Calathea: Variaties, Growing and Care For Rattlesnake Plant, Zebra Plant

Calathea plants are some of the most popular houseplants. Even though they are not originally meant to be grown indoors, a lot of people decide to do it because it’s not just simple, but fun to do it as well.

In today’s Calathea types and care guide, I am going to talk about what are the most popular Calathea types, and how to care for the Calathea plant in general.

You will learn how to water, propagate, prune, fertilize, and re-pot your Calathea plant in no time! If you are interested in that, let’s not waste time and begin!

Facts About Calathea

Before I mention some of the most common types of Calathea, let’s talk about some general facts about Calathea plants.

  • Calathea plants like to be put in a bright location, but not on a direct light;
  • Soil should always be moderately wet, without having too much, nor too few amount of water;
  • Since Calatheas come from South America, they don’t like cold at all. Always try to keep them in room temperature, on 18-24 degrees Celsius;
  • Calatheas like humidity, so they are great for picking up most of the humidity from the air in your living room or office;
  • These plants don’t require too much fertilizing, since they can grow quite well without it, so you should only fertilize them during the growing season, and when you notice they are getting flowers.

Types of Calathea

Now that we know some basic facts about Calathea plants, let’s mention some of the most common types of Calathea.

There are quite a lot of Calathea types out there, but I will mention 21 best Calathea plants for indoor care.

1. Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia

The first type of Calathea I’m going to mention is also one of the largest species, which is Calathea Orbifolia.

It has quite large leaves, combined with silver stripes, which makes the plant look elegant and appealing to the eye of the observer.

With the look like this and the fact that it is not so hard to care for it, Calathea Orbifolia can be seen in a lot of offices and homes.

2. Calathea Ornata (Pin-Stripe Calathea)

Calathea Ornata (Pin-Stripe Calathea)

More commonly known as pin-stripe Calathea, this plant is very pretty, with the combination of big green leaves and quite distinctive pink stripes.

It’s a great plant to care in your home since it’s not so hard to care for it. Just like most other Calatheas, Ornata also likes high humidity, so even if you water it a bit more than needed, it might not hurt it.

3. Calathea Medallion

Calathea Medallion

Calathea Medallion is another very beautiful specimen, with a couple of distinctive characteristics, which make it appealing to a lot of people.

Its name comes from the shape of the plant’s leaves. They are almost perfectly round, with the light green border and middle, making it look like a real medallion.

4. Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake Plant)

Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake Plant)

When you first see Calathea Lancifolia, you might confuse it with some of the snake plant types, due to the similar leaves.

However, if you know your plants, that probably won’t happen. Lancifolia has long curvy leaves with a beautiful pattern.

When you look at it more closely, it looks similar to the tail of the rattlesnake, which is how this plant got its name.

5. Calathea Musaica (Network Plant)

Calathea Musaica (Network Plant)

Calathea Musaica, otherwise known as Network Plant, comes from South America. More precisely, from Brazil.

It has leaves that have a unique pattern, which looks a lot like a mosaic. It’s how the plant got its name in the first place. Since that pattern also has a pixel shape, the plant is also called Network Plant.

6. Calathea ‘Misto’

Calathea ‘Misto’

Calathea ‘Misto’ has long green leaves, with the striking light green stripe that’s spreading across the entire middle part.

In, general it is very simple to care for this plant, which is one of the reasons it is quite popular and can be seen in many business offices, or living rooms.

7. Calathea White Fusion

Calathea White Fusion

One of the most interesting Calathea plants is Calathea White Fusion, or otherwise known by its original name, Calathea Leitzei.

It has quite a distinctive look, with a unique pattern on the leaves, which resembles some sort of fusion effect, with mixed coloring, including green, silver, and white.

8. Calathea Makoyana (Peacock Plant)

Calathea Makoyana (Peacock Plant)

Calathea Makoyana is one of the most beautiful Calathea plants because of its good-looking silver leaves, with the distinctive green feather pattern in the middle.

Because of its magnificence, it has gotten a nickname Peacock plant, since it will beautify your home and office. Apart from just having good looks, this plant is great when it comes to air purification.

9. Calathea Roseopicta (Rose-Painted Calathea)

Calathea Roseopicta (Rose-Painted Calathea)

If you look at Calathea Roseopicta from the top, it will seem like a common Calathea plant, but once you check its bottom side, you will understand why it has this name.

It features a common mixture of green, pale green, and white on the top side of the leaves, while its bottom is completely pink.

The leaves can get quite large, so this plant is perfect for offices or large living rooms, where its beauty may come to the light.

10. Calathea Freddie

Calathea Freddie

Calathea Freddie is one of the smaller Calathea types, which means you can put it almost anywhere you want.

It features ruffed leaves of a silver color, with beautiful green stripes, and a bit of a curvy look across most of the veins.

Even though this Calathea type is smaller, it also likes to be in similar conditions and to be watered regularly.

11. Calathea Zebrina (Zebra Plant)

Calathea Zebrina (Zebra Plant)

One of the most famous Calathea plants is definitely Calathea Zebrina, or how common people like to call it, Zebra plant.

It can grow up to 1 meter in height and has quite large and long leaves with distinctive green color, and zebra-like pattern across the entire area.

Since Zebra plants can grow quite a lot, you will probably need to re-pot it from time to time, most likely every couple of years.

12. Calathea Rufibarba (Furry Feather Calathea)

Calathea Rufibarba (Furry Feather Calathea)

Another unique type of Calathea is Calathea Rufibarba. It’s also known by a couple of other names, such as Velvet Calathea, or Furry Feather Calathea.

It’s called that because it has really short hairs on the leaves, which give the leaves a bit of a waxy feeling on the touch.

It has long leaves with a mix of a green and dark blue color, with the deep purple bottom side of the leaf, making it look quite elegant.

13. Calathea Warscewiczii

Calathea Warscewiczii

Calathea Warscewiczii is one of the Calatheas with the hardest-to-pronounce names. Luckily, it is also called Calathea Jungle Velvet.

It originates from the Central and South American region, and if properly cared, can grow quite a lot, up to 4 feet.

Due to its location of origin, this plant mostly likes very humid locations and being grown at room temperature.

14. Calathea Triostar

Calathea Triostar

If you would mix several types of Calatheas we had mentioned before, you would get something close to Calathea Triostar.

It has extremely distinctive leaves, with a unique mix of three different colors, such as green, pink, and white.

Calathea Triostar comes from the deep Amazon forests, which means that pretty much the same as most other Calatheas, it also likes humid areas.

15. Calathea Concinna

Calathea Concinna

Calathea Concinna is quite similar to Zebrina and Freddie. In fact, it is often mistaken for either one or another.

It has similar leaves with a thicker zebra pattern. Concinna can grow in a room, where the temperature is about 19-27 degrees Celsius.

16. Calathea Crocata (Eternal Flame)

Calathea Crocata (Eternal Flame)

Calathea Crocata is easily recognizable because it is one of the Calathea types that can produce beautiful yellow flowers with an orange flavor, which gives it the look of a torch flame. They usually last for a couple of months.

Leaves are also a sight for a sore eye, since they have a distinctive metallic-like look, with nice green coloring from the top, and purple bottom, combined with a bit of brown color.

17. Calathea Veitchiana

Calathea Veitchiana

Calathea Veitchiana is one of the largest species of the Calathea plants, with its round and quite big leave, which can make it a bit harder to care for this plant because leaves could be very easily damaged.

Like most other types of Calatheas, Veitchiana also likes soil that can offer good draining capabilities, as well as locations with moderate indirect light.

18. Calathea Louisae

Calathea Louisae

Calathea Louisae is yet another Calathea plant that comes from Brazil, but it can also be seen in other places.

