Calathea Rattlesnake: Care, Propagation, and More

Calathea Rattlesnake: Care, Propagation, and More

The Calathea rattlesnake is a beautiful and exotic plant that is gaining in popularity. It’s easy to see why – this plant is fascinating with its unique leaves that fold up at night and rattle in the breeze. But before you rush out to buy one, there are some things you should know about how to care for a Calathea rattlesnake. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to get started, including tips on propagation and common problems.

Calathea Lancifolia Overview

The Calathea lancifolia, or rattlesnake plant, is a tropical evergreen native to Brazil. It grows in the wild under the canopy of rainforests, where it receives dappled sunlight. The leaves of the Calathea lancifolia are what give this plant its unique appearance. They are dark green with light green stripes and have a rippled or wavy edge. The leaves are also large – up to 18 inches long! When the Calathea lancifolia is happy, it will produce small white flowers that bloom in summertime. [1]


Calathea rattlesnake does best with weekly watering. Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out in between waterings. They are sensitive to fluoride and chlorine, so it’s best to use filtered or distilled water if your tap water is high in these minerals. Water early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.

Over-watering can cause Calathea leaves to turn yellow and brown and drop off. Under-watering will cause the leaves to curl and wilt. If you think your plant might be under-watered, give it a good soak until water flows from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. [1]


Calathea enjoy warm weather and humidity, so they are not ideal for homes with central heating. The ideal temperature range for Calathea is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature in your home dips below 60 degrees at night, you may want to consider using a space heater or placing your plant near a radiator.

In addition to being native to tropical climates, Calathea likes high humidity. If the air in your home is too dry, you may notice the leaves of your plant beginning to curl or brown around the edges. To increase the humidity around your plant, you can use a humidifier or pebble tray.  A pebble tray is simply a tray filled with gravel or rocks that you keep filled with water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around your plant. [2]



Calathea Rattlesnake plants enjoy bright, indirect sunlight. If you notice the leaves of your Calathea beginning to fade or lose their vibrant coloring, it is likely due to too little light.

To avoid this, try to place your plant in an area where it will receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. If you cannot provide enough natural light, you may need to supplement with artificial lighting.

Fluorescent lights are a great option for indoor plants like Calathea Rattlesnake since they emit very little heat and can be placed close to the plant without harming it. [1]

Calathea Lancifolia Humidity Needs

If you’re thinking about adding a Calathea lancifolia to your indoor jungle, there are a few things you should know about taking care of this beautiful plant. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to caring for any type of Calathea is that they require high humidity levels to thrive.

There are a few different ways that you can increase the humidity around your Calathea lancifolia. One way is to mist the leaves regularly with water, making sure to avoid getting the plant’s crown or stem wet. Another way is to place your plant on a pebble tray filled with water. You can also use a humidifier near your plant if the air in your home is particularly dry. [1]

Soil and Fertilizer

Calathea plants are native to the tropical regions of South America and thrive in humid environments with high temperatures. They prefer rich, moist soils that are well-draining and slightly acidic. A quality potting mix or African violets mix will work well for Calathea rattlesnake.

Fertilize your Calathea plant every two weeks during the spring and summer months with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. During the fall and winter, fertilize your plant monthly. Be sure to flush the soil with clean water every six months to prevent salt buildup. [1]

Cleaning and Pruning

To keep your Calathea looking its best, regular cleaning and pruning is a must. Start by dusting the leaves with a soft, dry cloth. You can also wipe them down with a damp cloth if they’re particularly dirty. Every few weeks, trim any brown or yellow leaves with sharp scissors. And every month or so, give the plant a thorough shower to remove any built-up dust or debris. [1]

With proper care, your Calathea rattlesnake will thrive and bring you years of enjoyment. So don’t be afraid to give this beautiful plant a try!

Cleaning and Pruning

Calathea Propagation

Rattlesnake propagation through division

Calathea plants can be propagated through division. This is best done in spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. To propagate by division, simply carefully remove the plant from its pot and divide it into smaller sections, making sure that each section has at least one good root system. You can then replant these sections into individual pots filled with fresh potting mix. Water well and keep the soil moist until new growth appears. [3]

Rattlesnake plant propagation through cuttings

Another way to propagate Calathea plants is from stem cuttings. This can be done at any time of year, although spring and summer are best as the plant is actively growing. To take a cutting, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to take a cutting about 15cm (six inches) long from the tip of a healthy stem. Remove the lower leaves on the cutting, leaving just two or three at the top. Dip the end of the cutting into some rooting hormone powder and then place it into a pot filled with moistened perlite or vermiculite. Water well and place the pot in a warm, bright spot out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on the cutting and water as necessary to keep the perlite or vermiculite moist, but not soggy. After a few weeks, you should see new growth appearing on the cutting. Once the plant is established, you can transplant it into a pot of its own. [3]

Signs That Your Rattlesnake Plant Is Unhappy

If you notice your rattlesnake plant looking a bit under the weather, there are a few things to look out for. One is if the leaves start to curl up or turn brown around the edges. This could be a sign of too much direct sunlight or not enough humidity. If the leaves are drooping, it might mean that you’re overwatering your plant. Another issue could be pests; look for small insects like mealybugs or spider mites. These pests can cause leaf discoloration and damage.

