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Calathea Lancifolia: Foliage to Fall For

Calathea lancifolia, also known as the  Rattlesnake plant, is native to Brazil. The plant experiences a moderate growth rate in the spring and summer months. While not considered a plant for beginner house plant enthusiasts, it is a rewarding challenge for those who provide the right growing conditions.

Calathea Lancifolia

Calathea Lancifolia Appearance

Calathea lancifolia features wavy-edged leaves with variegated-green tops and undersides of purplish-red. Small, yellow blooms appear in late spring but rarely happen when grown indoors. The plant reaches a height of 1.6 feet (19.2 cm) at maturity. Do not use commercial leaf-shine products to clean the foliage. Instead, use a cloth dampened with only water to clean leaves and avoid brown spots.

Calathea Lancifolia Sunlight Requirements

Provide Calathea lancifolia with filtered sunlight through sheer drapes or indirect light several feet from a sunny window. Avoid intense, afternoon sun as this burns the foliage and fades its variegated pattern. The plant also grows well in terrariums or greenhouses if not in full sun.

Watering Needs
The Spruce

Watering Needs

Calathea lancifolia requires frequent, small waterings to keep the soil moist. Water more frequently in the spring and summer growing season and less in the fall and winter. Drain excess water collected in the drip tray to avoid root rot in your Calathea rattlesnake plant. Leaf drop is a sign of too much moisture, while curling leaves indicate too little water.

Temperature and Humidity

The rattlesnake plant prefers temperatures of between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 24 degrees Celsius) for optimal growth. Leaf wilting or dropped foliage indicates insufficient moisture. Humidity levels at 60 percent or higher help to avoid browning of the leaves’ edges. Raise low humidity levels by placing a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath Calathea lancifolia’s pot. Avoid placing the Calathea rattlesnake near hot or cold drafts, such as heat vents or air conditioners.

Soil and Fertilizer Requirements

Calathea lancifolia requires a well-draining soil mixture. Use an African Violet mix or combine 2 parts peat with 1 part perlite. A proper ratio allows the water to soak through the soil with no pooling on the surface. The soil’s pH should be slightly acidic to neutral but never alkaline.  Feed your plant once a month during the spring and summer with a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ strength. 

Calathea Lancifolia Propagation

Calathea Lancifolia Propagation
Leafy Life

Division by propagation is recommended for Calathea lancifolia once a plant matures and outgrows its current pot. Water the plant the day before division to reduce stress. Lay the pot on its side and gently remove the mature plant. Separate the root ball at natural divisions, ensuring each new plant has a healthy root ball attached. Trim damaged or diseased foliage and roots using sharp, sterile shears. Fill a suitable-sized pot ⅓ full with potting soil and some perlite for drainage. Place each new plant into its pot and backfill with the same soil mixture. Water the plant until moisture runs through the pot’s drainage holes. Place the pot in the same lighting and temperature conditions as the mother plant originated. 

Calathea Lancifolia Pests and Disease

Common pests associated with Calathea lancifolia are mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. The large leaves of the Calathea rattlesnake make it more susceptible to infestations than other Calathea plants. Inspect the underside of leaves if you suspect their presence. Use an insecticidal soap or neem oil, as directed, to correct the problem. 

Limp or rotting stems, as well as root rot, are common diseases of the rattlesnake plant. Overwatering the plant, exposure to drafts, and watering in low temperatures are common causes of these diseases. To correct the issues, water only until the soil is moist, but not soggy, during the warmest part of the day. Move plants away from temperature fluctuations and into a consistent, warm environment.

While Calathea lancifolia rarely blooms, it is prized for its large, unique foliage. It prefers high temperatures and moderate lighting. Despite its specific care needs, it makes an excellent houseplant for those willing to put in the effort. 

Calathea Lancifolia FAQ

Will Calathea Lancifolia Grow Outdoors?

Yes, the rattlesnake plant will grow outdoors in USDA zones 11b to 12b if kept out of full sun. 

Is Calathea Lancifolia Toxic to Pets?

No, all types of Calathea are considered safe for pets.

Can Calathea Lancifolia Grow in Water?

No, all Calathea plants are susceptible to root and stem rot if exposed to excessive moisture. Instead, grow your Calathea rattlesnake in a well-draining, peat-based soil mix. Treat root rot from overwatering, treat the plant by pruning affected roots and the use of hydrogen peroxide.

Will My Calathea Lancifolia Bloom Indoors?

Blooming indoors is rare for all Calathea plants, but not impossible. Given the exact moisture, lighting, temperature, and humidity conditions your plant may boom as a houseplant. 

How do I prune Calathea Lancifolia?

Prune dead leaves or crispy edges with a sharp pair of sterilized shears. Remove the dying leaves or leaf parts to allow the plant direct its energy into healthy foliage growth.