaves, which is why this could indicate that your Calathea Musaica is being underwatered. Check the soil to make sure and begin to reintroduce water over the next few days. Curling leaves is a reversible problem so with the right methods, you should start to see them uncurl within a day or two.
Although they love warmth, intense hotspots caused by being too close to the window or by radiators/cookers can dry out your Calathea Musaica and cause it to curl up its leaves. Use a digital thermometer to check that your room sits within the ideal temperature bounds and if needed, adjust your plant’s positioning away from the window and you should start to see the leaves uncurl.
Dry air can cause leaves to curl.
Calathea plants thrive in humid environments and if the air is too dry, it can cause them to curl up and try to retain as much moisture as possible. This will often be the precursor to brown leaf edges so you want to fix it quickly. We recommend picking up a humidity monitor and getting into the habit of regularly misting your plant to make sure the curling leaves don’t develop into a more serious issue. You can also use methods such as pebble trays or showering your Calathea Musaica if you prefer.
Those are the most common issues you will experience with Calathea Musaica plants. We recommend getting into the habit of giving your plant a check over each time you water so that you can spot any early warning signs that something might be wrong. This gives you the best chance at fixing the issues and reviving your plant.
To learn more about how to keep your plant happy and healthy, take a look through our Calathea Musaica care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson