Peacock Plant, Cathedral Windows
The Peacock Plant earned this moniker for the striking peacock designs on its leaves that almost resemble fern fronds growing inside of the leaves. Just like its animal counterpart, it is bright and showy with its colorful patterns. Next to the Calathea ornata and Calathea roseopicta, the Calathea makoyana is one of the most recognizable members of the Prayer Plant family.
The popularity of this plant increased at the same time as the houseplant and terrarium craze started to take hold. As beautiful as this plant is, a Calathea of any species can require a lot more care and observation than most, so prepare to monitor it frequently each day if you want to successfully raise your own Peacock Plant.
At a Glance
Where to Buy Calathea makoyana
See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links).
Terrarium Plant Guide
Calathea makoyana Care & Growth
Do you remember the children’s story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Well, think of the Peacock Plant as Goldilocks – it needs just enough but not too much light, or it will do the plant equivalent of spitting out and whining about its porridge.
Both direct light and low levels of light can slow or stunt the Calathea makoyana’s growth, so you have to find a happy medium through trial and error in your home.
Cathedral Windows are thirsty plants that may need moisture more often than the average houseplant, so a tropical terrarium is a great fit. Achieving a water balance where the substrate is consistently on the damp side is the best way to provide this plant with regular moisture.
Finding the proper substrate, or combination of various additives, is another area where this plant can be tricky to care for. The Calathea makoyana needs its soil to retain moisture well while still providing good drainage. Once you find a good fit for your plant, you may then need to keep an eye on the health of your other plants in the terrarium because the Peacock Plant is known to be a species and may greedily sap all the good nutrients from the substrate and leave little for anyone else.
Temperature & Humidity
The Cathedral Windows plant likes a warm, humid environment free of unpredictable changes in temperature or drafts. Thankfully, its ideal environment is your average room temperatures (or slightly warmer) and as humid as 80%, though it can survive lower humidity (e.g. 40%) in a one-off situation. As with many other Calathea species, it can be finicky as an average houseplant, but adjusts more easily to closed terrariums instead.
The Calathea makoyana is known to grow in accordance with its environment, adjusting to the size of its new space by becoming comfortable with staying small or slightly root bound when necessary. This species of plant stays relatively compact, even as it matures and expands, and while it isn’t often that you will see the tiny white flowers that bloom from this plant, it’s certainly not impossible!
It is very common for members of the Prayer Plant family to be best propagated using the root division method, which involves uprooting the plant entirely and gently dividing its root system into smaller portions. Each “new” plant can then be repotted right away and will begin to fill out their terrarium or container over time. Who could possibly complain about having more plants?
Varieties & Similar Plants
As we mentioned before, the Calathea makoyana comes from the Marantaceae family and shares many similarities with other Calathea or Maranta species. Other popular Prayer Plants can share the same deep purple undersides and dark to light green patterns on their leaves, or they can even come in varieties that are black like the Calathea roseopicta “Dottie” or with long skinny leaves like the Calathea lancifolia, also known as the Rattlesnake Plant.
With everything we’ve touched on here, its quite apparent that the Peacock Plant can be an intensely finicky plant, even in a closed terrarium. That’s not to say that this plant can’t be grown indoors – millions of them are living happily inside – it just comes with a learning curve. It takes time to find the perfect balance of temperature, a good soil, and ideal watering schedule for this Calathea. Luckily, one of the things this plant has going for it is its resilience to pests! So, it’s not all hard work and elbow grease!