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Publication #FPS86

Calathea makoyana Peacock Plant1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Beautifully marked leaves in various shades of green, cream, white, pink, and silver held aloft on maroon stems make peacock plant an attractive, clump-forming plant for outdoor use or as a house plant (Fig. 1). The undersides of the leaves are dark purple making a striking contrast to the lighter colored tops of the leaves. Flowers are small and inconspicuous to all but the astute observer. The striking foliage gives this plant distinction.

Figure 1. 

Peacock plant.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Calathea makoyana
Pronunciation: kal-luhth-EE-uh mack-oy-AY-nuh
Common name(s): peacock plant
Family: Marantaceae
Plant type: herbaceous; perennial
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: specimen; container or above-ground planter; border; ground cover; accent; suitable for growing indoors
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 2 to 4 feet
Spread: 2 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thick

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic
Drought tolerance:
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches

Other

Roots: sprouts from roots or lower trunk
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: very sensitive to one or more pests or diseases which can affect plant health or aesthetics

Use and Management

A porous potting media high in organic matter is preferred for best leaf color and growth but avoid constantly wet soil as root-rots are quite damaging. Filtered light is needed as bright light will wash out the brilliant leaf colors. High humidity is vital for growth as a house plant, with daily mistings recommended. Plant on three-foot centers for mass planting outdoors. Peacock plant also works well as a tall ground cover toward the front of a shrub border. It performs well in a container on a deck or patio in the shade.

Propagation is by cuttings or division.

Pests and Diseases

Mites can be a serious pest problem, particularly if the plant is in a sunny location.

No diseases are of major concern.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS86, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.