Calathea Rufibarba - How to Care for Velvet Calathea

Calathea Rufibarba – How to Care for Velvet Calathea

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I have to admit, Calathea rufibarba is one of the most luxuriously looking houseplants I’ve ever seen. The first thing you notice is the violet/burgundy color that peaks from the bottom side of the leaves – it’s stunning and really elevates any decor. Another unique characteristic about the Velvet Calathea is its tactile property – as the nickname says, this plant actually feels like velvet.

Plus, this plant is very office and house-friendly, which makes it even more appealing. In this guide I will cover everything you need to know about the best conditions for your Calathea Rufibarba’s growth:

How to grow Calathea Rufibarba

How to grow Calathea Rufibarba

Similarly to other Calathea plants, the Fuzzy feather (a commonly known name for Calathea Rufibarba) is also effortless to keep healthy and lush.

Other than the elliptic, green-burgundy foliage, another feature that makes the Velvet Calathea even more beautiful is the position of its large yellow flowers that grow underneath the leaves.

Those flowers add bright colors to any room and provide that tropical atmosphere that Calatheas are known for.

A great thing about Calathea Rufibarba is that you can plant it during the entire year – there’s no specific month or season when you should do it.

You can also prune it during any season, which makes the care for this plant much easier and care-free.

The plant grows up to 60 cm, and it’s usually a moderately slower grower, which is excellent if you don’t have time to replant it often.

Expect to have those beautiful yellow flowers for the majority of the year.

The only things you should pay attention to when caring for Velvet Calathea is to provide enough humidity, place it in the shade, and avoid watering it with hard water, but more on that later!

Before talking about all of the aspects of the ideal conditions for the plant’s growth, let me remind you about other types of Calatheas plants so that you can more-or-less understand the similarities as well as differences between them.

Related: Calathea – The Ultimate Caring Guide

Different types of Calatheas

We already talk about a lot of Calathea beauties on this website. 

Here’s a little reminder:

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

While all of them are very beautiful to have as office plants, and usually require similar conditions, there are some significant differences when it comes to their care.

In my opinion, Velvet Calathea is one of the prettiest types of Calathea plants because of its unique color and super soft feel.

As you may already know, all of these plants are very easy to maintain and take care of. 

That’s why they are very popular as indoor plants, especially for people who don’t have much time for gardening.

Whichever type of Calathea plants you choose, make sure to learn the basics about watering, light exposure, fertilizing, etc. so that you can enjoy its beauty all year. 

Now let’s talk about the Fuzzy feather’s watering, soil, temperature, and other important conditions that will help your plant thrive!

How Often to Water Calathea Rufibarba 

How Often to Water Calathea Rufibarba

The only effort your Velvet Calathea will require from you is frequent watering.

During this plant’s growing period (end of spring-beginning of autumn), you’ll have to add water to the soil more-or-less every second day.

Calathea Rufibarba, similarly to the majority of other Calathea plants, loves moist soil without puddles.

Make sure to check the dampness of the potting mixture (2 cm under the surface) before adding water – if it still feels moist, skip the watering, but if it’s dry, it’s time to add some water.

Avoid over-watering it because if there’s too much water, the roots of your Calathea Rufibarba will rot.

When it comes to winter months, you should water the plant less, usually by checking the dampness of the soil.

Another thing to avoid is watering the plant with hard, tap water, as well as cleaning the leaves with it.

Even if you fail to water it enough and you notice the leaves turning brown, you don’t have to worry as the plant will recover as soon as you water it. 

Self-watering pots are the best way of ensuring your Calathea Rufibarba gets the moisture it needs to grow healthy. 

If you decide to go with regular pots, make sure to purchase ones with drainage holes to ensure that the excess water will be released in order to avoid rotting.

You should keep in mind the pH level of the water you’re using for the Calathea Rufibarba, as it prefers the neutral pH – around 7.

The Ideal Light Exposure and Temperature for Calathea Rufibarba

The Ideal Light Exposure and Temperature for Calathea Rufibarba

Even though this plant is an indoor plant, which means that it dislikes direct sunlight, keeping it next to a window also isn’t the best solution. 