It can grow up to 80 cm in height, with beautiful pale and dark green leaves, which can be about 20 cm in length, and 10 cm in width.

19. Calathea Dottie

Calathea Dottie

As a special variety of Calathea Roseopicta, there is Calathea Dottie, which is easily one of the prettiest Calathea plants.

It has very distinctive dark purple leaves, with unique-looking pink ring-like patterns and stripes in the middle. Calathea Dottie grows pretty fast, and it can grow up to 60 cm in height.

20. Calathea Vittata

Calathea Vittata

Calathea Vittata is one of the cultivated Calathea species, originating from Colombia. It is one of the smaller Calatheas since it can reach a height of 60 cm.

Its green leaves have the shape of an eclipse, as well as pretty neat white stripes, making the plant look very pretty.

21. Calathea Lutea

Calathea Lutea

Calathea Lutea, otherwise known as Cigar Calathea, Havana Cigar, and Cuban Cigar is definitely one of the tallest, and generally speaking, largest Calatheas. It can easily grow up to 2-3 meters.

It has huge leaves, that look like a paddle. However, the most distinctive characteristic of this Calathea is its long brown flower, which looks like a Cuban cigar, hence the name.

Calathea Care

Now it’s time to get to the fun part and cover the basics of Calathea care, after which you will be ready to grow your own Calathea with ease.

Soil

When it comes to the soil selection for your Calathea plant, I personally haven’t found any soil that is specifically meant just for Calatheas.

However, there are a couple of other choices you can use, such as African violet soil, or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, which are both quite versatile choices for indoor plants.

If you are confident enough to make your own potting mix instead, here are some general tips that could help you with that.

To make a successful mix by yourself, you will need:

  • 30% of eco-friendly potting soil, which is completely without peat;
  • 25% of perlite or you can even use pumice;
  • 25% of coir chips, to increase the soil’s drainage capabilities;
  • 15% of Hydrodrain, which is used to raise up the level of humidity;
  • Instead of Hydrodrain, you can use 5% charcoal, to get the same effect, but be careful not to put too much, or it might cause serious harm to your plant.

Fertilizer

As stated above, Calathea plants do not require a lot of fertilizing. However, when you decide to do it, you should do it properly.

Proper Calathea fertilization will give the soil some minerals it might be missing, while also improving the overall condition of the soil itself in the process.

To save some time and effort, fertilize your Calathea plant only during warm months, usually in spring and summer. There is no need to fertilize it in winter at all.

When it comes to the frequency of the fertilization process, it can be done every couple of weeks. In case you notice that your Calathea doesn’t have growth issues, you can reduce your fertilization efforts.

As one important notice, you should know that it is not a good idea to fertilize newly propagated Calathea. Instead, you should wait and only do it when you notice new foliage on the plant. It could take about a couple of weeks for that to happen, so be patient.

Sun & Light

Since Calathea’s natural habitat are South American jungles, where there is not too much direct light, it likes to be grown in locations where there is a quite low or perhaps medium amount of light.

If put closer to the window without curtains, for instance, sunlight might cause harm to your Calathea plant.

The best location would be to put the plant in some shady corner, where there is some indirect light, but which is also covered by shade.

Water

Since Calathea plants like humidity, they might need more water than some other plants. They like to always have moderately moist soil.

Therefore, even if you overwater your Calathea a bit, you don’t have to worry straight away. However, if you continue that practice, it might hurt the plant, and cause root rot.

So, you might ask when is the right time to water Calathea plants then?

The best way to know the right time to water it is to simply check the soil itself. When the first couple of centimeters (1-2 cm) of the soil are completely dry, it is definitely the right time to water your Calathea.

Depending on the season, climate, and some other factors, you might need to water it every couple of days, or every couple of weeks.

As for the type of water you should use to water the Calathea plant, it would be best to use clean filtered water. Tap water is also fine, but in that case, you should leave it for about a day before using it to water the plant.

