If you’d love to take your beautiful Calathea Musaica and want to create more plants for yourself or to share with friends and family, you might be wondering how to propagate it.
Recently classified as Goeppertia kegeljanii, Calathea Musaica (also known as Calathea Network) are known for their particular care requirements, but can you propagate them the same way you would a Monstera or a Sansevieria plant?
To propagate your Calathea Musaica, you must split an off-shoot from the root ball and separate it from the mother plant.
Unlike many common houseplants that can propagate using leaf or stem cuttings, Calatheas do not develop nodes directly on the stem. Instead, Calathea Musaicas produce off-shoots or pups from the root ball, which can be split or separated and repotted to grow more Calatheas.
How Do I Propagate My Calathea?
You can only propagate Calatheas by division. Unlike Philodendrons or Hoyas that develop nodes along the stem, you cannot propagate your Calathea with stem or leaf cuttings. Propagating by division means that you will have to wait until your Calathea Musaica grows new shoots from the soil, and then you will divide those shoots into new plants.
Is Calathea Easy to Propagate?
Calathea propagation can be very easy if you keep a few things in mind. Unlike propagation by cutting, when you divide your Calathea, some roots will already have formed, so propagation success is much more likely than rooting cuttings in water or soil.
The biggest challenge when propagating Calatheas, is carefully separating the roots without disrupting them and shocking the plant. Calatheas are exceptionally delicate and can suffer from transplant shock or division shock if they are not handled with care. However, as long as you are careful when propagating and transplanting your Calathea Musaica, you are unlikely to have too many problems.
Calathea Musaica Propagation
Step #1: Is Propagation Possible?
Calathea plants will grow new leaves from the middle of the plant, pushing their older growth outward. The individual leaves start beneath the soil but are still part of the mother plant.
If your Calathea has developed a new off-shoot separate from the mother plant, you will notice that it is also growing new leaves from the middle of the new plant. Sometimes these plants are called “pups” because they may be smaller in size initially, but that isn’t always the case.
When you inspect the base of your Calathea, if you notice that there is more than one plant in the pot, you are safe to propagate by division.
Step #2: Materials
Once your Calathea is ready to be propagated, you will need the following materials:
- Sterile pruning shears, a knife, or pair of scissors
- A pot with drainage for your new Calathea Musaica plant
- High-quality potting soil
- Distilled water
Step #3: Get Your Calathea Musaica Ready
You will want to remove your Calathea Musaica from its original pot and gently remove the soil from the roots. It can be easier if you choose to propagate when the soil is a bit drier. Gently loosen the roots as much as you can so they are not tightly packed. At this stage, you may find that the off-shoot will gently come apart from the mother plant, and you can skip to the next step.
Step #4: Division
If your Calathea is still attached to the mother plant, after removing the soil and loosening the roots, you will need to split your Calathea.
To split your Calathea Musaica, take your pruning shears or scissors and cut the new Calathea Musaica free from the mother plant. Try to cut as few roots as possible and separate them as gently as possible.
Step #5: Re-pot
Once you have separated your Calathea Musaica from the mother plant, you can plant it in a new pot with fresh soil and repot the mother plant as well. When you re-pot your Calathea, take care not to bury the stem deep in the soil, only the roots, to avoid stem rot. At this point, you can water your new Calathea.
What Kind of Soil Does Calathea Need?
Calatheas prefer consistently moist soil, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to root rot and overwatering like other plants. Therefore, you will want to have a mixture of potting soil for moisture retention and then add some orchid bark, perlite, and other types of drainage substrate.
The precise ratio will depend on how much light you are giving your Calathea Musaica, the kind of pot, and your watering habits, but ideally, you will want 60-70% moisture retention and 30-40% drainage.
Can I Propagate Calathea in Water?
If you remove your new Calathea Musaica from the mother plant and notice that the roots are not very strong or have yet to develop, you can place the propagation in water to strengthen the roots if you desire. Once there are enough roots, you can pot your new Calathea into the soil.
Calatheas cannot be propagated simply by cutting a stem or a leaf and placing them in water. You can only place new propagations in water if they have been effectively divided by following the previous steps.
After Propagation Care
Once you have successfully repotted your Calathea, make sure to give it warm temperatures, medium light, and high humidity levels. This applies both to the new propagation and the mother plant.
Calatheas are very sensitive plants easily susceptible to transplant shock, so you may notice some signs of drooping or unhappiness following propagation. Still, with time and patience, it will bounce back and start to produce new healthy growth.
Calathea Network Plant Care
To grow a happy and healthy Calathea Musaica, you must give them the conditions they are accustomed to receiving in their natural habitat. Calatheas grow along the tropical forest floor, receiving dappled sunlight through the forest canopy and high humidity levels.
Light and Temperature
Calatheas generally are low light tolerant plants but ideally prefer medium light levels between 200-400 foot candles indoors. While they can tolerate a couple of hours of direct sun each day, this should only be gentle morning sun, as too much light can cause their foliage to fade or even burn.
Calatheas prefer tropical temperatures so keep your Calathea away from drafty windows, fridges, vents, or air conditioners. Ideally, you will want to keep your Calathea Musiaca in temperatures from 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C).
Water is typically where Calathea owners struggle, and Calathea Musaica is no exception. Their foliage is thin and delicate, and they do not retain moisture the way a succulent or cactus might, so they will not tolerate dry soil.
Their soil must be kept moist but not soaking wet as this may give them root rot. The best way to tell when your Calathea Musaica is ready for water is to purchase a moisture meter and water once the meter reads 2 or 1.
Calathea Musaicas can also be sensitive to chemical burns, so using chemically treated tap water may result in brown tips. They are also sensitive to cold temperatures, so distilled room temperature water or rainwater is best.
Humidity is crucial to growing a happy and healthy Calathea Musaica. They require plenty of humidity to avoid developing brown tips. Ideally, your humidity levels should be 60% or higher but at a minimum of 50%.
The most efficient way to increase humidity for your Calathea Musaica is to get a humidifier or keep it in a room that is naturally more humid, like a bathroom or kitchen, if the light allows. While there are other methods and hacks for boosting humidity levels, like grouping plants together, misting, and pebble trays, getting a humidifier is the best option for growing Calatheas.
Pests and Diseases
Calatheas can develop fungal issues, like Alternaria leaf spot or Helminthosporium leaf spot, so it’s always a good idea to keep fungicide handy if you notice a few brown or yellow spots in the center of the leaves.
Common houseplant pests tend to be attracted to Calatheas, including Calathea Musaica because the foliage is so tender. Unfortunately, pests are also often attracted to plants in distress, and Calatheas can become stressed out quite quickly.
That’s why it’s good to monitor your Calatheas daily and treat your Calathea for pests monthly, even if an infestation is not apparent. Spider mites and thrips are two particularly deadly pests for houseplants that can often exist undetected until the plant is completely infested.
You will need to propagate your Calathea Musaica by division rather than leaf or stem cuttings because, unlike many common houseplants, Calatheas do not develop nodes directly on the stem. Splitting an off-shoot from the root ball, separating it from the mother plant, and planting it in a new pot with soil, is the only successful way to propagate a Calathea Musaica.
The Calathea Musaica plant needs indirect sunlight, temperatures between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C), frequent watering and moist soil, 50-60% humidity, and regular monitoring for pests and diseases.
Caring for and propagating a Calathea Musaica is relatively straightforward as long as you handle them with care and give your Calathea plenty of time to recover. Calatheas have a reputation for being dramatic houseplants, but if you give them the proper care they need, you can enjoy their beautiful foliage and even share the new plants with friends and family.