Calatheas are normally a low growing plant, shade lovers with colourful leaves. Calathea lutea however is a much taller growing species, up to around 3-4m, and can take a reasonable amount of sun. C. lutea, or Havana Cigar, is a great landscaping choice for tropical or Balinese style gardens. It can also be useful as a screening plant, or as a potted specimen on a balcony. Calathea lutea is sometimes recommended as an indoor plant, but needs bright conditions and overhead light to avoid it growing on a strange angle.
This said, Havana Cigar is probably best grown out in the garden in part sun or filtered light. In more tropical areas where humidity is more consistent, this plant can grow in almost full sun. Around Brisbane though, we recommend no more than half a day of sun, ideally the morning half. Like most Calatheas, it’s a very forgiving plant, and can come back from the rhizome if it ever gets damaged or defoliated. However, don’t expect it to perform well on poor or heavy soils. Most soils around Brisbane will require the addition of good organic matter prior to planting, to improve fertility and drainage.
Calathea lutea should be feed regularly in the growing season to encourage clean and lush new growth. Products such as Organic Link, Active 8 or manures will feed the plant and also improve the soil. Regular watering will be required during the growing season. They will not tolerate drought. Reduce watering dramatically in winter. They will become dormant and will be vulnerable to rotting.
Like most Calatheas, they don’t attract many pests and disease. Watch for mealybug in the summer. Grasshoppers may also chew the foliage.
Fairly easy to care for. Calathea lutea does best in part shade/filtered sun on rich well-drained soils. Does not suffer any major pest issues but will occasionally get mealybug or scale. Will not tolerate frost. Fertilize with a slow release fertilizer such as Troforte.
Large paddle-shaped leaf