The reason for that is because tap water is usually colder, which is not good for Calatheas. Also, there are a lot of chemicals in tap water, which might cause some harm to the plant.

Therefore, you can either buy a water filter, clean your tap water, or simply get distilled water from the nearby store.

Humidity & Temperature

As for the perfect temperature, Calatheas enjoy being at a moderate temperature, not too high, nor too low.

The best temperature to keep your Calathea is 18-23 degrees Celsius, which is usually room temperature.

Also, keep in mind that Calatheas don’t like cold weather, so never put it outside during winter months, or if the temperature drops under 15 degrees Celsius.

Even though they are jungle plants, Calatheas also hate too high temperature, so never expose them to a temperature higher than 30 degrees Celsius.

If we talk about humidity, it’s good to know that Calatheas enjoy a very humid environment, up to 50-60% of air humidity.

This means that you should never put them near the ventilation shafts, or AC since the air near those is usually dry.

They are great to be put in a room without AC, so they can absorb most of the air humidity and keep the air clean.

Repotting

Some Calathea plants can grow a bit faster, while some don’t have the tendency to do so. In general, you will need to re-pot Calatheas about every couple of years.

The most common reason for that is because the roots got too big for the current pot, or because you want to replace the soil.

One of the key things to remember when repotting Calathea is to choose a pot with a good drainage system.

Before you start the repotting process, make sure to water the plant the previous day. This will soften the soil, making it easier to be removed.

Once that is done, simply take out the soil from the pot, and pull out the plant, while also removing any remaining soil on the roots. That will allow you to examine the plant and see if there are any problems.

Then, put the plant in the new pot, with about one-third of the new soil, then add rest, and gently tuck in the plant, so it would be stable. Once done, it might take a couple of weeks for the plant to resume growing.

Pruning

Some Calatheas are quite large, but most of them will not be over 2 feet in size, meaning that pruning is usually not required.

You will mostly need to prune Calathea plants when there are some dead parts, or diseased leaves, in order to prevent the infection from spreading.

Propagation

The two most common ways of propagating Calathea plants are by separation and with seeds. Seed propagation is a bit trickier since it is very hard to find Calathea seeds.

Propagation by separation is relatively simple and similar to the repotting process. The only additional thing to do is to, once roots are cleared of any excess soil, find a place where roots are naturally separated, then simply use your hands to split the plant into two or more specimens.

Once that is done, put them in their new pots, and continue with the regular care. New growths should appear after a couple of weeks.

Propagation with seeds is a bit more complicated since first, you need to find a trusted supplier, who won’t cheat you and sell you fake seeds.

If you manage to do so, use the starting mix in a tray or pot and put the seeds at around 1 cm in the soil. Use the bottle with a spray attachment to spray some water on them, and place the pot in the location with the indirect light.

After you notice new seedlings are almost 3 cm in size, simply put them in the individual pots and resume regular care.

Pests

When caring about Calatheas, you won’t have to worry about pests too much, since they can only be attacked by quite regular pests, such as mites, scales, mealybugs, and aphids.

These pests are relatively simple to deal with, even just with water, and some common pesticides, if you think it’s necessary.

Diseases

Calathea plants rarely get any diseases, but they can be attacked by the following infections:

  • Fungus – which can occur if you water your plant too much. It can be dealt with a simple fungicide;
  • Cucumber mosaic virus – it’s recognizable by the yellow spots and wrinkly leaves. It won’t kill the plant, but if you propagate it, new growths will inherit the infection, which ruins the beautiful looks of your Calathea;
  • Pseudomonas blight – is one of the fatal diseases that might hit Calathea plants. You can recognize it by seeing spots on the leaves. The only solution is to ditch the plant completely.

Conclusion

That was everything I’ve wanted to tell you about Calathea types and care. I hoped you enjoyed the article, and I’m sure you now have enough knowledge to care for your own Calathea plant.

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