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Not your normal Calathea! Calatheas are generally smallish plants to around 50cm high, grown for their attractively patterned leaves. This Calathea is a giant, growing 6 to 10 feet tall (1.8m to 3m). Calathea lutea is an extremely beautiful and unusual plant. The oval shaped leaves are broad and attractive, being gracefully held on long stems which gives this plant a very tropical looking appearance. The leaves are heavily pleated with a beautiful waxy backing, which makes the undersides of the leaves look silver. Leaves are around 1 metre long and about 40-50cm wide. The flowers are stunning, although not beautiful in the traditional sense. They appear to be made of thick, reddish/brown coloured wax. The small round bracts nest in and overlap with each other, resulting in a long, cigar shaped arrangement. The flowers grow to around 1 foot in length and are fantastic cut flowers – not to mention a conversation piece! This flower will add subtle beauty to any display.
Calatheas love heat and humidity. This particular species will grow in full sun to half shade. The large leaves are fairly tolerant of the wind and do no shred easily, although a slightly sheltered area is always best. They may be grown outdoors in the garden or as a large container specimen. Soil should contain a high level of organic matter, and be well drained. Keep them on the moist side (with perfect soil drainage) and fertilize regularly. You should have your first flowers within about 12 months of planting your rhizome. Rhizomes can be lifted in cold winter climates and stored. An easily grown tropical!