The Peacock Plant Care Guide: Tips for Thriving Calathea

Get expert insights on caring for your Peacock Plant. Our guide covers everything from optimal growing conditions to presenting your Calathea in the best possible way.

By: Matt Slaymaker
July 10, 2020
How to Care for your Peacock Plant
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The peacock plant is one of the most popular indoor plants known for its beautiful watermelon-like patterned, variegated leaves. Its contrasting maroon-purple color on the reverse side adds color and texture to living spaces. As such, it appeals to many seasoned and beginner plant enthusiasts alike, and having one in your plant collection is a must. However, proper peacock plant care is vital for keeping your calathea happy indoors. And if you're wondering where to begin, this ultimate guide is here to help you.

What Is a Peacock Plant?

What is a peacock plant

The peacock plant, scientifically known as Calathea makoyana, is a stunning tropical plant renowned for its vibrant, patterned leaves resembling a peacock's tail. Belonging to the Marantaceae family, this evergreen plant is native to the jungles of South Africa and is a beloved choice among indoor plant enthusiasts. This section explores the unique characteristics that make the peacock plant a captivating addition to any plant lover's collection.

Is Peacock Plant Hard to Grow?

Growing a Peacock Plant is relatively straightforward, making it an easy plant to care for and suitable for beginners. Just provide the proper care, including consistently high temperatures (between 65 and 750F) and humidity levels (50-60%) for the plant to thrive indoors.

Does a Peacock Plant Bloom?

Unlike some plants prized for their flowers, the peacock plant is primarily cultivated for its stunning foliage. While it may produce small, inconspicuous white flowers, the real allure lies in its intricately patterned leaves. The focus should be on maintaining the foliage's health and vibrancy.

Calathea Peacock Plant Varieties

Calathea boasts various captivating varieties, including Calathea Ornata, Calathea Medallion, Calathea zebrina, Calathea makoyana, and Calathea orbifolia. Other unique plant types include the Calathea Rattlesnake and the Calathea concinna "Freddy."

What Are the Benefits of a Peacock Plant?

The Peacock Plant offers more than just aesthetic appeal rendered by its stunning foliage. This tropical beauty is a natural air purifier, effectively removing pollutants and enhancing indoor air quality. Its rhythmic leaf movements also provide a calming and therapeutic effect, making it an excellent choice for creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. With low-maintenance care and unique benefits, the Peacock Plant is a visually captivating addition to your home and a soothing companion.

How to Care for a Peacock Plant

Caring for a peacock plant involves understanding and meeting its specific needs. Let's break down the essential maintenance factors to ensure your Calathea thrives.

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Peacock Plant Light Requirements: What Kind of Light Does a Peacock Plant Need?

Peacock plants need medium to bright, indirect light to thrive, making them well-suited for indoor environments. While they appreciate sufficient light, they are sensitive to direct sunlight, which can burn their delicate leaves. Inadequate light leads to stunted growth and large spaces between leaves.

When deciding on the placement of your peacock plant, it's crucial to strike a balance by providing sufficient sunlight without overexposing it. This ensures optimal growth and preserves the plant's vibrant, patterned foliage.

Do Peacock Plants Like Direct Sunlight?

No. Peacock plants are sensitive to direct sunlight, which can scorch their delicate leaves, resulting in brown spots or tips. Place your plant in a room with filtered or indirect sunlight for optimal growth.

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Peacock Plant?

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Peacock Plant?

Source: House Beautiful

Ideal locations include areas near a north or east-facing window where the light is bright but not harsh. Avoid drafty spots and sudden temperature changes to ensure your peacock plant's well-being.

Peacock Watering Schedule: How Often to Water a Peacock Plant

Watering your peacock plant a couple of times a week is advisable. However, always test the soil first to determine if watering is necessary. Water when the top inch of the soil feels dry, typically every 1-2 weeks in summer. Reduce watering frequency during winter months when the plant isn't actively growing.

Avoid overwatering your peacock plant, as it’s susceptible to root rot. Ensure proper drainage in the pot to prevent waterlogging. Additionally, use water at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant. Consider placing a tray with water near the plant to enhance humidity, as these tropical plants thrive in moderately humid conditions. Regularly misting the leaves can improve the plant's overall health and vibrancy.

