Calathea elliptica ‘Vitatta’
Admired by many for their unique, intricately patterned and colourful foliage, Calatheas make for stunning statement plants to add a tropical flair to your home.
Calathea elliptica ‘Vitatta’ is a Prayer Plant with elliptical medium-green leaves that features striking white variegated stripes.
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The genus Calathea consists of more than 300 species which usually live in the relatively lowlight and humid conditions of the understories of tropical forests. Whilst many plants in this environment, such as climbers, have evolved to get closer to the light above, Calatheas have adapted to the conditions provided by the forest floor.
In their natural habitat, many Calatheas produce beautiful and boldly coloured flowers, but its their striking foliage which has led them to become a popular houseplant. So much so, that there are now countless cultivars each with their own unique foliage, ensuring that there’s a Calathea for everybody, and every home.
Calathea elliptica is native to South America, where it lives on the rainforest floor. ‘Vitatta’ is a slightly obscure cultivar that is praised for its distinctive white stripes which appear almost painted on the leaves.
Why Prayer Plants 'Pray'
As a member of the Prayer Plant family, the leaves of this Calathea will characteristically ‘pray’, folding up at night before re-opening again as the morning sun rises.
At the base of each leaf is a joint-like thickening called the pulvinus, which swells and shrinks in response to pressure developed in the leaves. This is what enables the ‘praying’ to take place.
This movement of the leaves is a process known as nyctinasty, which serves a number of purposes. It allows the plant to absorb as much light as possible in its low light rainforest environment, helps to absorb and retain water, and reduces the risk of fungi and bacteria forming on their leaves.
Calatheas can be fussy when placed in the wrong location, so choosing a good spot is essential.
A place with bright but indirect light is ideal. Avoid south facing spots with too much intense direct sunlight, unless you diffuse the light with a sheer curtain.
Like other Calatheas this plant enjoys high humidity, but overly wet soil can quickly lead to root rot.
Wipe the leaves regularly to prevent a build up of dust.