Discovered by chance by Taiyan Yam in a commercial nursery in Malaysia in 2007, the Calathea White Fusion (or Goeppertia lietzei “White Fusion” or “Fusion White”) is a beautiful and stable hybrid mutation of a Goeppertia lietzei.
(Note on naming: A large subset of Calatheas, including Calathea lietzei, were reclassified as Goeppertia in 2012 due to new genetic analysis; however, they are still referred to as Calatheas by enthusiasts, or commonly as zebra plants, peacock plants, and rattlesnake plants.)
Whichever name you call them, these plants are characterized by their beautiful watercolor-like, variegated marbled green and white-colored leaves, often with magenta-hued undersides and stems. They also exhibit prayer plant motions (i.e. clasping up at night and unfurling during the morning), characteristic of the Marantaceae family.
Calathea White Fusion Care
Native the tropical Americas such as the rainforests of Brazil or Colombia, this rare cultivar can grow up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall and 18 inches wide (45 cm), making them the perfect compact potted houseplant.
Calathea White Fusion plants are notoriously fussy plants, and their delicate white leaves are prone to bruising, discoloration, and dry patches.
With deliberate attention, these sought after plants will delight you with their exotic leaves and daily motion.
Calatheas thrive best in well-draining, airy, and moist soil such as African Violet soil.
Alternatively, use regular potting soil mixed with 50% organic matter in equal parts from peat moss, orchid bark, and/or perlite (to help with drainage). A little bit of charcoal (5%) will also help maintain an ideal pH of 6.5.
Since they are slow-growers, White Fusions will require repotting at most once every year (or two) to replenish the soil.
Calatheas are not drought-tolerant so be sure to water when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry (~once a week during summers, and less often during winters).
Use unfiltered water, as Calatheas are sensitive to hard salts and fluoride often found in tap water.
Growing naturally under rainforest tree canopies in the wild, these plants prefer bright indirect sunlight. Place them near an east- or west-facing window behind curtains, or a few feet away from a south-facing window for ideal lighting conditions. If planting outside, be sure to give them plenty of shade.
Humidity & Temperature
Try to keep humidities above 50% by using a pebble tray or humidifier in non-humid climates. In their natural jungle habits, ideal humidities reach 75-85%.
Calatheas thrive in moderately warm temperatures between 60-80°F (15-26°C). Avoid temperatures below 55°F (12°C) and higher than 90°F (32°C).
Covered in dense foliage, Calatheas prefer nitrogen-rich fertilizers for leaf growth, but a well-balanced and diluted house plant liquid fertilizer is sufficient. Feed once a month in spring and summer, and do not fertilize in the winter.
Calathea White Fusions are best propagated via root division. To propagate, gently unpot and cleave the plant in half along the natural root divisions before repotting in separate pots.
Calatheas tend to clump together at the roots, but some gentle finger work should allow you to pull them apart without too much root damage. Propagate mature plants during the spring for best results, and water thoroughly the day before to reduce plant stress.
Diseases & Pests
Similar to other Calatheas, White Fusions are susceptible to bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases such as leaf spots, wilting, and blight. To prevent, avoid overhead watering and pooling water, and be sure to regularly wipe off dust from leaves with a damp cloth.
Common pests that affect these plants include worms, nematodes, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, shore flies, and slugs. To control, avoid soggy soil, use well-draining pots, and spray with pesticides or regular dishwashing soap and water solution.
According to the ASPCA, Calithea plants such as the White Fusion are non-toxic to both pets and humans.
Calathea White Fusion Issues
Yellowing leaves and mushy stems are a sign of overwatering, which may cause root rot. Wilting, curling, drooping leaves, and browning tips are signs of underwatering and low humidity (make sure to keep humidities above 50%, or closer to 75-85%).
Too much direct sunlight will also cause burning and dry spots to form.
Alternatively, low-light situations will cause the plants to turn green, losing their signature variegation.
How to revive a Calathea White Fusion
For overwatered plants, replant in a fresh terracotta pot and use well-draining soil.
Wilting or drooping plants should be placed in high humidity areas such as a bathroom or kitchen, next to a humidifier, or above a water pebble tray. Regular misting may help as well.
For lost variegation, place in areas with the brightest indirect lighting, and prune un-variegated leaves.
Calathea White Fusion vs. Stromanthe Triostar
The Stromanthe Triostar has more pointy, elongated, and oval-shaped leaves vs. the more tapered, wider, and serrated oval leaves on White Fusions. Triostar leaves will also have pink variegation on their leaves and stems vs. more purple coloring on the White Fusion.
Both plants belong to the Marantaceae family, and will exhibit the characteristic prayer-like motions. White Fusions are also notorious for being more difficult to care for than other plants in this family.