Fuzzy Feathers plant thrives when placed in full shade or at least scattered light. Choose an office or home corner that’s far from the window, with nice shade, and your Calathea Rufibarba will enjoy it.

Some of the best areas in your home or office will be the bathroom or kitchen as they are usually darker than the rest of the house as well as warmer and more humid.

When we talk about temperature needs, this plant, like any other Calathea plant, prefers being in warm rooms, ideally with the temperature from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius. 

However, during winter, these plants can survive lower temperatures but never below 15 degrees Celsius.

If the plant is too cold, you’ll notice it by the appearance of damaged leaves.

Calathea Rufibarba Humidity Requirements 

This velvet beauty loooves humidity! That’s why it thrives when kept in the bathroom.

Still, this plant is so stunning that it would be a shame keeping it there since it won’t get the attention it deserves. 

If you don’t want to keep it there non-stop but only occasionally for the humidity “boost” make sure to provide enough humidity around it.

The best way to do it is to give it a good spray of water every day while keeping it at a warm temperature.

You can also invest in a small air humidifier that you’ll keep close to the plant. 

As soon as you notice the leaves turning brown, step up the humidity around your Calathea Rufibarba.

Related: Best Plant Humidifiers and a Buying Guide.

What Kind of Soil to Choose for Calathea Rufibarba

Since Velvet Calathea loves being in damp soil, the best compost to choose is the one that retains enough moisture without creating puddles and causing the roots to rot.

A breathable potting mixture made of sand, dried leaves, and soil with fibers is the ideal environment for this plant’s growth. 

If you’re not able to find sand, you can substitute it with perlite since it will also offer the right amount of moisture without making the soil soggy. 

This is crucial for the potting mixture – it does have to retain water, but not too much – balance and right ratio is the key.

If you’re not interested in making your own mixture, you can surely purchase one in a shop, but make sure to look for soil made for Calathea plants specifically.

The good thing about these plants is that they all have the same water and, therefore, soil requirements.

Calathea Rufibarba Fertilization

The first thing you should keep in mind about the feeding of Calathea Rufibarba is that during winter months (from the beginning of autumn), you should stop using fertilizers until the next growing season (in spring).

When it comes to warm months, you should add the fertilizer to the soil every two weeks for optimal growth and lush foliage.

The best plant food to use is a liquid fertilizer that’s high with nitrogen.

You can also go with the fertilizer that releases the nutrients slowly. The best time to use them is when planting or transplanting Calathea Rufibarba.

This plant food is usually in the form of pellets, and it’s really easy to use.

When & How to Prune Calathea Rufibarba

When & How to Prune Calathea Rufibarba

Even though the best advice I could give you about Velvet Calathea pruning is to wait for the yellow leaves to dry and fall down naturally, you can also prune them if you find them too unattractive.

As for the ideal time for pruning, you can do it during the entire year without any problem, as long as the leaf is yellow.

All you need to do is cut the stem of the leaf as seamlessly as possible with a pair of gardening scissors.

Pruning can be useful if there are too many yellow/dry leaves because the plant will spend unnecessary energy and nutrients on them instead of other, healthy parts.

That’s why light pruning won’t be harmful; just make sure you’re careful and don’t damage the healthy leaves.

How to Propagate Calathea Rufibarba

Propagating Calathea Rufibarba is a bit complicated process since it needs to be done by division and not from the seed (seeds are difficult to find).

You need to have patience and be very careful while doing it. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sharp knife
  • New pot
  • Soil mixture
  • Plastic bag

The first thing you’ll need to do is carefully take the plant out of the container.

Then you should clean the soil from the roots, but you need to be super-gentle not to damage them.

Detangle as much as possible and look for the stems of the plant.

Gently cut the stem without the roots, and then replant the old plant into the pot.

When it comes to the stem, place it into the damp soil (that you usually use for Calathea Rufibarba).

The pot should be placed inside a plastic bag (surrounded with it) to keep the area humid.

Then, you should keep the container with the stem in a dark, humid place until the roots start growing.

