Calathea orbifolia, also known as the orbifolia prayer plant, is mainly recognized for its striking green-striped leaves.
This stunning plant is a botanical masterpiece that exudes elegance and captivates with its unique beauty. With its luscious round leaves and intricate patterns resembling the brushstrokes of an artist’s hand, Calathea orbifolia is a true work of nature’s art.
Native to the rainforests of South America, this tropical plant is cherished for its unique foliage and ability to thrive in indoor settings, making it a coveted addition to any plant lover’s collection. Its mesmerizing leaves with silver-green hues and prominent veins create a sense of serenity and tranquility, making it a perfect choice for creating an oasis of natural beauty in any room.
Get ready to be enchanted by the sheer splendor of Calathea orbifolia, a botanical wonder that looks high maintenance but is quite the opposite.
If you’ve been looking to add this tropical beauty to your indoor jungle, this complete care guide is for you.
Botanical Name: Calathea orbifolia
Common Name: Prayer plant, orbifolia prayer plant
Plant Type: Foliage, vine, large type
Hardiness Zones: 11b-12b (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Bright indirect light
Soil Type: Well-draining
Soil pH: Slightly acidic
Height: Up to 3 feet tall
Bloom Time: Anytime, but flowers are small
Flower Colors: Green, cream
Native Area: South America
What’s a Calathea Orbifolia?
The calathea orbifolia is native to Bolivia and enjoys humid and tropical environments that mimic the South American rainforests.
This plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and 12 inches wide, which makes it the largest prayer plant species.
These prayer plants are known for their distinctive broad and oval-shaped leaves that exhibit a green base with light creamery/silvery streaks. With its beautiful green foliage, calathea orbifolia plants make beautiful statement houseplants. This plant’s white flowers are shaped like stars but rarely bloom as houseplants.
Calothea Orbifolia Care
Consistently moist soil, high humidity, regular fertilizing, and even heat are just a few of the basic calathea orbifolia care requirements; as long as you meet or mimic as much as you can this plant’s needs, this tropical plant will thrive among your houseplant collection. Continue reading to learn more about this plant’s care.
Provide bright indirect sunlight, and if possible, place your plant near an east-facing window.
Diffused/filtered light through sheer curtains works too. Orbifolia plants do not tolerate direct sunlight, as leaves will burn and fade in color.
Calathea orbifolia plants tolerate shade but not consistent low lighting conditions throughout the day.
This calathea plant thrives with consistent watering as long as its soil is moist.
Before watering your plant, test the topsoil with your finger, and ensure the top 2 inches are dry.
Use rainwater or filtered water to avoid leaf spots from chemicals and minerals found in tap water. If you only have tap water, fill a container with a lid and let it sit overnight. Fluoride and chlorine present in the water will evaporate.
Humidity levels must be above 50% to keep your calathea orbifolia healthy and happy; however, 60% is ideal for your calathea plant to thrive.
If your house does not offer these humidity levels naturally, you can place your plant in a bright warm bathroom, under a glass dome, or in a large terrarium.
You can also use a pebble tray with water as a base for your plant or place a humidifier nearby.
Regular misting also improves your plant’s humidity levels.
The Calathea orbifolia does not appreciate drought, chilly temperatures, blasting AC, or heating.
These plants need consistent humidity and warmth. Their ideal temperature is between 65°F and 75°F.
This calathea plant has fragile petite roots, so a loose, lightweight potting mix works best.
Because orbifolia plants need plenty of moisture, choose a mix with good water-retaining qualities.
If you’d like to make your own soil mixture, opt for a slightly acidic mix; one part peat moss (or coconut coir), one part vermiculite, and one part perlite.
Applying a small dose of nitrogen-rich fertilizer once a month during the active growing season can help promote healthy, lush foliage.
Do not use fertilizer when the plant is dormant. Very strong or too much fertilizer can scorch the plant’s leaves.
This calathea plant does not have high-maintenance pruning needs or schedules.
Simply removing the dying or dead leave by cutting the stems above the soil line should be enough. This helps direct energy to new and healthier growth.
Always use sharp and clean scissors or pruning shears to reduce fungal disease transferring risk.
Potting and Repotting Requirements
If you can see the roots poking out the pot’s drainage holes, take this as a sign that it’s time to repot. Calathea orbifolia plants are not fans of having their delicate roots messed up, so only repot when you need to.
Pick a new pot around 2-3 inches bigger than the original one, and do not worry about getting the old soil off the rootball. It is better to fill around whatever original soil comes with your rootball instead of attempting to replace it all.
Calathea Orbifolia Propagation
Propagating this calathea plant can be challenging, but it is not impossible.
Because this plant’s propagation is done by rhizome division, you’ll only be able to do this if you have a healthy mature plant.
For best results, consider propagating simultaneously as you are repotting your calathea. Do this in late spring or early summer when temperatures are adequate, and the growth is more vigorous.
Make sure your calathea orbifolia plants are well hydrated before dividing them. Here’s how to propagate your calathea plant:
- Gently remove your calathea plant from the pot, do not pull too hard cause these plants’ roots are delicate.
- Break off the baby clumps that grow along the mother plant side. Keep a tuber root and one leaf. Separate the roots and try not to break them.
- Plant your divided baby sections as soon as possible in a well-drained, loose, sterile potting mix -this plant’s delicate roots should be exposed only for a short time.
- To minimize the plant’s stress and avoid transplant shock, make sure they’re in a warm moist location where it can receive bright indirect light.
- Keep the new calathea plant(s) consistently moist but not saturated or soggy. Cover the division with a plastic bag for a few weeks to help it retain adequate moisture and humidity levels. After around three weeks, remove the bag once you notice new growth.
Common Problems of the Calathea Orbifolia
As you might’ve expected, calathea orbifolia plants are not immune to common issues if they don’t receive proper care and attention.
Here are some problems to keep an eye out for:
Spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, and aphids are common leaf-sucking pests found on calathea orbifolia plants.
For pest prevention, use a damp cloth or insecticidal soap.
Simply wiping down the leaves on a biweekly schedule should keep these pests at bay.
This is mainly caused by too much water. Pay attention to your watering technique and ensure you’re doing it correctly.
Too much or sitting water can cause root rot, so be cautious about over-watering your plants.
Brown Tips and Curly Leaves
Both signs are mainly associated with a lack of humidity or water, so provide a moist environment for your plant.
If you are providing your plant with enough water and moisture, it may be a sign of harsh direct sunlight. Move your plant to a shadier location.
A bit of leaf drooping during the daytime is entirely normal, they should perk right up at night, and you should not worry about it.
However, persistent leaf drops can indicate a lack of water. Make sure you’re providing sufficient water to your calathea plant.
Powdery mildew is a common fungus that often shows up in overly humid conditions.
You can prevent fungal diseases like this or white soil mold by occasionally treating your plant with neem oil or other horticultural oils.
Severely damaged leaves should be pruned off immediately and followed up with a treatment to prevent further spread.
Calathea Orbifolia Toxicity
Like most Calatheas, the Calathea orbifolia is non-toxic and is a safe option if you have pets and kids.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.