If you think your rattlesnake plant isn’t getting enough water, check the soil before watering again. Stick your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle; if it feels dry, it’s time to water. When you do water, make sure to use room-temperature filtered water. Allow the plant to drain completely before putting it back in its pot.

If you think your rattlesnake plant is getting too much sun, try moving it to a spot that gets indirect light. If the leaves are still curling or turning brown, increase the humidity around the plant by misting it with water or placing it on a pebble tray. [3]

Signs That Your Rattlesnake Plant Is Unhappy

Types of Rattlesnake Plant

There are three types of rattlesnake plant: the common Calathea, the veined Calathea, and the Marantaceae family. The common Calathea is by far the most popular type of rattlesnake plant. It has beautiful dark green leaves with light green stripes running down the center. The veined Calathea is very similar to the common Calathea but has more pronounced veins on its leaves. The Marantaceae family is a bit different from the other two types of rattlesnake plant. It has lighter green leaves with white spots and a more compact growth habit. [2]

No matter which type of rattlesnake plant you choose, they are all easy to care for and make great houseplants.

Common Pests

One of the most common problems with Calathea is browning or yellowing leaves. This can be caused by several different things, including:

  • too much sun
  • too little water
  • fertilizer burn
  • pests

If you notice your plant’s leaves are browning or yellowing, check to see if it is getting enough water and sunlight. If it is, then the problem may be due to fertilizer burn. Try using a less concentrated fertilizer or flushing the soil with water to remove any build-up. Finally, check for pests. Mealybugs and scale are common pests that can cause leaf discoloration. Treat these pests with an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution. [2]

Calathea are also susceptible to root rot, so make sure the plant is not sitting in water. If you think your plant has root rot, try repotting it in fresh, well-draining soil.

Tips To Keep Your Rattlesnake Plant Happy

When it comes to keeping your Calathea rattlesnake plant happy, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, this plant loves humidity. If the air in your home is on the drier side, you can increase the humidity around your plant by grouping it with other plants, running a humidifier near it, or placing it on a pebble tray. Secondly, although calatheas prefer bright indirect light, too much direct sunlight will cause their leaves to scorch. Thirdly, make sure you’re watering your rattlesnake plant regularly and allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Lastly, fertilize your plant once a month during the spring and summer months with an all. [3]

Growing Tips

Calathea rattlesnake is not a difficult plant to care for, but there are a few things to keep in mind when growing it. First and foremost, this plant does best in bright indirect light. If you live in an area with very low light, you may want to consider growing Calathea in a terrarium or under grow lights.

Calathea also prefers high humidity, so if your home is on the drier side, you’ll need to provide extra moisture for your plants. One way to do this is by placing them on a pebble tray or misting them regularly.

As far as soil goes, Calathea prefers a well-draining potting mix that’s slightly on the acidic side. A good way to achieve this is by mixing equal parts peat moss and perlite.

Finally, Calathea are sensitive to chemicals and fluoride, so it’s important to use filtered water when watering your plants. [4]

With these tips in mind, you should have no problem getting your Calathea rattlesnake plant to thrive!

Growing Tips


Can you water propagate rattlesnake plants?

Yes, you can water propagate rattlesnake plants! Simply take a cutting from an existing plant and place it in water. The cutting will then form its own roots and become a new plant.

How do you divide a rattlesnake Calathea?

To divide a rattlesnake Calathea, carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently separate the root ball into two or more sections. Replant each section in its own pot filled with fresh, moistened potting mix. Water well and place in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight. Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. New growth should appear within a few weeks.

How do you make Calathea bushy?

To make your Calathea bushier, you can do one of two things. You can either pinch back the main stem to encourage new growth, or you can cut it back and let it resprout from the roots. Both methods will work, but if you want to keep your plant looking full and healthy, we recommend pinching back the main stem.

Pinching back the main stem is pretty easy to do. Just take your thumb and index finger and lightly squeeze the stem about an inch or so above a leaf node. A leaf node is where a new leaf will sprout from, so by pinching back the stem just above one of these nodes, you’ll encourage new growth.

How do you make Calathea bushy

What fertilizer is best for Calathea?

While there are many different types of fertilizer out there, we recommend using a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer for your Calathea. Apply the fertilizer every other week during the growing season and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you want to give your plant a little boost, you can also add some organic matter to the soil. This could be in the form of compost, manure, or even just some extra leaves from around your yard. Just be sure that whatever you use is well-rotted and free of any chemicals.

Adding organic matter to the soil will help it retain moisture better and provide nutrients for your plant. It’s a good idea to do this once or twice a year, depending on how much your plant is growing.

Why is my rattlesnake plant not growing?

One of the most common questions I get asked is why a rattlesnake plant isn’t growing. There are a few reasons this could be happening:

  • The plant isn’t getting enough light. Calathea rattlesnakes need bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. If your plant is not getting enough light, it will start to grow long and leggy stems in an attempt to reach the light source.
  • The plant is too wet or too dry. These plants like evenly moist soil that never dries out completely or gets soggy. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can kill the plant.
  • The temperature is wrong. Calathea rattlesnakes prefer warm temperatures and will not do well if it gets too cold. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will start to die.



I hope this article was helpful in answering some of your questions about Calathea rattlesnakes. These are beautiful and unique plants that can be a little finicky to care for, but they’re worth the effort. With a little patience and the right conditions, you’ll have a thriving plant that will bring life to any room it’s in. Thanks for reading!