Then you can take care of the plant as you usually would.

If you’re wondering “when is the best time to propagate Calathea Rufibarba?” the answer is – during the growing season (spring and summer).

Replanting Calathea Rufibarba – A Step By Step Guide

Since Velvet Calathea grows moderately, it will require replanting once every two years.

The best period to do it is the end of winter, right before its growing phase.

Here are all of the steps you should follow for easy replanting!

1. Choose the container

The first thing you need to take care of is choosing the right planter.

Your new pot should be slightly larger than the previous one, but not too large.

Roots of Fuzzy Feathers need enough space to develop and breathe.

Still, Calathea Rufibarba needs moist soil to thrive, and a pot that’s too large may require more water.

That’s why you should go with a container that’s about 20% larger than the old one.

Choose either the self-watering pot or the one with the drainage holes to avoid over-watering.

2. Pull the plant out

Gently hold the bottom of the plant as close to the soil as possible.

Carefully pull it out, making sure you’re not damaging the roots.

You can use gardening tools if needed, but be careful.

3. Prepare the new container

Fill one half of the new planter with the Calathea Rufibarba soil mixture that includes sand and dry leaves.

The mixture should be damp.

4. Place the plant

Clean the roots of the plant a little bit and then place it inside the new container.

Fill the rest of the planter with the same potting mixture.

5. Add water & fertilizer

Once you’re happy with the result, add your preferred fertilizer. Water thoroughly and let the excess drain.

Keep in a shaded, warm, and humid place.

Calathea Rufibarba Common Issues and How to Solve them

Calathea Rufibarba Common Issues

Even though the Fuzzy Feathers plant is easy to take care of, it still can have some problems that you should recognize in order to solve them.

If you’re wondering which issues you could expect, I’m here to share my experience!

Red spiders

These are the only pests that you can expect with Calathea Rufbarba, and they are easily removable.

You should clean the leaves with a damp cloth regularly to avoid the accumulation of Red spiders.

If you notice the bottom of the leaves getting yellow, use fresh water to clean them, and the plant will quickly recover.

Brown leaf edges

As soon as your Calathea Rufibarba lacks humidity, you’ll notice its leaves turning brown on the edges.

You can either give the plant a spray of distilled water every morning, purchase an air humidifier, or bring it to the bathroom every once in a while to enjoy the humidity.

Leaves fade and lose the texture

As said, all Calatheas love indirect sunlight, or even being in the shade.

All of the Calathea plants dislike direct sun exposure, Calathea Rufibarba included.

The direct light may cause the leaves to fade and become pale, as well as lose their unique patterns and, in this case, fuzzy texture.


Why is my Calathea Rufibarba not growing?

There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question since the successful growth of Velvet Calathea depends on multiple conditions. Still, the first thing you should try is adding plant food into the soil and then follow your plant’s response. The lack of growth can also be caused by insufficient light exposure as well as too much of it. Change your Calathea Rufibarba’s place until you find the light conditions that are perfect for the plant.

Does Calathea Rufibarba clean the air?

Yes! Fuzzy Feathers plant will improve the air quality inside your home. That’s another reason why it is one of the best house and office plants out there. Not only does it look good, but it is also healthy for you, as well as easy to maintain.

Should I water Calathea Rufibarba with tap water?

If the tap water in your home isn’t too hard, using it to water Calathea Rufibarba is an okay solution. However, you should let the water sit during the night in order to make sure that the chlorine and other chemicals evaporate. Also, make sure to check the pH level of your tap water, and its overall quality. If it’s too high in chemicals, go with distilled water instead, as the chemicals can be harmful and damage the plant.

What diseases can Velvet Calathea have?

Luckily, there aren’t any diseases that Calathea Rufibarba could have, which makes it a stress-free, easy to grow plant everyone wants in their homes.

What causes curly leaves on Calathea Rufibarba?

This problem usually occurs if your plant receives too much light and not enough water. It can also be caused by the water that’s too hard, or by the quality of the soil. Try changing each component at a time and monitoring your plant’s reaction.

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