Calathea Lancifolia - Rattlesnake Plant

Calathea Lancifolia – How NOT to Kill Rattlesnake Plant

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You probably know this plant by its second name – rattlesnake plant. It got its famous name by the leaves that are long and ruffled, green with dark stripes and purple underside. Calathea lancifolia belongs to the Marantaceae family, and its natural habitat is Brazil. The plant has adapted to a warm climate, but you can easily grow it anywhere if you are able to meet all of its criteria! This stunning plant will make any room in your house look more exotic, and we have a few tips and tricks for taking care of the Calathea lancifolia.

Learn everything you need to know about growing rattlesnake plant in this guide that will cover:

How to grow Calathea Lancifolia

Before we start talking about some general requirements, you should get familiar with the plant.

As said, Calathea Lancifolia grows in Brazil, so it has adjusted to the tropical environment.

This plant is relatively tall, about 30 inches, and because of large leaves, it looks even bigger.

Most gardeners are attracted to the plant because of the large leaves. They are dark green, with ruffled edges and stripes. If you check the underside, you will see that it is a gorgeous dark purple color.

A healthy rattlesnake plant will turn any home into a tropical paradise!

Spring and summer is its growing period, so March through August is the best time to grow it. During those months make sure that you follow the instructions and frequently check the plant.

This is one of the easiest plants to take care of. It isn’t demanding and you don’t have to be a professional gardener to grow rattlesnake plant.

To grow a healthy Calathea Lancifolia, follow the simple instructions.

All that the plant needs are the proper temperature, watering, humidity and soil. Luckily for you, this guide will cover every segment along with tips for solving some common problems. Let’s get familiar with this stunning plant from the Marantaceae family.

Related: Calathea – The Ultimate Caring Guide

Different types of Calathea

You are probably familiar with the term office plants – plants that are super easy to grow and take care of.

Most Calathea plants (including the rattlesnake plant) are considered for office plants. Amateur gardeners learn the basics of gardening with these plants because they don’t require too much effort.

These plants also have unique names such as zebra plant, peacock plant, pinstripe plant, or prayer plant and gardeners often use these unusual names rather than their Latin names.

Popular Calathea plants are:

  1. Calathea Leitzei
  2. Calathea Makoyana
  3. Calathea Medallion
  4. Calathea Musaica
  5. Calathea Orbifolia
  6. Calathea Ornata
  7. Calathea Beauty Star
  8. Calathea Roseopicta
  9. Calathea Rufibarba
  10. Calathea Zebrina
  11. Calathea Vittata
  12. Calathea Fasciata

Even though these plants require similar conditions, each type is still unique and you should learn more about the plant before you start growing it.

Some basic requirements, for example, temperature, lighting and watering can be applied to all Calathea plants.

The list goes on and on, so feel free to check all the varieties I can think of.


Firstly, we have to talk about watering.

If you don’t water your plant regularly, it won’t develop into a stunning plant it can be.

Many gardeners are worried about both underwatering and overwatering their rattlesnake plant.

If you are uncertain as well, always think about the conditions the plant naturally grows in.

Since Calathea Lancifolia is found in the forests of Brazil, it will demand regular watering.

This means watering a few times every week, depending on the season. During winter months, it won’t require as many feedings. In contrast during the summer, you should water the plant more frequently.

If you can’t determine when to water the plant, just check the soil – it is always the best indicator!

The first layer of the soil should be moist, along with the bottom layers. Simply check the moisture with your fingers. If the bottom layers are dry, water the plant.

After a few days, check the soil again. As long as the bottom layer is moist, it doesn’t need watering.

Watering Calathea Lancifolia

If you are checking the soil every few days, you will be able to determine how often you need to water the plant.

Even if you are regularly watering the plant, some problems might occur.

Gardeners that use tap water should check the level of fluoride and chlorine. This plant is sensitive to both of these salts, so avoid using water that has high levels of either.

Also, water the plant using room-temperature water since both cold and hot water can cause damages.

Light and temperature requirements

Just like many other Calathea plants, this specie doesn’t require direct sunlight, which makes growing it indoors much easier.

Any bright spot, away from direct sun rays is good for Calathea Lancifolia. Placing it near windows is always a good option.

If you don’t have a spot that is bright enough and away from sunlight, you can protect the plant with curtains – most indoor gardeners found them helpful.

White curtains will reduce the intensity of the light, so even when the plant is exposed to direct sunlight, it won’t get sunburns and leaves won’t get damaged.

Another thing you can try is different light sources.

By using different lamps, you can set the intensity of the light and make sure the plant is getting enough light during the day.

Of course, the cheaper option is to just find a good spot in the house, but if you aren’t able to do it, you should invest in one of these lamps.

