Calathea lancifolia Care Guide (Calathea Rattlesnake)

Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by Sophie

It’s hard to mistake the Calathea lancifolia for any other Prayer Plant variety thanks to just how unique the foliage of this beautiful jungle plant is. Characterised by its long leaves with distinctive spotted markings, hence its nickname of ‘Calathea rattlesnake,’ here’s a complete Calathea lancifolia care guide, as well as propagation tips, watering advice, and what light and soil this green plant requires.

Calathea Lancifolia


Calathea lancifolia Plant Care & Watering Guide

Watering your Lancifolia Plant

One of the key things to be mindful of when looking after any prayer plant is the watering requirements of the plant. After all, while most types of philodendrons thrive when allowed to dry out between waterings, this simply isn’t the case for calatheas.

Instead, prayer plants prefer to be moist at all times, though don’t want to have their feet sitting in water. After all, too much water can lead to root rot, from which there is little chance of recovery. As such, the lancifolia is best watered little but often. 

The other main issue, asides from watering, that many indoor gardeners will face is the fact that Calatheas are particularly susceptible to low humidity levels in the air, and this can lead to brown and crispy leaves.

This can particularly be a problem during the winter months when central heating tends to dry out the air in your home. In order to combat this, you can mist your plant every few days. Grouping prayer plants together can also improve humidity levels around the plants.

Calathea rattlesnake

Best soil conditions for the Lancifolia Calathea

Due to the fact that the plant enjoys being moist at all times but does not want to be sitting in water, the substrate that the plant sits in is particularly important. A well-draining mix with some organic material but also well-draining substrate such as coco coir or perlite is a great selection. Most gardening centres which sell indoor plants will likely have a ready made mix which is perfect for houseplants which originate in the jungle.

Best light conditions for the Calathea rattlesnake

Though many advertise Calatheas and other Prayer Plant types as being the ideal plant for low light conditions, this is simply not the case. While it’s true that these striking plants will survive in lower light conditions than many of their houseplant counterparts, this doesn’t mean that they’ll thrive!

In order for your lancifolia to grow its best, I highly recommend placing the rattlesnake plant in a brightly lit spot which gets plenty of indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves, from which there is little chance of the leaves recovering.

Too much sun can also lead the plant to dry out too much in between waterings. As such, the ideal spot for the Calathea rattlesnake is a few feet away from an East or West facing window. If you notice that the leaf markings on new leaves are a little dull or are not as vibrantly marked as before, this is a sign that the plant is not receiving enough sunlight. If this happens, then move your plant to a more brightly lit spot.

Calathea rattlesnake care guide

Calathea lancifolia Propagation

Unfortunately, much like most other Calathea varieties, the lancifolia cannot be propagated via leaf cuttings (as this is one of the easiest ways to propagate many types of succulents and philodendrons).

Instead, propagation of the plant should be done via root division during repotting (which should typically be done during the beginning of the growing season; i.e. in spring or early summer) so as to allow the newly divided plants to thrive and stabilise before their dormant period.

Calathea lancifolia

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About Author

Sophie Nadeau is a travel, pizza, and history lover who is currently based in Paris, France. A keen indoor gardener, she spends her time at home reading books, looking at too many dog photos, and growing an indoor jungle in her tiny flat!