Soil & Fertilizer for a Peacock Plant

Soil & Fertilizer for a Peacock Plant

Source: Houseplant Authority

Creating an optimal environment for your peacock plant involves selecting the right soil mix and providing the necessary nutrients through proper fertilization. Understanding the specific needs of the peacock plant ensures a flourishing and vibrant addition to your indoor greenery.

What Is the Best Soil Mix for Calathea?

The ideal soil mix for Calatheas combines peat, perlite, and pine bark. This well-draining composition promotes a balanced moisture-retaining environment, meeting the plant's preferences for aeration and moisture.

What Do You Feed Calathea Plants?

What Do You Feed Calathea Plants?

Source: Bobvila

Calatheas benefit from a balanced liquid-soluble fertilizer regimen. Administer this fertilizer once or twice a month during the growing season, typically from spring through early summer. This ensures a consistent supply of nutrients, fostering healthy growth and maintaining the plant's vibrant foliage.

Peacock Plant: Temperature and Humidity

Peacock Plant: Temperature and Humidity

Source: Gardeners Path

Peacock plants' ideal indoor temperature range is between 65 and 75°F. Consider placing them outdoors in the evening when the temperatures are 55°F to 60°F and avoid direct sunlight. These tropical beauties thrive in the warmth, mimicking their natural habitat. It's essential to shield them from drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations to ensure optimal growth.

Can I Put My Peacock Plant Outside?

While peacock plants primarily thrive indoors, they can be placed outside on the porch, in a shaded area during warm seasons. However, avoid direct sunlight exposure to prevent leaf damage. The transition should be gradual to acclimate the plant to outdoor conditions.

What Moisture Level Do Peacock Plants Like?

Peacock plants prefer a high-humidity environment. Ideally, maintain humidity levels between 50% to 60%. Use a humidifier or put a tray filled with water near the plant to achieve and sustain these conditions, promoting optimal growth and vibrant foliage.

Should I Mist My Peacock Plant?

Misting is beneficial to your Peacock plant, especially in environments with lower humidity, to prevent the leaf edges and tips turning brown. It provides sufficient moisture by creating a microenvironment that mirrors the peacock plant's native tropical conditions. However, avoid excessively wetting the leaves, as this may result in fungal issues.

Peacock Plant: Pruning & Cleaning

Peacock Plant: Pruning & Cleaning

Source: Gardeners Path

Regular pruning and cleaning are integral to peacock plant care, contributing to its overall health and aesthetic appeal. 

Should I Prune My Peacock Plant?

Yes, pruning is beneficial for maintaining the vitality of your peacock plant. Regular pruning ensures the plant directs its energy towards healthy foliage, enhancing its overall appearance. Here's how to prune your Calathea peacock plant effectively. 

  • Remove the yellowing or damaged leaves using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. 
  • Then, trim the base of the affected leaf to encourage new growth.

How Do You Dust Calathea Leaves?

Support the leaves and gently wipe them with a damp cloth to clean accumulated dust. Be careful and avoid damaging the delicate surface of the leaves or bending the stems. Alternatively, place your plant in a shower, fill a watering can with filtered water, and rinse the leaves to remove dust.

Peacock Plant: Propagation & Repotting

Peacock Plant: Propagation & Repotting

Source: Bobvila

Propagation of the peacock plant, typically achieved by division, is a straightforward and commonly practiced method. While opinions vary on the ease of propagating it from cuttings, dividing the plant remains the preferred and most successful technique.

To propagate by division, wait until the peacock plant has entered its growing season, usually in spring or early summer. Remove the plant gently from its pot and carefully separate the roots into distinct sections, ensuring each division has roots and healthy foliage.

Transplant these divisions into their permanent larger pots with drainage holes to avoid waterlogging. Cover the roots with fresh, well-draining soil and use a suitable potting mix to provide nourishment. This method promotes the propagation of new peacock plants and revitalizes the original plant, encouraging robust growth.