When it comes to temperature, it should be between 18 and 24 Celsius degrees. This is the average temperature of its natural habitat and it will thrive in these conditions.

Indoor gardeners typically use air conditioners to regulate the temperature of the room in which they keep the plant. Regulating the temperature is much easier during springtime, and much harder during high heats in summer.

When the winter comes, make sure that the temperature of the room doesn’t drop under 15 Celsius degrees. At low temperatures, the plant can die.

Another thing you should pay attention to is the temperature changes. The plant won’t be able to stand fast and drastic temperature changes.

Constant and warm temperature is the key to growing a healthy rattlesnake plant.

Soil requirements

Good soil is just as important as proper watering and temperature.

Many gardeners love to make their growing mixes, but you can find many good ones online as well.

When it comes to soil requirements, always go for a mix that can retain water because this plant requires a lot of water for proper development.

You should also make sure that it gives good drainage. Keep in mind that the mix shouldn’t have too much drainage material – it should only prevent the soil from becoming soggy, without drying it too much.

A potting mix should consist of peat and perlite, and choose one that has more peat than perlite (the best ratio is 2:1).

Sand is a great substitute for perlite, so you can get a sand-based growing mix as well.

Another thing the soil should contain is coconut coir – many organic potting mixes have this ingredient.

There are numerous potting mixes made specifically for growing Calathea plants, and these are a good choice as well.

During the spring and summer, you can add a bit more growing mix into the pot. That is a growing period for rattlesnake plants, and thanks to regular replenishing it will get the needed nutrients.


Proper feeding is required for healthy development.

During the growing period (from March until August), the plant will require frequent fertilizing.

This means feeding the plant once a month.

The best fertilizers for Calathea Lancifolia are liquid ones, soluble in water.

Keep in mind that the plant is sensitive to salts, and fertilizers with too much salt will cause the drying of the leaves and white spots.

Also, before fertilizing make sure that the soil is moist. Then just spray the plant with fertilizer and repeat the process in a month.

In colder periods, the plant won’t need any feedings, so just water it every few days.


Calathea Lancifolia Pruning

No matter how much effort you put into taking care of the plant, you might still notice discoloration of the leaves.

The reasons for discoloration are numerous, but they aren’t hard to resolve. Also, it doesn’t happen often to Calathea Lancifolia.

Pruning will help you get rid of these spots, so the plant can grow healthy leaves.

With small shears, remove either a part of the leaf or an entire leaf.

Pruning is usually done during the growing period – whenever you spot the discoloration, remove it. When you are done, continue with regular watering and feeding, and check the pruned spots.

The plant will require about three weeks to recover, and if the spots are still there, you can repeat the process.

In winter, avoid pruning. Discoloration of the leaves is normal during those months, and the plant will recover when the growing period comes again.


There are different ways of propagating plants. Starting from seeds is one of the most common, however, it is almost impossible to do it with the rattlesnake plant, because getting the Calathea Lancifolia seeds isn’t easy.

If you have a healthy rattlesnake plant, you can propagate it by division.

Compared to other propagating techniques, this one might be a bit more difficult, but it gives the best results!

Before you start the process, prepare the tools:

  • Small shears
  • A potting mix you want to use
  • A small piece of cloth or a tissue
  • A pot for the new plant.

Firstly, you will have to remove the plant from the pot, along with the roots – they have steams needed for propagating.

The roots will most likely be tangled, so carefully untangle them.

Place the roots on a cloth or tissue – it will protect them along with steams from any damages.

The roots will most likely be tangled, so carefully untangle them and check them for steams.

If there are steams, you can gently pull them out using fingers. Shears can be used as well, just make sure that the root stays intact.

Wrap the steams in a cloth and prepare the potting mix.

When you place the steams in a pot with the soil, water them.

Since it will take them a while to start growing, you should do the pruning process during the growing season.

Steams require the same care as older plants – regular watering, feeding, a lot of indirect lightning and warm temperature.


Repotting means moving the plant in a bigger and wider pot.

In a larger pot, the plant will have the needed space for development.

Since this is a quite tall plant and it will require repotting every year.

The best time for repotting is spring, so it can continue developing in a larger pot.

If you aren’t sure whether or not the plant needs repotting, you can just take it out of the pot and see the size of the roots.

They shouldn’t be big enough to cover the entire container.

Also, if you plan on propagating the plant during the same season, you can repot it at the same time.

Choose the pot that roots won’t entirely cover and have enough room to grow.

Before you take the plant out, cover a third of the pot with a potting mix.

Then place the plant in a pot, and add the growing mix to cover the roots entirely.

When you are done, water the soil, and add fertilizer. Place a plant in a shaded area, to prevent any sunburns and allow it to rest for a few days.

