Calathea crocata Care Guide (Eternal Flame Plant)

Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by Sophie

One Calathea plant which doesn’t really resemble other prayer plants in any way is that of Calathea crocata. After all, instead of being praised for its vibrant leaves, the Calathea crocata is grown for its beautiful yellow flowers, which are so stunning that the Calathea is known informally as Eternal Flame on account of its blooms. Here’s your complete Calathea crocata care guide, as well as watering tips, hot to propagate this prayer plant, and general advice.

Calathea crocata

Calathea crocata origiantes from the tropics of Brazil but is increasingly hard to find in the wild. Part of the Maranta family, the Eternal Flame plant is also regarded to be a ‘prayer plant’ on account of the fact that it is photophilic.

What this means is that the plant will open and close its leaves on account of lighting conditions. During the daytime, the plant will open its leaves wide so as to allow the most amount of light in as possible.

Conversely, at night, the plant will close up its leaves, hence the leaves move in a ‘prayer motion’. Like many types of Calathea, the top of the leaves of this plant are dark green, with maroon undersides. Calathea crocata is widely regarded to be one of the easier to care for Calatheas.


Calathea crocata flowers

The most special part about the Calathea crocata is that the flowers are simply stunning. Whereas most Calathea varieties are purchased because of their vibrant and ornate leaves (while their flowers remain a little dull and interesting), the crocata is the inverse of this as the leaves are pretty nice, but the flowers are exceptional.

The yellow and orange blooms of the crocata resemble fire, hence the nickname for the plant of ‘Eternal Flame’. What’s more is that the flowers grow taller than the deep maroon leaves, meaning that the flowers peak out of the foliage like fire! The flowers are particularly long lasting and can bloom from anywhere between two and three months.

Calathea crocata flowers

Calathea crocata care guide

Eternal Flame Plant light conditions

Despite often being advertised as a low light plant, this is simply not the case and is often a myth. In fact, Calatheas do best in bright, indirect sunlight such as a few feet away from an East or West facing window.

If the Calathea gets too much bright, direct sunlight then you may well start to notice that the leaves become discoloured and lose their vibrancy. If this happens, then it’s time to move the plant into a different spot with less light. However, if your plant is not flowering and it’s growing season (i.e. spring and summer), then this may well be a sign that your plant isn’t receiving adequate amounts of light.

Calathea eternal flame watering

One of the key things to know before growing the eternal flame plant is that a watering schedule is essential to the plant being able to grow and thrive. Calatheas don’t like to dry out between waterings as these leaves them particularly prone to getting pests, namely spidermites. 

Instead, the Calathea plant should be kept moist at all times. With this being said, the Eternal Flame plant doesn’t like to have its feet (roots) sitting in water as this can lead to root rot, from, which there is little chance of recovery.

The best method to take is to re-water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil is dry. There is no prescribed amount of water to give the plant per se considering that the speed at which the plant will dry out depends on the temperature of the room which it’s kept in and the light it receives.

When it comes to watering your crocata plant, you’ll want to be wary about the type of the water you use. Calatheas are prone to crispy leaves and the crocata is no exception. I often use water which has been sitting on the side for a few days to water my plants.

Additionally, Calatheas enjoy a high level of humidity, without which they can develop pests. There are a few ways you can increase the humidity levels for your plants. The easiest is to group your plants together. I personally also mist my plants every few days to ensure that they are getting high enough humidity levels.

Calathea crocata Propagation

Unlike many varieties of philodendron and plenty of species of succulent, Calatheas (and most other prayer plants) cannot be propagated via a rooted stem cutting. Instead, propagation is through division whereby the plant is divided at the roots into several plants during the start of the growing season (i.e. in the spring and summer).

Each division should ensure that the ensuing plant has at least three or four stems to allow for the best chance to survival. Shake off any excess soil when you’ve removed the plant from its pot and use a clean sharp knife to separate the root ball.

It’s important that the knife is clean and has not been used on any other plants without washing it first as this can spread infections between plants. Following division and repotting, be wary not to overwater the plants.

As each individual plant is smaller than the original, they will require less water. Newly divided plants will also appear to grow slower than more established ones which have not been repotted recently as the plants will focus on growing new root systems before putting out new foliage. Repotting should be done roughly every two years.

About Author

Sophie Nadeau is a travel, pizza, and history lover who is currently based in Paris, France. A keen indoor gardener, she spends her time at home reading books, looking at too many dog photos, and growing an indoor jungle in her tiny flat!