Calathea Burle Marx Care Made Easy!

Without a doubt, the Calathea Burle Marx is a stunning plant with so much to offer. This beautiful houseplant has striped, oval-shaped leaves that alternate between dark and light green. It is also known for having a slight icy blue tinge to its leaves, which is why it is often called the “blue ice plant”.

In fact, this tropical plant originates from Brazil and goes by a variety of names. Some of these include: Calathea Burle Armii ‘Burle Marx’, Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii, Calathea Burle-Marxii, Calathea Amabilis, Stromanthe Amabilis, Fishbone Prayer Plant, and the Calathea Fishbone.

While not a technically rare plant, it is highly sought after for its attractive look.

If you are lucky enough to find one of these, do your best to take care of it! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Calathea Burle Marx care.

How to Care For a Calathea Burle Marx?

As you might be able to guess from its tropical origins, this plant highly values light and humidity!

We will get into the specifics of care, but you should be able to guarantee bright, indirect sunlight and at least 60% humidity. In addition, well-draining soil will pull it all together to let your Calathea Burle Marx flourish!

calathea burle marx plant


Light is one of the most essential aspects of plant care. With this plant in particular, you want bright but indirect sunlight.

The best way to secure this is by filtering light through a window, curtains, and even other plants before it reaches the Calathea Burle Marx.

You can also place the plant in a northern or eastern-facing window, where it will access indirect sunlight all day!

Indirect sunlight is essential to protect the unique leaf pattern of this gorgeous plant. If you’re worried about judging the sunlight correctly, consider buying a light meter.

This measures the sunlight of a room in FCs, or foot candles. For this plant, the correct amount of FCs will be about 400.

Best Soil and Mixture Type

Soil can be often overlooked in the plant care process, but it is actually essential. The Calathea Burle Marx needs soil that can retain moisture while still draining well.

Without this balance, the plant can either suffer from underwatering or become waterlogged. In order to secure the best type of soil for this plant, look out for the following elements:

  • Peat, in order to increase moisture retention
  • Perlite, in order to assist with drainage
  • Coco coir, an additive that can help with absorbency
  • Sand, coconut husks, or orchid bark as coarse matter to help with water drainage

These elements can help guarantee good, well-draining soil. Consider a mixture that is two-thirds peat to one-third perlite as the ideal.

You can even add these elements yourself in order to create the perfect mixture for your Burle Marx!


It should not surprise anyone that this tropical plant needs humidity! In fact, this is one of the most essential aspects of Calathea Burle Marx care.

A highly humid environment with at least 60% humidity will allow this plant to flourish and grow beautifully. This doesn’t mean that your entire home or apartment needs to be humid – you can choose one room or area for this plant to reside.

Consider using a humidifier or even other plants to naturally increase the humidity. If the overall humidity drops out of the ideal range, you will notice signs such as crispy leaves and brown spots.

If that is the case, place the plant in a place like the kitchen or the bathroom where humidity is more likely to occur.


The Calathea Burle Marx does need a bit more attention when it comes to watering, but don’t let that intimidate you! This plant needs to be watered year-round, but you should be watering more actively in the growing season of summer and spring.

A good rule of thumb is to water the soil to the point of moisture without saturating it.

Don’t let your plant dry out between waterings. Instead, feel the soil past the top layer and water it once it is no longer moist.

This will probably amount to watering once a week, but you will learn your own specific schedule as long as you feel the soil and water whenever it begins to dry.

Finally, you will probably lengthen the time between waterings during the winter. This is because the plant is not actively growing, so you may go over a week without needing to water again.

Keep an eye out for signs of underwatering like drooping leaves and discoloration, and you and your Calathea Burle Marx will be just fine!


Temperature needs to be consistent and warm to care for this tropical plant! The ideal range for this plant will be between 65°F to 75°F, or 18°C to 24°C.

Although it can tolerate higher temperatures, the same is not true for low temperatures. Even shocks of cold, like being placed near a door or air conditioner can be enough to stunt the calathea’s growth.

Don’t let the overall temperature drop below 60°F (15°C) for long periods of time. The best thing you can do is keep the overall temperature in your home at the ideal range, or at least keep a specific room at the ideal temperature!


Many plant owners overlook fertilizer, but it can truly help take your Calathea Burle Marx to the next level! You should utilize fertilizer once a month during the active growing season but can take a break during the fall and winter months.

Here are some essential nutrients to look out for to find the best fertilizer:

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Nitrogen
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen are essential for fertilizer. Elements like calcium and magnesium are helpful additions, but not as important as the first three on the list.

With these components, you should have an easy time growing a stunning Calathea Burle Marx!

Size & Growth

The Calathea Burle Marx is relatively slow-growing, and it will need at least two seasons of growth to reach full maturity. The leaves also fan out, meaning that the plant can appear wider than you might initially expect.

