Calathea ‘White Fusion’ (Calathea lietzei) sure looks like a superstar, but does it have diva demands too?
Some might say so, but we maintain you just have to know what it needs (like any good plant or popstar handler).
Picture this: a stunning variegated houseplant with large green, white, and purple wavy leaves that looks like it stepped right out of a tropical paradise.
In our Calathea ‘White Fusion’ care guide, you’ll learn about how to cater to its every whim, an even newer cultivar, and how to propagate a variegated plant from a reverted one. Intrigued yet?
Let’s get growing!
Calathea White Fusion Care Guide
History, habitat, and characteristics
Taiyan Yam discovered the Calathea ‘White Fusion’ cultivar by chance in a commercial nursery in May 2007 and patented in 2015, so it hasn’t been around for long.
(Its inventor actually termed it Calathea ‘Fusion White,’ but that . . . didn’t quite catch on.)
Its original roots go way back to Central Mexico and tropical South America, where the plant it mutated from, another unnamed variety of Calathea lietzei, thrives in the humid, low-light rainforest understory.
Calathea ‘White Fusion’ is from the Marantaceae family, like the prayer plant, Calathea makoyana. In fact, people often call them both peacock plant or prayer plant, and it’s not hard to see why.
‘White Fusion’ is a showstopper boasting wavy green and white marbled leaves with purple undersides. Its leaves “close” or fold up at night like maranta plants (prayer plants) do. This is a nyctinastic trait that helps Calathea ‘White Fusion’ get the most sun during the day and conserve water at night.
Owning one is like inviting a rainforest celebrity to live in your apartment – sure, they look amazing, but they’re also known for being quite . . . dramatic.
When the Calathea ‘White Fusion’ plant’s living conditions aren’t perfect, it puts on a full tantrum. Its leaves may start to curl or drop (talk about high-maintenance!), and you might even think it’s about to die. But wait, there’s a twist!
The ‘White Fusion,’ being the resilient royalty it is, will shed its older, problematic leaves and sprout new, sometimes completely green ones, as it adapts to its new life with you. Talk about a plant with a survival instinct!
(If this does happen, read on to the propagation section to learn how to recover those trademark white-streaked leaves.)
Calathea ‘White Fusion’ variants
The same person who discovered ‘White Fusion,’ Taiyan Yam, also recently patented (November 2022!) another Calathea lietzei cultivar called ‘Stella’ that developed from ‘White Fusion.’
It has the same color scheme, but the bottom of its leaves are more dark translucent purple and leaf margins are wavier. It’s also taller, has stronger leaf laminas (blades), grows more quickly, and can tolerate a higher amount of light than ‘White Fusion’ can.
If you see it out in the world, let us know!
Calathea ‘White Fusion’ is native to tropical rainforests, where it grows under the forest canopy’s dappled shade. So, try to recreate that environment at home by placing it in a spot with filtered bright light.
Close to a north or east-facing window (indirect light) is ideal, but a few feet away from a south or west-facing exposure (direct light) will work as well. Alternatively, you can filter any direct sunlight with a sheer curtain.
Signs your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ isn’t getting enough light:
- Leggy growth: Does your plant look like it’s trying to reach for the stars? That’s probably because it needs more light!
- Loss of variegation: The beautiful white and green patterns may start disappearing. That’s your cue to find a brighter spot for your plant.
- Slow growth: Are the new leaves smaller than the old ones? It might not be getting enough light to grow properly.
Too much direct sunlight or bright light is also a problem. If you notice dry, crispy patches in the middle of the leaves (more than the edges), it’s time to make a change. Too much light can also fade leaf colors, making them look a bit washed out.
As for water, Calathea don’t like to go dry, but they also don’t like to be drowned. It can be a delicate balancing act.
Instead of watering on a schedule, check the soil moisture levels. If the mix is dry an inch or two down, it’s time to break out the watering can.
Don’t be shy when watering, either. Let it flow like a tropical rainstorm to hydrate that root system. (Also, make sure any pot you choose has drainage holes so these guys don’t sit in excess water).
Rainwater, filtered, or distilled water are all better than tap water.
Here’s how to tell if you’ve got the watering schedule right . . . or wrong.
Signs of underwatering include:
- Curling or crisping leaves: It’s a sad day when your plant’s leaves start looking like curly fries. Time to step up the hydration game.
- Slower growth: Are you wondering if your plant is stuck in slow motion? Chances are, it’s parched.
- Limp stems: Nobody likes a droopy plant. Limp stems are practically begging for more water.
Signs of overwatering include:
- Yellow leaves are your plant’s way of saying, “Help, I can’t swim!”
- Root rot: Trust me, you’ll know when you smell it. Also, check for blackened roots and – you guessed it – yellow leaves.
- Wilting: Is your plant wilting even though the soil is wet? Yep, that’s a classic sign of overwatering.
