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How To Care and Grow Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia is native to South America and grows under the tree canopy in dappled sunlight. The orbifolia is suitable for outdoor growth in USDA zones 10 or higher. Calatheas make excellent houseplants provided their specific growing needs are met.

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia Appearance

Calathea orbifolia reaches 3 feet (1 m) tall and width. The plant’s large and round foliage grows to 12 inches (30 cm) long. The leaf tops are marked with pale-silver stripes, while the underside of the leaves are solid pale silver. The blooms are small, white flowers but rarely appear when grown indoors.

Calathea Orbifolia Sunlight Requirements

Provide ample, indirect sunlight, preferably from an East-facing window. Diffused light through sheer curtains is also acceptable. Orbifolia types will not tolerate direct sun as leaves will burn and their color will fade. The plant tolerates some shade but not consistent low lighting throughout the day.

Watering Needs

Calathea orbifolia thrives with consistent watering to keep the soil moist. Before watering, test the soil with your finger. Provide water if the top 1 inch feels dry, ensuring the soil is moist but not soggy. Use filtered or rainwater to avoid leaf spots from minerals and chemicals present in tap water. If tap water must be used, fill a container without a lid and allow the water to sit overnight before use. Chlorine and fluoride present in the water will evaporate.

Temperature and Humidity

Proper Calathea orbifolia care requires temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius) Recommended humidity levels are 60 percent or higher. Avoid hot or cold drafts that damage the foliage but good circulation at room temperature helps stave off molds. Supplement low humidity with a room humidifier or by placing a tray, filled with pebbles and water, under the plant’s pot.

Soil and Fertilization Requirements
Leafy Life

Soil and Fertilization Requirements

Calathea orbifolia requires a well-draining soil. Combine two parts peat with one part perlite to ensure water reaches the roots and does not pool on the surface. Keep the soil’s pH level around 6.5, testing with a home pH kit if you’re unsure. Feed the orbifolia with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength once every two weeks. Fertilize during the spring and summer when growth is high.

Calathea Orbifolia Propagation

Propagate the orbifolia in early spring just as new growth begins. The best time to divide mature plants is when repotting becomes necessary. The roots are fragile, so gently remove the plant from its pot and divide at natural separations in the root system. Repot each division into a new pot filled ⅓ with the recommended soil mix. Keep the new plant in a warm and humid environment. Water the new plants frequently to keep the soil moist and place the plant in low lighting until new growth begins in two to four weeks.

Calathea Orbifolia Pests and Diseases

Common diseases of the orbifolia include white soil mold, powdery mildew, and leaf spot. Correct Calathea orbifolia care, including consistent watering, heat, and humidity, helps reduce the chance of these diseases.

The orbifolia’s common pests include mealybugs, thrips, aphids, and white flies. If an infestation occurs, first wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove as many of the pests as possible. Follow up by treating the plant with neem oil or an insecticidal soap, depending on the pest. 

Calathea orbifolia is known for both its beauty and air purifying qualities. Proper care requires consistent checking for soil moisture and environmental factors. It is not the easiest houseplant to grow but its challenging characteristics make it a sought after plant for many houseplant lovers.

Calathea Orbifolia FAQ
Flora and Fauna 101

Calathea Orbifolia FAQ

Should I Mist My Calathea Orbifolia’s Leaves?

Yes, mist your plant’s leaves three to four times per week to keep them clean and increase the humidity level around the plant.

What Type of Fertilizer Should I Feed My Calathea Orbifolia With?

Use a liquid 3-2-1 houseplant fertilizer. Higher Nitrogen and lower Potassium helps keep the leaf color vibrant and aids with optimal growth.

How Often Should I Repot My Calathea Orbifolia?

The roots of the orbifolia are fragile so repot only when the plant has outgrown its current pot size. This is also a good time to divide mature plants into several smaller ones.

Is Calathea Orbifolia Toxic to Pets?

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

How Can I Keep My Calathea Orbifolia from Becoming Stressed During Propagation?

Water your plant the day before division to reduce plant stress. When dividing, be gentle with the roots and only divide where the plant has created natural separations.