When Should I Repot My Peacock Plant?

When Should I Repot My Peacock Plant?

Source: Gardeners Path

Consider repotting when your peacock plant outgrows its current container or when the soil depletes nutrients. That’s during spring when the plant is in its active growing season. This allows the plant to adapt to its new surroundings and overcome transplant shock.

Do Peacock Plants Like Small Pots?

Peacock plants don't mind being slightly root-bound, especially if you intend to control their size. However, it's crucial to choose a well-draining medium to a large pot size that provides enough space for growth without causing the roots to overcrowd.

Common Issues of Peacock Plant Care

Common Issues of Peacock Plant Care

Source: Reddit

While the peacock plant is resilient and captivating, several common issues may arise. Recognizing and promptly addressing these challenges is key to ensuring the continued health and vibrancy of your Calathea plant.

  • Yellowing leaves: It's often a sign of overwatering or insufficient light. Adjust watering frequency and ensure the plant receives adequate indirect sunlight.
  • Rolling leaves or brown edges: Indicative of low humidity levels or chlorides, salts, and fluorides in water. Increase humidity by using a humidifier, misting the leaves, or placing a tray with water nearby.
  • Leaf curling: This can result from underwatering or exposure to drafts. Adjust watering habits and relocate the plant to a draft-free spot.
  • Root rot: Common in overwatered soil. Allow the topsoil to dry out and avoid overwatering.
  • Pest problems: Pests like aphids and spider mites can cause your peacock plant's leaves to fall off or fleck. So, apply an insecticide every two weeks until the mites are under control to keep your plant healthy.

Seasonal Care: Overwintering Your Peacock Plant

As winter approaches, caring properly for your peacock plant is crucial, mainly if it has been kept outdoors during summer. To ensure its well-being:

  • Transition indoors: When temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C), bring your peacock plant indoors to shield it from cold stress.
  • Reduce watering: Adjust your watering routine and allow the topsoil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Maintain humidity: Counteract dry indoor air using a humidifier or misting the leaves to maintain humidity between 50% and 60%.
  • Avoid drafts: Protect the plant from drafts, which can cause leaf damage in winter's cooler temperatures.

Peacock Plant Care: FAQs

Q: Is a peacock plant the same as a prayer plant?

A: The Prayer Plant is another popular name for a peacock plant (Calathea). However, the true prayer plants are from the Maranta genus, which differs slightly from the Calathea genus. The name arises from the plant's unique leaf movements resembling hands in prayer at night. 

Q: Are peacock plants fast-growing?

A: Peacock plants have a relatively fast growth rate, typically gaining up to 4 feet in height each year. This is only possible with the proper care and growth conditions, such as high temperature and humidity.

Q: Why does my peacock plant move so much?

A: The "prayer plant" phenomenon occurs due to nyctinasty. The leaves of the peacock plant adjust their position in response to changes in light and temperature, folding upwards during the night.

Q: How long do peacock plants live?

A: With proper care, peacock plants can thrive from 5 to 40 years or more, depending on the conditions. Regular maintenance, appropriate watering, and attention to their needs contribute to longevity.

Q: Is a peacock plant safe for cats and dogs?

A: Yes, peacock plants are non-toxic to cats and dogs. As such, these pet-friendly beauties are a safe choice for households with pets. However, monitoring pets and discouraging nibbling on the plant is always wise to prevent any potential digestive discomfort.


Mastering peacock plant care is an enriching experience for plant enthusiasts. It entails providing the right balance of light, water, and humidity to ensure the health and longevity of your Calathea Peacock Plant. As you enjoy the beauty of its vibrant foliage, consider complementing your plant collection with other exquisite plants, such as the Money Tree plant and the Lady Palm. The Money Tree Plant is pet-friendly, prefers bright, indirect light, and needs comparable humidity levels. The Lady Palm requires the same light intensity as Peacock plants and is safe for pets, too. Its complimentary height and shaped leaves, including ease of care, make it perfect for newbie indoor plant gardeners. All these plants offer a great way to create a diverse and vibrant indoor garden. They also make the perfect gift for friends and family.