These breathtaking leaves will take up the majority of the size of the plant, so make room in a corner or secluded area to let your Burle Marx shine!

Clustering with other plants can improve humidity and filter light, but the plant should also have room to grow.

You can expect the plant to reach about 12” inches in length, especially with proper care. The leaves can expand to an overall length of about 20” inches, so you should be prepared to make room accordingly.

The majority of the growth will occur during the two summers, so you can watch and take note of how your plant is growing.


As a general rule of thumb, this plant will need to be repotted every other year. This lets you wait and take note of the most essential aspects of plant care before each repotting session.

When it comes time to pot every other year, check the drainage holes of the pot and see if the roots of the plant are poking out. If so, it is time to repot.

Pick a new pot that is only a few inches bigger than your old one. Too much space can be just as harmful as too little!

Fill the new pot with the same type of soil and simply transfer the plant from one pot to the other, taking care to cover up the roots and base of the Burle Marx.

Best Ways to Propagate a Calathea Burle Marx

Propagation is a great way to create a new (and equally stunning) Calathea Burle Marx from your original one! It may seem fancy, but it is actually quite easy to do on your own once you get the hang of it.

The best way to propagate your Calathea Burle Marx is by division. Don’t worry – let’s walk through everything you need to know!

First, you should prepare to propagate in the spring. This is when the plant is actively growing, so both the original and the new cutting can have a better chance of growing well.

Next, gather the following supplies: a 4” inch pot for the new division, a clean and sterile knife or garden shears, and a pair of gloves if you need them. Once you have those, follow these steps!

How to Propagate (Step-by-Step)

  1. Wear the gloves if you prefer. Lift the mature plant out of the pot, taking extra care with the roots.
  2. Examine the roots of the mature plant, searching for the natural separations. Identify a small section of roots and gently separate it from the rest with your fingers. Make sure the section has two to three stems included.
  3. Using your clean knife or garden shears, complete the separation of the identified section. Include the attached stems and leaves.
  4. Place the new cutting into the 4” inch pot. Place the soil to completely cover the roots, just like repotting your original plant. Afterwards, repot the original plant.

With these simple steps, you can look forward to having a brand new Calathea Burle Marx in no time! Just give the new cutting special care for the first few weeks, and hopefully the active growth will take over. If you wish, you can even repeat this process every season!

Plant Toxicity

The Calathea Burle Marx is non-toxic to dogs, cats, and children.

It should still not be ingested, but there should be no severe side effects aside from slight nausea if accidentally eaten.

The plant should still be kept out of reach of pets and children to lessen the chance of damage, but toxicity is not something you need to be worried about.

Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For

Finally, we need to review some of the most common pests and diseases. These can act fast, so you should be able to identify them and act even faster!

The primary pests that you will need to worry about are spider mites and mealybugs, both of which are small insects that can damage your leaves.

In both cases, you may notice small clusters of insects or even holes in the leaves. Gently wash the leaves with warm water to rinse off the pests, and follow with an insecticide like neem oil to keep them away. The primary disease you’ll be fighting is fungal rot or root rot. This can be deadly, so time is of the essence.

You’ll want to cut away all of the infected areas, either on the leaves or in the roots. Throw away the used soil and rinse the pot in a bleach solution to kill the bacteria. Lastly, place the plant in new, fresh soil and watch for a return.


Now that we have gone over some of the more common aspects of Calathea Burle Marx care, let’s cover the most frequently asked questions.

These can help clear up any final misconceptions as you begin your journey as the proud owner of a Calathea Burle Marx!

Calathea Burle Marx vs Philodendron Burle Marx – What’s the Difference?

Although they share the same name, the Calathea Burle Marx and the Philodendron Burle Marx are not the same!

The Calathea has a distinctive striped pattern, while the Philodendron has leaves of a solid green. The shapes and textures also differ. This is because they belong to different plant families!

Q. Calathea Burle Marx vs Ctenanthe Plant (Never Never Plant) – What’s the difference?

You might remember from the start of this article that the Calathea Burle Marx is also sometimes known as the Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii.

This is because the Calathea Burle Marx is actually a type of Ctenanthe plant, with both belonging to the Arrowroots family. There is no true difference, but rather a different name!

Regardless, the Calathea Burle Marx is a gorgeous plant that you will surely treasure!

photo of Charlotte Bailey founder of Oh So Garden


Charlotte Bailey

Charlotte is a Qualified Royal Horticultural Society Horticulturist, plant conservationist, and founder of Oh So Garden. Armed with a background in Plant Science (BSc Hons, MSc) and 5 years of hands-on experience in the field, her in-depth guides are read by over 100,000 people every month.

For her work, she's been awarded the title of Yale Young Global Scholar, and been featured as a garden and houseplant expert across major networks and national publications such as Homes and Garden, Best Life, Gardeningetc,, BHG, Real Homes, and Country Living. You can find her on Linkedin.

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