Calathea dressleri ‘Helen Kennedy’

A truly rare variety Calathea, the Helen Kennedy features a striking dark patterned foliage, resembling a peacock.

Rarely on offer, a must have for all the Calathea collectors.

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Origin: Panama
Genus: Calathea
Species / Cultivar: dressleri var. 'Helen Kennedy'

Plant Biography

Related to prayer plants, bananas and gingers, this species is well adapted to humid tropical environments. Tolerant of full sun to partial shade it requires the challenging combination of well drained soils that remain constantly moist.

Calathea dressleri was first described by botanist Helen Kennedy from collections made in Panama.

The bright contrasting patterns and colours of the leaves are reminiscent of the spectacular plumage of male peacocks.

At ‘home’ in the higher elevation cloud forests of Central America where rain showers begin at 1 pm every day.

Calathea dressleri 'Helen Kennedy'
Light: Bright Indirect
This plant likes sun, but keep out of direct sunlight. Best placed in an area near a window.
Soil: Indoor Potting Mix
Enjoys moist well drained soil with composted organics and some drainage material.
Temperature: 18 - 27°C
Temperature range at which this plant is healthiest and grows best.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: High
Likely to require supplementary watering in warmer months, even once established.
Humidity: High
Provide moist air via daily misting or trays of wet grit. Keep away from drafts and heaters.
Maintenance: Moderate
This plant has specific requirements. Incorrect care can quickly lead to signs of distress.
Eventual Height: 0.8m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.6m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.

Who is Helen Kennedy?

The Calathea dressleri was named after American botanist Helen Kennedy who has conducted extensive research in the Marantaceae family, especially Calathea and Maranta in the tropical forests of Ecuador and Panama.

She holds a PhD at University of California on cross-pollination of Calatheas. She has worked on flora projects including Flora Mesoamericana, Flora of the Guianas, Manual de las plantas de Costa Rica and Flora of Nicaragua, and is a member of the Heliconia Society International.

Several other plants were named after her, including Philodendron heleniae and Guzmania kennedyae.

Expert Tip

Check periodically the underside of the leaves, and mist periodically on both sides of the leaves with water. Clean the leaves once a month with a damp cloth to remove dust build up and to keep them shiny. Avoid using any leaf shining products as this will clog the pores present only on the top side of the leaves.
Care Size & Guidance

Care Size & Guidance

The plant thrives in a humid environment, with relative humidity of 60 – 70%. It makes it an ideal plant for a bathroom or a bedroom.

Fertilise periodically with a half strength balanced sea weed based fertiliser. Do not fertilise when the flowers are showing. Keep the soil moist to touch at all times.

Within the average home, this plant and its relatives are prone to infestations of spider mites as the relative humidity is too low.

Expert Tip

Avoid using tap water for the Calathea 'Helen Kenedy'. The hard water and other minerals found in tap water will build up in the soil and around the roots, leading to brown tips.
Rest time and revival

Rest time and revival

Periodically, the plant will flower, however the flowers are quite inconspicuous. Once the flowering period has ended, the plant may go dormant, dropping all its leaves. It can stay dormant for up to 1 – 2 months, during which time it will look like an empty pot.

Keep the pot dry during this time, in a cool dark spot. Once ready to revive, provide the plant with a ‘wake up’ tea, made from one tea bag in one litre of cold water, cold brewed for 5 minutes. This will simulate the arrival of the rainy season.

Move the plant to a warm place, with plenty of indirect light and cover with a plastic bag or place in a terrarium to keep high humidity around the newly growing leaves. Remove the cover once 2-3 leaves have fully unfurled.

1 customer review for Calathea dressleri ‘Helen Kennedy’

Absolutely stunning foliage, still lush and happy after one year from getting it from The Palm Centre. I had the rare opportunity to get my hands on one of these Calatheas, as I hear theyre very rare. Amazing quality and very good service every single time!

Hilary G