Easily one of the most popular of all Calatheas and other prayer plants, the Calathea Orbifolia is noted for its candy striped leaves, i.e. stunning foliage. A little fussier than some other Calathea types, particularly when it comes to leaf tips, here’s your ultimate Calathea Orbifolia care guide, including plant propagation, the best watering methods for your prayer plant, and what soil your plant will require.
The Calathea Orbifolia is native to Bolivia and is best-known for its ornamental leaves. Calatheas do not really tend to bloom indoors, and while their flowers are fairly beautiful, this is not too much of a nuisance considering that the plant is primarily grown as a houseplant on account of its incredibly attractive foliage.
First things first, I would say that the Calathea Orbifolia is not for the beginner indoor gardener. If you’re looking for easy to maintain plants for the home, then first check out my guide to easy care indoor plants. If you’re looking for an easy to maintain Calathea, then the Calathea Roseopicta Medallion or the Calathea Ornata are great alternatives; though the former is the easiest to care for.
Calathea Orbifolia Plant Care & Watering Guide
Watering your Orbifolia Plant
One of the most important considerations when caring for your Orbifolia are humidity levels and the kind of water you use for the plant. You see, the leaves of this prayer plant are highly susceptible to high mineral concentrations in water.
Symptoms of this include browning leaf tips and so, if this occurs, consider using filtered or rain water. Symptoms of overwatering are limp stems, while symptoms of under-watering include leaf dropping and leaf-tips browning.
With this being said, one of the most common causes of plant death, especially among Calatheas, is root rot. You should never let your plant dry out completely, nor should you allow it to sit in water for long periods of time. Instead, consider watering your plant little and often and remember that the plant likes to remain moist but doesn’t like to have its feet too wet.
Another note on water considerations for your Calatheas is humidity levels. Such as with nearly every other houseplant which derives from humid jungles, humidity levels in the air can be a particular problem and lead to leaf tips browning.
This can be a particular problem during the winter months when many of us use central heating, which can cause the air in your home to become very dry. In order to maintain high humidity levels, consider grouping several prayer plants together.
Best soil conditions for the Orbifolia Calathea
When it comes to the kind of soil that the prayer plant requires, there’s no exact formula or recipe to follow. Instead, like many indoor plants with tropical origins, you’ll want to pot your Calathea up into a well draining soil mix with some organic material (but not too much).
Pre-made soil mix which is specifically formulated for houseplants can often be purchased at your local gardening centre. In the growing season, fertilise your plant every three weeks or so with a diluted fertiliser made for jungle plants. Water your plant a little the day before so as to avoid root burn from the fertiliser.
Best light conditions for the Calathea Orbifolia
Though it’s commonly said that the Calathea will do well in dark light levels, this is simply not the case. Your plant will not thrive if the light conditions are too low, and might even die. Instead, indirect light is best for the Orbifolia.
Consider placing your plant in a corner close to a window and avoid placing the foliage in direct sunlight as this can lead to discolouration of the leaves. For example, avoid South facing windows and instead place your Orbifolia in a spot close to a North facing window.
Calathea Orbifolia Propagation
Unfortunately, unlike most aroids and many species of succulent, Calatheas cannot be propagated by stem cutting. Instead, propagation is through division whereby the plant is divided at the roots into several plants during the start of the growing season (i.e. in the spring).
Following division and repotting, be wary not to overwater the plants. As each individual plant is smaller than the original, they will require less water and will also likely need to be potted into smaller pots as the original full plant, or at the very least, pots of the same size.
Calathea Orbifolia Pests
Calatheas are particularly susceptible to scale and spider mites. Spider mites tend to appear when the plant is stressed, such as from under-watering and not receiving enough humidity. Another common cause of plant stress is when the plant is root bound, which is to say that the pot is too small and the plant should either be repotted in a larger container or divided into smaller plants before repotting. Spider mites can be treated using insecticidal soap. Scale can be treated with neem oil.
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