Temperature and humidity
Calathea ‘White Fusion’ thrives in temperatures ranging from 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C) during the day, while nighttime temperatures shouldn’t dip below 60°F (15°C).
This plant also prefers a high humidity environment, with levels between 50% and 70% . . . yup, that high! These are true tropical plants we’re talking about here.
To raise humidity levels:
- Put your plant on a pebble tray with water. As the water evaporates, it’ll humidify the air around your plant.
- Use a humidifier. I know, a little obvious, but it works!
- Group humidity-loving plants together so they can share humidity and form a microclimate.
If the humidity is too low around your Calathea ‘White Fusion,’ its leaves may begin to brown or curl.
Conversely, if you notice mold, mildew, or rotting leaves, it’s an indication that there’s too much humidity, leading to fungal diseases and pest problems.
Low temperatures can cause your calathea’s leaves to curl or wilt, while high temperatures can lead to leaf scorching or yellowing. It’s essential to maintain a stable temperature in the room where you keep your plant to avoid causing stress or damage.
Soil and planting
Like other calathea plants, ‘White Fusion’ thrives in well-draining potting soil, allowing water to flow through quickly so the roots don’t sit in wet and soggy conditions. They do best in African violet soil mix. If you want to make your own, you can do that too.
An ideal Calathea ‘White Fusion’ potting soil:
- Potting mix
- Perlite or coco coir (~20%)
- Orchid bark (~10%)
Calathea plants have a fine root system, which means they need regular watering to stay hydrated, since their delicate roots can’t absorb much water at once. This soil mixture offers an excellent balance between drainage and moisture retention.
If your mix doesn’t drain well, prayer plants like the White Fusion can suffer from rotting roots or stunted growth. If your plant’s leaves start to wilt, turn yellow, or fall off, it may indicate that the soil is either not well-draining or too heavy.
To fix this, repot the plant in a lighter fresh soil mix with the components mentioned above.
Cut off brown or dying leaves at the stem with sterilized scissors or shears, and toss them instead of dropping them into the soil (this can attract bugs). New leaves will grow where the old ones were, we promise! Similarly, pluck off any dead blooms so the plant can direct more energy to its leaves.
Repot your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ plant every year or so to prevent it from getting rootbound, which makes it more vulnerable to fungus. Try to replant in spring or summer when your plant is actively growing. Choose a pot an inch or two larger than the previous one. If you overwater, consider using a porous terracotta pot (unglazed), which helps water evaporate more quickly.
Fertilize Calathea ‘White Fusion’ monthly during its growing season, which usually spans from late spring to early fall. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer (or one high in nitrogen), but make sure to dilute it to half the recommended strength to prevent over-fertilizing.
Overfertilizing your Calathea White Fusion can lead to issues like leaf burn, stunted growth, and even plant death. If you spot brown edges or tips on the leaves and weak overall growth, it may be a sign that you’ve been too generous with the fertilizer.
To get your plant back to tiptop health, flush the soil with filtered water to wash out excess fertilizer, wait until the next watering session, and then reapply at a reduced strength.
You’ll be happy to know that propagating Calathea ‘White Fusion’ is a relatively easy process. While you can propagate it by seeds, the easiest ways are by stem cutting or root division (we’ll go over this method here).
Rhizome division, also known as root division, is the secret (shh, don’t tell!) behind restoring the variegated foliage of a plant that’s lost it. If you take a stem cutting from a Calathea ‘White Fusion’ that’s turned green, or reverted, you’ll just get more green leaves.
When you separate that stem from the rhizome, though, and replant just the rhizome . . . white variegation again, just like magic!
Check out a great propagation video here that explains this more fully and also goes over how to recognize all parts of the plant, including rhizomes.
To propagate your Calathea White Fusion by division:
- Prepare the mother plant. Remove your plant from its pot and separate any pups (or baby plants) from the mother plant. They should be at least seven inches tall if possible. If you want to separate the roots more easily, you can soak the plant in water for a short while. If you don’t have any pups, move on to the next step.
- Identify and divide the rhizomes. You’ll notice rhizomes (fleshy root clusters) below the stem. These rhizomes can be super tiny, so be sure to locate them carefully. Use a sterilized knife and make one clean cut, dividing the root system in half.
- Pot the divisions. Choose a pot with drainage holes and fill it partially with a well-draining potting mix, preferably the one we mentioned above. Gently place your new division into the pot, ensuring that the roots are covered and the growing point or leaf is above the soil line. Water the new plant thoroughly, allowing any excess water to drain away.
- Provide optimal growing conditions. Place your newly propagated Calathea ‘White Fusion’ in a warm, brightly lit spot with indirect light. Keep humidity as high as possible. Make sure the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. It may take around 6-8 weeks for your plant to develop and put out new baby leaves, so be patient!
Note: The best time to propagate your Calathea White Fusion is during its active growing season, which typically falls between spring and summer.