Calathea Lancifolia Problems and Solutions

Calathea Lancifolia Problems and Solutions

As said, this specie is quite easy to take care of – it isn’t a demanding plant and as long as some basic criteria are met, it will thrive.

However, certain problems do occur, even to professional gardeners.

Luckily for you, we have solutions to all the most common problems.

1. Leaves with brown edges

Most gardeners that have the rattlesnake plant experience this problem.

Brown leaves often occur because of the accumulated salts in the soil.

As mentioned, Calathea Lancifolia is extremely sensitive to salts.

This problem can be solved by flushing the salt every year.

All you will need is a drainage tray and distilled water.

Pour a distilled water in the pot and wait for the water to accumulate on the tray. Repeat the process one more time and then empty the tray.

Prune the brown edges, and allow the leaves to recover.

If the problem occurs again, and the flushing doesn’t help, you should check the water you are using for watering or try another fertilizer.

When either water or fertilizer is a cause of the problem, flushing doesn’t help much and it is only a temporary solution.

Brown tips can also be an indicator of dry air.

These plants require high humidity.

You can create a humid air with humidifiers.

Related: Best Plant Humidifiers and a Buying Guide.

If you don’t want to spend extra cash on a humidifier, just place a plant near a bathroom or in a kitchen. The air in these rooms is usually more humid than in the other rooms, so it should be humid enough for the plant.

2. Yellow leaves

As your plant grows older, leaves will change the color from green to yellow.

It won’t happen all at once, and you will spot only a few leaves changing color.

This process is natural and isn’t a sign of a problem.

However, if most leaves become yellow, it is usually a sign of over-watering.

When this happens, take a longer break between waterings and check the soil every day.

As long as the soil is moist, you don’t need to water the plant. Once the bottom layers become dry, you can start with regular watering again.

Also, the frequent watering might not be the problem. If the soil doesn’t have enough drainage material, it will retain too much water, which will cause yellow leaves.

Just switch to another potting mix – find the one that retains water, but has drainage material as well!

3. Leaves starting to curl

This is an indicator of two problems – either you are underwatering the plant or the air is too dry.

The easiest way to resolve an underwatering issue is to simply check the moisture of the soil every day.

If the soil is dry (bottom and top layer), it is time to water it.

During the growing period, it is normal to water the plant more frequently.

The soil could be dry because it has too much drainage material. This material can pull out too much water, so the plant isn’t getting enough of it between the waterings.

Check the ingredients of the soil and replace it if needed.

If you are having the problem with humidity of the air, use humidifiers or place a plant near the bathroom or kitchen.

4. Limp stems

This problem doesn’t happen frequently since most gardeners use air conditioners to control the temperature of the room.

Limp stems are a serious problem and cause the death of the plant.

As soon as you notice them, you should start resolving the problem.

Limp stems are caused by cold temperatures and too much water.

If you notice limp stems, move the plant to a warmer room and pause with watering.

When a plant spends enough time in a warmer climate, the problem will fix itself.

5. Pests and Diseases

This plant doesn’t attract any specific pests that you have to keep an eye on.

Still, usual pests will attack the leaves. Spider mites and aphids are the most common pests, but they are easy to deal with. Also, spider mites are typically a problem throughout the winter.

If you spot these pests, simply wash the foliage using insecticidal soap.

When it comes to diseases, there aren’t any that you should be aware of. Most problems are related to watering, humidity, or soil.


1. Is Calathea Lancifolia toxic?

No! This plant is safe for humans and pets.

However, you shouldn’t allow your pets to bite the leaves since they might have a stomach ache or start vomiting.

2. Does Calathea Lancifolia require regular feeding?

This mostly depends on the season.

During the growing season, you should water the plant a few times every week.

Whenever the soil is dry, water it!

In contrast, in winter time it doesn’t need as much water and you can water it once or twice a week.

3. Should I use distilled water?

Tap water will do the job, but you should check its quality before watering. If it isn’t rich with fluoride and chlorine, you don’t need to use distilled water.

You can also purify the water in some way.

If purifying water or checking the level of salt is too much work, that you can use distilled water.

4. Does Calathea Lancifolia require misting?

Since this plant should grow in a humid environment, it could benefit from misting.

It doesn’t have to be done frequently.

During hot days, when the air is dry, you can mist the leaves lightly.

Also, if you see the discoloration on leaves, you can fix the problem by frequently misting the leaves.

5. Can I revive a dying Calathea Lancifolia?

This plant is usually affected by low temperatures, irregular watering, or too much direct sunlight.

All of these problems are quite easy to resolve, and there are ways to bring your dying plant back to life.

If tips mentioned above don’t do the job, then you should cut off the dying parts (all leaves that have changed color or similar) and wait until they grow back.

After about a month, healthy, new leaves will start to grow back.

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