Calathea warscewiczii Care Guide (Jungle Velvet)

Calathea warscewiczii leaf

The beautiful Calathea warscewiczii is noted for its elegant leaves with dark-green patterns on the topside and red to purple colored bottom sides. The Calathea warscewiczii is commonly known as the jungle velvet. It’s not the easiest plant to care for and maintain in good shape because it has specific water and humidity needs. Nevertheless, this plant will make a fantastic addition to your indoor garden collection. If you want to incorporate a tropical aura into your house, this plant will definitely deliver. When taken care of correctly, this plant will reward you with its unique appearance. Here’s a full Calathea warscewiczii care guide, including how often to water the plant, which soil to use, where to plant it, and how to propagate it.

Calathea warscewiczii in pot

Summary:

  • Light: Bright indirect light
  • Water: Water regularly, soil should be moist at all times but not soaked
  • Soil: Soil needs to drain as well as retain (2/3 peat & 1/3 perlite mix)
  • Size: The plant grows up to 40″ (1 m) tall
  • Size: The plant grows up to 40″ (1 m) wide
  • Zone: 11 (minimum 40°F | 4.4°C)
  • Cold hardy: Not cold hardy
  • Propagation: By division and seeds
  • Toxicity: Not toxic to humans and pets

General Care for Calathea warscewiczii (Jungle Velvet)

The Calathea warscewiczii is a great houseplant, however, because it has specific water and humidity needs, it can be pretty hard to take care of if you are a houseplant newbie.

Watering

The jungle velvet can be a drama queen as to water and humidity needs. If the plant gets too little water, the leaves are going to hang and eventually will dry out. If you give too much water and have soggy soil all the time, there is a big chance that the roots will start to rot and the plant will slowly die.

With the Calathea warscewiczii, you want to make sure that the soil is always a little bit moist, not soaked. Best is to check the soil twice a week and stick your finger 1″ (2,5 cm) deep into the soil to feel if it’s dry or moist. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to give the plant some water.

Tip: An easy way to give your Calathea the right amount of water is by using a watering globe. This globe will automatically give the plant the perfect amount of water. Click here to check out the watering globe on Etsy.

The Calathea warscewiczii also likes to grow in an environment where the humidity is high. To mimic this environment, you can mist your plant once or twice a week with water. You can do this with a mist machine or with a spray bottle filled with water.

Where to Plant

The jungle velvet is not cold hardy and is highly sensitive to cold temperatures, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 40°F (4.4°C) it’s best to put this plant in a container. If the temperatures drop during the winter months, you can bring the plant indoors.

It does well in bright indirect sunlight. However, you want to avoid direct sunlight as the leaves will burn and the beautiful colors will fade.

Because the Jungle Velvet likes high humidity, a bathroom would be a great place to keep this plant.

Calathea warscewiczii leaf closup

How to Propagate Calathea warscewiczii (Jungle Velvet)

Unfortunately, unlike most tropical plants, Calatheas cannot be propagated by stem cutting. Propagating Calathea warscewiczii can easily be done by division. It can also be done by seeds, but this is the more difficult way as seeds are hard to come by.

Division

The Calathea warscewiczii naturally grows little bundles of roots with stems and leaves growing out of it. If it’s time to repot the zebra plant (in spring), you can carefully divide the plant to propagate it.

First, you want to get the plant out of its pot, and carefully remove the soil from the roots. If the soil is removed and you can clearly see the roots, you want to carefully divide the roots. Make sure before you do this, the plant is healthy and big enough to be divided.

After you have cut away the dead and damaged parts of the roots (if there are any), you can pot each division separately in a pot with the right soil mix (for example 2/3 peat moss & 1/3 perlite).

Lastly, you want to put a zip bag over the two pots with the divisions to provide high humidity for the stem to grow in (mini-greenhouse). place the pot with the bag over it in a spot where it receives bright indirect sunlight.

If you see new growth (usually after a month) you can remove the zip bag and now you have two beautiful zebra plants.

Seeds

This is the more challenging way to propagate the Calathea warscewiczii, but it’s possible! First, you want to buy seeds from a trusted supplier…

Then, you want to make a soil mix of 1:1 ratio with peat and coarse sand and fill a small planter or propagation tray with the soil.

Now you can plant the seeds 0.5″ (~1cm) in the soil. After that, water the seeds lightly and put a plastic bag over the containers to provide high humidity. Next, put the pots with the plastic bag in a spot that gets lots of bright indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist.

In addition, you want to add a heat mat under the containers to keep the seedlings warm. The heat will improve the germination success rate.

After a couple of months, when the seedlings are 2″ (5cm) tall, carefully transplant them into bigger pots without damaging the roots.

Voila! You have now successfully propagated the jungle velvet!