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I have a "calathea mix" (that's what the label says) that's supposed to look very much like this: Calathea mix It is supposed to have wavy leaf-edges and a nice, rich red coloured underside.

But it actually looks very sad, with leaves sometimes rolling up, and all brown around the edges. New leaves keep growing, but often they start to go brown before they even come out of their little rolled-up baby stage.

Sad leaves 1 Sad leaves 2

I've tried watering more, watering less, spraying with water, repotting, adding draining... why can't I keep this plant alive??

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Your plant is Calathea crocata, which often has the common name Eternal Flame because of the orange flowers it produces. 'Eternal' flame is absolutely a misnomer in my experience - if you buy it in flower, its very hard to get it to flower again, or at all if not in flower when purchased, though when growing well, the leaves are attractive in their own right.

The problem is it likes very high humidity, constant warmth, but no sunlight - the humidity it requires is very, very difficult to achieve in heated homes. I did grow one of these some years ago, but as soon as winter arrived and the heating went on, mine did exactly what yours has done, developed brown edges to the leaves. Although it didn't finish up looking like yours does in the last image, I disposed of it after winter was over because all the brown edges were highly unattractive. This is a good plant for large terrariums, or steamy greenhouses. Information can be found here:Calathea crocata.

If you can find some way of providing the high humidity and constant warmth, then perhaps it will put out new leaves. Frequent misting, along with standing in a wide shallow tray filled with pebbles and water, kept topped up, stand the pot on top of the pebbles, though not sitting in the water, are things which will help provide the humidity it requires, along with keeping it in a warm, bright room that does not get too cold at night. Otherwise it's probably not worth keeping, sad to say.

  • Thanks for the great advice. The no sunlight thing is interesting. I certainly had no idea it could flower! I'll go for regular misting and no sunlight. – LondonRob Jan 6 '18 at 14:50
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    @LondonRob no sunlight, yes, but it needs good daylight - and keep it well away from heat sources like radiators and some electrical equipment – Bamboo Jan 6 '18 at 14:55
  • Phew, what a sensitive beast! Thanks again. – LondonRob Jan 6 '18 at 15:25

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