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Calathea orbifolia, like other calatheas, has a reputation for being a little bit sassy. However, you might find that its gorgeous, large and impressive leaves really make up for its attitude! Read on to learn all about Calathea orbifolia care and propagation.
Where can I buy a Calathea orbifolia?
You can easily buy a beautiful Calathea orbifolia on Etsy. Check out this one from one of my favorite Etsy shops!
Are Calathea orbifolia hard to care for?
I won’t beat around the bush—Calathea orbifolia is known to be a tricky plant. Calatheas tend to be finicky in general. The orbifolia is a sensitive plant and is known to become unhappy if not cared for properly.
How do you care for Calathea orbifolia?
The key to Calathea orbifolia is knowing that it’s a tricky plant and therefore requires a more strict care routine. For example, this calathea has sensitive roots and is sensitive to repotting and propagating. Calatheas also prefer filtered, distilled, or rainwater instead of tap water. Read on for a full care and propagation guide!
How much sun does a Calathea orbifolia need?
Calathea orbifolia prefers medium, indirect light. Do not give it direct light or it could harm the leaves.
Technically, you don’t actually need SUNlight. Calathea orbifolia will grow just fine under grow lights! These days, I keep most of my plants under grow lights and they couldn’t be happier.
Check out two of my favorite grow lights below.
Keep this plant moist but not wet. I know, it’s a little tricky to maintain the right amount of moisture. To accomplish this, water when the top inch or so of the potting mix is dry.
Be sure to feel how wet the potting mix is before watering to avoid root rot.
As mentioned earlier, Calatheas are known to be finicky with tap water. If possible, it’s best to use rainwater, distilled water, or filtered water instead of tap water (this goes for providing humidity, too, which I’ll review further down).
A well-draining indoor plant potting mix will be fine. Even though this plant likes to remain moist, the potting mix still needs to drain in order to prevent the plant from sitting in soggy soil. I like to add in some additional perlite for extra drainage, too.
Normal household temperatures are fine for Calathea orbifolia. It is sensitive to cold temperatures, so keep it away from any drafty areas or windowsills in the winter.
Should you mist Calathea?
Native to Bolivia, Calathea orbifolia loves a humid environment. One way to provide this is by misting the plant every other day or so.
Personally, I prefer something a little more foolproof and longer lasting like a humidifier. Check out my current favorite humidifier below—it can last up to 96 hours!
Calathea orbifolia is a sensitive plant, so don’t repot it any more than necessary. That being said, don’t let it get too rootbound, either. Repot your plant when it is rootbound, which will probably be around every other year.
The two easiest ways to confirm if your plant is rootbound are by looking for roots coming out of the drainage holes and by gently slipping the plant out of its pot to see if the roots are all gathered around the outside of the soil.
Be gentle with the roots. Use a pot one size up with good drainage, and repot during the growing season (spring and summer). After repotting, make sure to water it to minimize stress. Then, just give your plant some time to adjust to its new home!
To fertilize this plant, you can use a balanced indoor plant fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer).
You won’t need to do much pruning to your Calathea orbifolia. Just remove any dead or dying leaves. If you need to, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut the leaf off at the base.
If you have any leaves with slightly brown, crispy edges but most of the leaf is still healthy, you can just trim off the edges using a pair of clean, sharp scissors rather than removing the entire leaf.
Foliage and Flowers
Calathea orbifolia is known for its very large and showy round/oblong leaves. The leaves are green with lighter green stripes.
It occasionally blooms small, white flowers, but this usually only happens in the wild.
Problems and Pests
Having Calathea problems? Fear not! You Calathea orbifolia is probably not dying but might be suffering from one of these common problems. Although plant problems can have many causes, these are some common causes of Calathea problems.
- Brown, crispy leaf edges
- If you’re using tap water to water and provide humidity, this might be making your plant unhappy. Try switching to filtered, distilled, or rainwater.
- Another common cause is your plant is too dry. Feel the potting mix. Remember, you should only let it dry about an inch down. If it’s not the potting mix that’s dry, it could be that the air is too dry, so turn on that humidifier!
- Leaves curling – This is commonly due to the plant being too dry and needing a drink. Feel the potting mix, and thoroughly water your plant if needed.
- Yellow leaves – This is a common symptom of overwatering. Make sure you are feeling the potting mix with your finger FIRST before watering.
- Droopy plant – This could actually mean under OR overwatering. Again, check the potting mix with your finger to feel for moisture levels to help determine the cause.
- Root rot – Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to kill a plant. You have likely overwatered too many times and too consistently. See my post on root rot for help.
- Pests – Some potential pests include mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, aphids, and whiteflies. There are specific ways to deal with each individual pest, but I really like Bonide Systemic Insect Control, as well as an insecticidal soap, for general pest control.
How to propagate Calathea orbifolia
Since it’s sensitive to repotting and being disturbed in general, Calathea orbifolia propagation is actually kind of tricky. It is done by dividing the plant.
Try to do this during the growing season (spring and summer). In fact, you might want to save this for when you’re repotting to minimize stress.
To propagate your Calathea orbifolia, gently remove it from its pot. Find a section with its own root system, at least one tuber, and at least one healthy leaf, more if possible.
Being careful with the roots, separate the section from the rest of the plant, and repot it into an appropriately sized pot.
Keep this newly potted plant’s potting mix moist and be careful not to overwater it. Place it in medium, indirect light.
Provide it with humidity by putting a clear plastic bag over the top, using a humidifier, or another method of your choice. If you use the plastic bag method, make sure to remove it for a little every other day or so to let in fresh air.
Now, just give your plant some time to adjust and start growing again. It may take over a month, so be patient! The mother plant will probably need some time to adjust as well after being disturbed.
Is Calathea orbifolia safe for pets?
Calathea orbifolia is non-toxic to cats and dogs and therefore you don’t need to worry about your pets with this plant around. However, keep in mind it’s best practice to keep pets away from plants regardless.
Growth rate and size
Calathea orbifolia can grow two to three feet tall when kept as a houseplant. It has a moderate growth rate if kept in optimal conditions.
Are Calatheas and Marantas the same thing?
No, Calatheas and Marantas are not the same thing, even though people often refer to Calatheas as Marantas or prayer plants.
The name “prayer plant” refers to Marantas, not Calatheas. While Calatheas and Marantas are both a part of the Marantaceae family, they are under different genera.