Leaves turning completely green
If you’ve noticed your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ leaves are losing their gorgeous white, green, and purple variegation and turning completely green, it’s likely because your plant isn’t getting the right amount of light.
Calathea White Fusion loves medium to bright, indirect light. If it’s getting too much, consider moving it closer to a window with filtered light or using a sheer curtain to diffuse any direct light. If it’s getting too little, move it closer to a window or supplement with full spectrum LED lights.
Yellowing leaves can be caused by overwatering, low humidity, or nutrient deficiencies. Let’s find the underlying reason and get those leaves back to their vibrant selves.
First things first, check the soil and take a look at your watering habits. Your plant likes slightly damp soil but not totally saturated for days, so make sure you’re using a well-draining potting mix and letting the top 1-2 inches dry out between waterings.
Now, about humidity — Calathea ‘White Fusion’ loves a humid environment. Check out our humidity tips in the “Temperature and humidity” section if you spot curling or browning leaves.
And finally, remember to feed your plant! A balanced liquid fertilizer — diluted to half the recommended strength — every 4-6 weeks during the growing season should do the trick.
Leaves falling off
Seeing your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ leaves falling off might be alarming, but don’t panic! It could be due to temperature fluctuations, pests, or watering issues. Let’s dive into each possibility and help your plant bounce back.
First, keep an eye on the temperature around your plant. Your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ prefers stability, with temperatures between 65-80°F. So, protect it from drafts, air vents, and heat sources that can cause sudden changes.
Next, inspect your plant for any uninvited guests (I’m talking about spider mites, mealybugs, and other pesky pests)! If you find any, break out the insecticidal soap or neem oil to send them packing.
Last but not least, it’s time to revisit your watering routine (yes, again). Leaves can fall off due to both under- and overwatering, so aim for consistently damp soil (as in, not sopping) and only water when the soil is dry an inch or two down.
Diseases and pests
Even the diva Calathea ‘White Fusion’ isn’t free from potential root rot. This usually occurs when the plant is overwatered or the soil doesn’t drain sufficiently. Identifying the issue early on is crucial to saving your plant.
Signs of root rot include:
- Yellowing leaves
- Wilted appearance
- Mushy, black or brown roots
- Unpleasant smell from the soil
If you suspect root rot, it’s essential to act fast. Remove your plant from its pot and gently shake off excess soil. Examine the roots carefully, and use sanitized pruning shears to trim away any rotten, mushy, or discolored roots.
Choose a new pot with drainage holes and fill it with fresh, well-draining soil (the mix we outlined above is great). Repot your Calathea ‘White Fusion,’ making sure not to plant it too deeply.
To avoid root rot in the future, water only when the top inch of soil feels dry. Use a well-draining, high-quality potting mix to so the roots can breathe, and use a pot with drainage holes (consider switching to terracotta if you’re using a plastic pot — it’s porous and allows for better water evaporation).
Mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids are common pests that can infest your Calathea ‘White Fusion.’ I’ve had friends claim they’re especially attracted to this cultivar, for some reason.
Mealybugs are small, white, and waxy insects, while aphids appear as small, green, or black bugs that often congregate on the undersides of leaves or at leaf joints. Spider mites are super tiny dots hard to spot with the naked eye, but you’ll spot their webs on the underside of your plant.
To rid your Calathea ‘White Fusion’ of any of these pests, first isolate it so the problem doesn’t spread. Mix a few drops of mild dish soap in a spray bottle with water (or use diluted neem oil instead) and spray the affected areas thoroughly, making sure to get the undersides of leaves (pests like to hide here).
Repeat every 7 to 10 days until the pests are gone, and even for a week afterward to get any pesky eggs.
Growing Calathea ‘White Fusion’ isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Just keep humidity levels high, water it with filtered or rain water, and give it enough indirect bright light, and this plant star will shine.
If you enjoyed this guide, share it with a pal. And do send us photos of your ‘White Fusion’ — we’d love to ooh and aah over it! If you run into issues, ask us questions on Facebook or Twitter any time.
Is Calathea ‘Fusion White’ Rare?
It’s one of the rarer, perhaps the rarest, calathea plants out there right now. It’s relatively new to the plant scene and can be a bit difficult to maintain, so you won’t find it at every plant store.
How do you take care of ‘White Fusion’ Calathea?
Keep that humidity high, above 50%, and those temperatures on the warmer side, 65 to 80°F. Give it bright light, but make sure to filter any direct sun.
Are Calathea ‘White Fusion’ hard to care for?
They can be a little diva-ish until you find out how to keep them happy. Don’t forget to water, don’t overwater (it’s a balance!), and make sure humidity doesn’t get below 50% — the higher, the better!
How big do Calathea ‘White Fusion’ get?
This beauty has large, stunning leaves growing up to 7 inches long by 2.5 inches wide, and can get up to two feet tall.