Last Updated on May 23, 2022 by Sophie
When it comes to some of the best plants for foliage lovers, prayer plants are some of the most popular types of greenery for adding some stunning leaves into your indoor space. From striped leaves to velvet-feel plants, this guide is here to show you some of the best and most beautiful Calathea varieties you’ll just love, along with names and pictures!
How many species of Calathea are there?
There are a staggering almost 300 cultivars of Calathea, which in turn are spread across several dozen different species of this genus. Calatheas originate from the Americas and the genus Calathea is part of the family Marantaceae.
What is the easiest Calathea to care for?
Of course, since there are so many different Calathea plants, each with their own unique features, different plants have different requirements. With this being said, some of the easiest Calatheas to care for include the Calathea ornata, the Calathea lancifolia (rattlesnake Calathea), and the Calathea roseopicta.
Best Calathea varieties for your indoor garden
One of the increasingly popular types of Calathea (often with a price tag to match), the Calathea Orbifolia is unlike many other prayer plants in that it doesn’t have a maroon undersides to the leaves. Instead, the plant is characterised by its glossy green leaves which are striped like candy.
As one of the hardier versions of Calathea, which in turn makes it one of the easiest prayer plant varieties to care for, the Calathea Ornata is recognised by its dark glossy green leaves which have pink stripes that look as though they’ve been painted on by an artist. Thanks to this unique appearance, the Calathea Ornata is also sometimes referred to as the pinstripe leaf Calathea.
There are several different versions of the Calathea Roseopicta (the medallion type as shown below being one of the more popular Calatheas to be grown as a houseplant). Easier to look after and less prone to browning leaf tips than prayer plants like the Calathea Orbifolia, the Roseopicta has maroon undersides to the leaves and is known for its rich patternation on the leaf tops.
The velvety green leaves of the Calathea Warscewiczii, sometimes referred to as Calathea Jungle Velvet, are characterised by their darker green banding throughout the leaves and deep maroon undersides, though are more velvet feel to the touch. Please note that the two toned plant is now classed as Goeppertia warszewiczii for taxinomic reasons, though it is still often sold as a Calathea plant, hence its name on the list.
With its long green leaves and maroon undersides, the Calathea Rufibarba has one of the most unusual leaf shapes of all Calathea plants. Not to be confused with the rather similar looking Calathea lancifolia, the Calathea Rufibarba is also often referred to as the ‘velvet calathea’ or ‘furry feather Calathea’ on account of its fluffy feather-shaped leaves.
Calathea Lancifolia, ‘Rattlesnake Plant’
One of the more unique looking of the Calathea plants is characterised by its long leaves marked by spots, which lends itself to the name ‘rattlesnake plant‘. Fairly easy to care for when it comes to types of Calathea, it’s worth noting that this particular type of Calathea is prone to the tips of the leaves browning. Much like many other Calathea plants, the underside of the leaves are maroon, whereas the tops of the leaves are dark green.
Looking pretty similar to the Calathea Flamestar in its appearance, the Calathea Makoyana is commonly nicknamed ‘peacock plant’ or ‘cathedral windows’ as a result of its cream green foliage which is peppered with elongated green ovals and dark green lines.
The foliage is pretty thin, and unlike lots of other Calathea varieties, the undersides of the leaves are not a block of maroon, but rather mirror the pattern on the top of the leaf on its undersides. A fully grown plant can reach around 12 inches in height.
Of all the Calathea types that are fairly easy to find, one of the easiest to look after is that of Calathea leopardina. Characterised by its fully bright green leaves (unlike many other prayer plant varieties), this plant has no deep maroon undersides to its leaves, the long leaves have dark green markings (not dissimilar to a leopard). This one of the few Calathea varieties that easily flowers indoors, and the white flowers bloom in clusters.
There are lots of kinds of Calathea, but while the majority are known for their stunning foliage and rarely bloom indoors (and, if they do bloom, the flowers are nothing of note), one particular Calathea type is prized for its breathtaking blooms.
The Calathea crocata is often nicknamed the ‘Eternal Flame Plant’ thanks to the fact that its bright orange blooms resemble a flame and flower a little above the rest of the leaves, giving the appearance of fire rising out of the leaves! This Calathea is particularly noted to be an easy care plant and is one of the best beginner Calathea plants.
If you love your prayer plants to not only have vibrantly patterned foliage, but also feel super cool too, then you should look into getting yourself a Calathea zebrina. Calathea zebrinas originate from Brazil.
These beautiful plants are characterised by their big, oval shaped leaves (which can grow up to 2 foot in length, given the right conditions) which are light green in appearance with darker green horizontal stripes. Given ideal conditions, the Calathea zebra can grow up to three foot high.
Calathea White Fusion
If you’re a fan of prayer plants and love variegated varieties, then the Calathea White Fusion may well be the plant for you. Characterised by its stunning lanceolate-shaped green leaves which are marked by white and silver stripes and deep maroon undersides, this is one Calathea you’ll love to add to your indoor collection.
Scientifically, Calathea ‘White Fusion’ is known as Calathea lietzei and it is often gifted the name ‘peacock plant,’ though should not be confused with Calathea makoyana, which is also nickanmed the ‘Peacock Plant’ or ‘cathedral windows’.
Characterised by its beautiful mosaic-like appearance on the foliage, the plant is sometimes known as Calathea ‘network’ thanks to its intricate leaf patterns. Calathea musaica is native to Brazil and other parts of South America. Its leaves are dark green and glossy and are covered in a light green ‘network’ pattern of lines.
Unlike other Calatheas, the underside of the Network Calathea leaves are not maroon but green. Please note that, in recent years, the plant has been reclassified as Goeppertia kegeljanii “Network”. However, many plant stores and guides still refer to the prayer plant as Calathea musaica
One of the most unusual looking Calathea plants which keen gardeners are likely to come across at one point or another is that of the Calathea lutea, which is otherwise known as the Cigar Plant (or Havana Cigar) on account of the fact that
The Calathea lutea is particularly unique among types of Calatheas on account of the fact that it grows much larger than the average prayer plant and is much less shade-loving. Given the right conditions, the lutea can grow up to 5 metres tall, though this is of course very unlikely in an interior home environment!
KeetiNovember 11, 2020 at 8:46 pm
Hi there, l am looking for s plant which has similar in look to a Calathea. I had been given the plant from a friend who has since passed and didnt know what it was called. Ive been searching it for a number of years. It had long slender erect stems and the leaf was a slender paddle shape. It was so beautiful, it used to have this habit of now and again of maybe the stem would move or turn snd the leaf would shiver? It used to freak my husband out ss there were no insects that we saw to trigger that movement. I loved this plant and would like to find it again if possible. When we moved into a motorhome l gave it to a friend to look after but it perished. Any help would be appreciated.
SophieNovember 12, 2020 at 2:16 pm
Hello! Thanks for your message. It sounds like you may well be describing the maranta leuconeura as this is very similar to the Calathea and is even also called a ‘prayer plant’. I find marantas to move much more than Calatheas and it always makes me jump. Please let me know if this helps!
An ConcepcionDecember 28, 2020 at 12:39 pm
I really love Calathea plants hope i could some of its varieties❤❤❤