Calathea Orbifolia is a timeless addition to any space, growing more popular by the day thanks to its oblong leaves that feature thick, silvery gray and green brushstroke patterns.
Calathea Oribifolia care can be demanding – that’s why this guide will cover everything you need to know about caring for your new statement piece.
Names: Calathea Orbifolia, Round-Leaf Calathea, Prayer Plant (family)
Origin: This plant comes from the rainforests of Central and South American, so imagine jungles, light filtering through the trees, and high humidity.
This plant is a cultivar, which means the original plant has made offspring that will continue essential characteristics of the original but does have differences such as color, resistance to pests, and so on.
Also named the Round-Leaf Calathea, these plants can be fussy once their desired climate has changed, making this rare breed of the Calathea family challenging to find outside its original humid home because people struggle to meet all their needs.
Recently, it was reclassified and renamed Geoppertia Orbifolia, but we will stick with its first name.
Quick Calathea Orbifolia Care Breakdown
- Soil: well-draining
- Light: indirect
- Watering: kept damp
- Temperature: 65-75 ˚F
- Humidity: at least 50% or higher
How to Care for Calathea Orbifolia
Medium, bright, indirect sunlight will be your plant’s best chance at thriving. Coming from the thick layers of the rainforest, the Calathea will complain about too much direct sunlight by losing their distinct markings.
Direct sunlight is the most common reason for a Calathea orbifolia to wilt and die.
Choose a well-draining indoor plant potting mix. Drainage will prevent root rot. You will want to create a soil mixture that retains some moisture, but you never want it to become soggy or waterlogged.
A suggested potting soil mixture: two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark. Perlite is recommended because it helps with drainage.
Plants need fertilizer to supplement nutrients they cannot make themselves. The ideal time to fertilize a plant is during the spring and summer months, when the plants are actively growing.
Using a balanced indoor fertilizer once a month and diluting it with water, so it is only one-quarter strength, will do the trick.
During the months you are fertilizing your plant, thoroughly drench your plant during waterings to help flush the soil. This will wash away excess salts that would have burned the orbifolia roots.
Remember, the Calathea orbifolia comes from tropical places, so it needs increased humidity, and the average indoor air moisture levels are usually too dry.
There are several options to keep your plant happy:
- Humidifier every other day
- Pebble trays
- Misting once a day
- Placing plant by other plants (transpiration)
A pebble water tray is simply a tray full of pebbles and contains water. Excess water will run off your plant, which will later be used as the plant needs.
Orbifolia prefers filtered water, distilled, or rainwater over tap water, once again showcasing its high-maintenance lifestyle. It loves moisture, but waterlogged soil will be the downfall of it.
Poke your finger one inch into your Calathea soil – if it is dry, thoroughly water it by drenching the soil until water leaks from the holes in the pot’s base. Give some drip time to allow excess water to drain before putting your plant back on the drip tray.
This plant surprisingly survives drought conditions better than overwatering.
Indoors the ideal temperature is between 65˚F and 75˚F. Keep your Calathea orbifolia away from spots such as open windows, air vents, and radiators to lessen the risk of fungal root decay from sudden temperature changes.
Size and Growth
Indoors and under the precise conditions, Calathea orbifolia can grow as tall as 3 feet, with striking leaves that can expand from 8 to 15 inches in width.
The large, beautiful leaves absorb light, which increases their growth rates. That does mean that with less light, the plant’s growth will be slower.
Your Orbifolia will not like to be repotted, but it is necessary when the plant becomes rootbound. Look for clues that it needs repotting, like roots growing out of the drainage holes and signs of rot when you’ve been giving it ideal conditions.
Every other year is the sweet spot for how often this is done. The Rhizome division method is suggested:
- The next pot needs to be about 2 inches larger than the current pot
- Carefully remove the root ball
- Fill the new pot halfway with soil and put your plant in
- Lightly fill the rest of the space with the remaining soil
- Thoroughly water and place in a warm place with indirect light
Propagating a Calathea Orbifolia
Propagating takes an existing plant and cuts specific parts to grow a new plant most easily. Calathea plants do not like to be disturbed for propagating, and they could die, once again showing how dramatic it can be.
- If you want to propagate your Calathea orbifolia, the best time of year would be late spring or early summer.
- Gently, remove the root ball from the pot and remove dirt from the roots
- Cut a piece of the plant near the roots called the tuber that has its own root system, and at least one healthy leaf
- Repot the current plant
- Carefully pot the new plant and mist daily
Toxicity: Considered nontoxic to humans, cats, dogs, and other household pets.
Common Pests, Disease, and Other Issues
With damp growing conditions being ideal for Calatheas, it makes them more susceptible to insect infestations and soil mold, and other issues that will affect the plant’s growth.
- When you water your plants, check for:
- Thrips – slender pests with a yellow and brown tint that like to hide on the underside of plant leaves
- Aphids – translucent, pear-shaped bugs that like to hide on stems and leaves, and they cause plants to wilt and leave behind a sticky glaze on your plant.
- Mealybugs – pests that look like white wax that hide on stems and under leaves
After repotting a Calathea, keep an eye out for wilting leaves. Repotting stresses the plant out, and it is common for the leaves to do this.
The best way to care for your plant is to place it in a bright, humid place and avoid fertilizing or pruning.
Pruning Calathea Orbifolia
This plant is considered low maintenance for pruning. The only reason to do this to your plant is to remove dead leaves and enhance the plant’s appearance.
Bathrooms tend to be a favored spot as showers give humidity, and usually, there is minimal direct sunlight in this space.
FAQ – Calathea Orbifolia Care
Why is my Calathea Orbifolia drooping?
Like many houseplants, leaves droop when the plant needs water. Check the soil to decide if that is the case and if so, give the plant a deep soaking to bring it back to life.
If your calathea is well hydrated, the next cause may be root rot. Root rot happens when the soil is severely damp, which causes the roots to become mushy and unable to do their job.
If this is the case for you, repot the plant with new soil and prune any dead roots.
Why does my Calathea Orbifolia have brown spots and edges?
Check humidity levels and note if you are underwatering as they are usually both the culprit for brown spots and edges.
Mist the leaves regularly to help with getting the humidity levels correct and water the plant when the top layer of soil is dry. Thrips may also be the culprit for brown patches. If that is the case, remove the pests and prune the damaged leaves.
Is Calathea Orbifolia hard to care for?
Though a common houseplant, Calathea Orbifolia is a vulnerable plant with strong preferences you should consider beforehand, such as humidity and lighting. It does require careful attention.
Does the Calathea Orbifolia flower?
Indoors, this plant rarely shows its delicate white flowers, but it displays its star-shaped petals in its natural habitat.