Calathea makoyana Care Guide (Peacock Plant/ Cathedral Windows)

Last Updated on May 18, 2021 by Sophie

Not to be confused with the similar looking plant, Calathea roseopicta, Calathea makoyana is a gorgeous houseplant which will add vibrant leaves to your collection and is fairly easy to care for when it comes to Calatheas. Here’s your ultimate Calathea Makoyana care guide, including watering advice, how to propagate the peacock plant, and the best soil to use.

Calathea Makoyana

Given the right conditions, this type of Calathea will grow up to two foot in height and will spread out equally as wide in a bush like formation. The plant originates from Brazil and is also known as Cathedral windows thanks to its unique pattern of a light green leaf with painted green stripes and spots.

As you can imagine, the Calathea makoyana is also known as the ‘peacock plant’ thanks to the facts that its leaves also resemble those of the tail of male peacocks. Scientifically, the plant is also known as Goeppertia makoyana (many Calatheas have recently been reclassed as Goeppertias but the names remain interchangeable when discussing the plants). 

The Cathedral Windows plant is widely regarded to be a type of Prayer Plant on account of the fact that its leaves are photophilic. What this means is that they open and close depending on the amount of light available. In the day time, the leaves will spread wide open whereas night they will close up. The motion of the leaves moving up and down leads to the name ‘prayer plant’.

Calathea makoyana Care Guide (Peacock Plant/ Cathedral Windows)


Calathea makoyana care guide

Light levels for the peacock plant

Bright, direct sunlight will cause the leaves to become less vibrant and marked. If the plant is in direct sunlight and you start to notice that the leaves are starting to become discoloured, then move the plant to a new spot immediately and continue to survey it.

Watering your Peacock Calathea

One of the most important aspects to consider when caring for your Calathea is its watering schedule. Calatheas don’t like to dry out between waterings and so should be watered little but often. When the top inch or so of the soil is dry, it’s time to water the plant again.

Conversely, too much water should be avoided as the plants don’t like to have their feet wet. This often leads to root rot, from which there is little chance that the plant will recover. Prayer plants are particularly prone to browning leaf tips (more on this below).

As well as having adequate amounts of water, another consideration that is particularly important when it comes to the Calathea makoyana is humidity levels. The plant likes to have a high humidity in order to avoid pests, and one of the easiest ways to maintain humidity is to group like plants together. You can also gently mist the leaves every few days in order to maintain high enough humidity levels for the peacock plant.

cathedral windows plant care guide

Best soil conditions for the Cathedral Windows Calathea

Since the amount of water that the plant receives is one of the key elements in ensuring that it stays healthy and pest free, the prayer plant should be potted in well draining soil. Though there is no prescribed mixture, the plant should have some organic material as well as sand.

If in doubt, or you don’t want to delve into the specifics of what kind of soil you need, your local garden centre which sells indoor plants will often sell soil which is suitable for plants which have originated in tropical climates. During the spring and summer, the Calathea should be fertilised every month or so as to promote growth.

peacock calathea care guide

Calathea makoyana Propagation

Like most prayer plants, the makoyana unfortunately cannot be rooted in water via stem or leaf cuttings. Instead, propagation of the plant should be done via root division during repotting (which should typically be done during the beginning of the growing season; i.e. in spring or early summer so as to allow the plant to develop new roots in the larger pots).

When you’re repotting your calathea plant, simply shake off the excess soil and divide the plant at the roots and stems. Each division should ensure that the ensuing plant has at least three or four stems to allow for the best chance to survival.

If you’re repotting the Calathea because it’s rootbound, then be sure to repot both halves of the plant in pots which is similar in size to the one that the calathea just came out of. Of course, if you have a larger plant, then you can even divide your plant into three, four, or five, plants.

When watering newly potted divisions, take care not to overwater as the root system is not as developed and is therefore prone to root rot. Newly potted plants will also appear to grow at a slower pace as the roots of the peacock plant are developing and so the plant is not as focused on producing new foliage.

Calathea makoyana Care Guide

Calathea makoyana flower

As with most Calathea varieties, it is incredibly difficult to get the Peacock plant to bloom indoors. Provided that the right conditions are met and you are incredibly lucky, then you can expect to see small white flowers which are not particularly exciting to look at. After all, the joy of Calatheas lies in the vibrancy and beauty of their leaves.

Common Calathea makoyana problems

Brown leaf tips

Hands down, with the exception of pests, one of the most common problems which indoor gardeners face when it comes to growing Calatheas is brown leaf tips. This is often due to the quality of the water that you are giving the plants and the number of minerals within it. In order for extra guidance on this issue, be sure to check out our guide to fixing Calathea browning leaf tips.

Spider mites

If the Calathea makoyana is left to dry out too much in between waterings, or there is a lack of humidity (a real problem for Calatheas in general) then it becomes particularly susceptible to pests, including spider mites. Despite their name including ‘spider,’ they have no relation to arachnids.

Their name comes from the fact that they spin webs on the underside of the plant leaves. The best way to treat spidermites is by spraying down the plant with a hose (or shower if you live in an apartment with no garden).

Spray the entirety of the plant with a diluted washing up liquid solution in order to treat the plant entirely. You may have to treat the plant several times in order to get rid of spider mites as they can be hard to get rid of. If too much damage is done, there may be no hope for the plant. As soon as you notice spider mites on any of your plants, it’s best to isolate it immediately as they can rapidly spread. 

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Calathea makoyana Care Guide (Peacock Plant/ Cathedral Windows)

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!