How to Care for Calathea Lancifolia

A white pot of Calathea Lancifolia

Calathea plants with the genus name lancifolia are a common house plant growing in many homes across the country today. It is a recognized member of the Marantaceae family and is commonly referred to as the Rattlesnake Plant, thanks to the striking patterns on its leaves. Long and narrow, the leaves are striking and unique, with a ruffled and rippling look exclusive to this Calathea species. They are often described as arrow or lance shaped leaves.

Calathea Lancifolia is native and grown outdoors in the Brazilian rainforests. It thrives in bright shade locations rather than direct sunlight conditions. It has become a desired houseplant grown indoors due to its striking colors and unique foliage arrangement. Once established, it is an excellent houseplant, though sudden temperature changes can affect plant growth and vitality overall.

The plant can reach a mature height of around 30 inches tall and have a rosette and clumping growth pattern that lends itself well as a potted plant in a variety of containers with good drainage hole applications. The rattlesnake plant produces small yellow flowers mid to late spring in the wild. It is predominately grown as a foliage plant as a houseplant and is enjoyed purely for its striking colors and leaf patterns.


Growing the Calathea Lancifolia Rattlesnake Plant at Home

Calathea Lancifolia rattlesnake plant roots

Rattlesnake plants are popular as attractive houseplants, but they may not be the best choice for a beginner's houseplant collection. They can be a bit picky with their environmental needs. They have very particular heat, light, and moisture requirements that greatly impact the plant's overall vitality. However, the beautiful ornamental leaves that the plant produces are well worth the added effort if you are able and willing to invest in them regularly.

Proper care is essential for getting the most out of your Calathea Lancifolia plant and keeping it looking its best. For example, many homeowners are tempted to use some leaf shine to give the foliage an extra boost to enhance the color and shade. This is not a good idea because these chemicals and additives can harm those attractive leaves.

The most common result of using leaf shine and similar products is the browning of the tips of the leaves. So, it is best to just use a simple damp cloth to remove any dust or debris instead. This will keep the shine and colors bright and help maintain good humidity levels for the plants.

Good plant growth and vitality start at the roots, and by composting at home with Lomi, you can ensure all of your potted plants get the best nutrient-rich soil possible. Everything from the need to avoid direct sunlight and maintain high humidity to tips on how to maintain moist soil conditions will be highlighted in this guide.

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Calathea Rattlesnake Plant Care and Plant Growth Instructions

Closeup of Calathea Lancifolia leaves

While it is a beautiful plant, there are some very important things homeowners need to do to make their Calathea Lancifolia as healthy and stunning as possible when grown indoors instead of being grown outdoors. A certain degree of care is needed when growing plants that are predominantly grown outdoors in nature. 

Plants typical grow best with the most natural of conditions, and here are some ways to mimic normal growing season and conditions indoors for your Calathea:


Rattlesnake Plant Light Requirements

Closeup of Calathea Lancifolia green leaves

In nature, the Calathea Lancifolia grows best in partial shade, so indoors, lower filtered light is the best option. It should get early morning sun if grown near a window, not the direct sun to mimic a normal growing season.


Soil and Draining Requirements

Dark brown compost soil

For soil needs, draining is essential as these plants don't like soggy soil. A light sandy soil or a potting mix of peat and perlite is commonly used. They also thrive in slightly acidic or neutral pH and will wither in alkaline soils.


Mineral Sensitivity

Calathea Lancifolia planted outdoors

Calathea Lancifolia is very sensitive to fluoride and chlorine that can build up in the soil from using tap water regularly and from salts in fertilizer. Flushing the pot and soil will make sure the plant stays healthy.


Leaf Care Requirements

Horizontal image of Calathea Lancifolia leaf

Leaves look their best when clean and dust-free and stay lush and fresh-looking when grown in high humidity. As it is grown for foliage, this is an important consideration when growing Calathea.


Tap Water Sensitivity

Black watering can pouring water onto the garden

Watering can be tricky as these plants need to be watered regularly but kept in well-drained soil at all times. Rattlesnake plants don't like soggy soil, and plant growth can suffer from the use of tap water, so distilled water is preferred.


Humidity Requirements

Close up of Rattlesnake plant green leaves

High humidity is a critical part of growing this Brazilian native, and these plants need at least 50% relative humidity all year. Dry air can brown leaf tips, cold air yellows leaves, and low humidity can also cause damage.


Flower Care Needs

Yellow green leaves of rattlesnake plant

Since this is a foliage plant that flowers rarely in nature, it is not necessary to worry about it when grown indoors. Indirect light and good moisture will keep the plant healthy and maybe even yield flowers.


Plant Temperature Requirements

Temperature monitor installed in the wall

Not all popular house plants are made for indoor temperatures. Ideal room temperatures are around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower room temperatures can lead to rot; higher temperatures will lead to dry, brown, or yellow leaves.


Re-Potting and Root Care

Person putting soil on the pot using a shovel

The Calathea Lancifolia may need repotting every few years in early summer with the right care and environment. This helps protect roots from damage and allows the plant to continue to grow and thrive in your home.


Propagation Requirements

Vertical closeup of Calathea Lancifolia green leaves

It is possible to divide these plants once they mature and are fully grown. The best time to divide is in spring, during active growth, to produce more shoots. Wet pebbles in the pot can also encourage faster rooting overall.


Fertilizing Routine

Person putting compost fertilizer to the garden

Homegrown rattlesnake plants will usually appreciate being fed monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer. A weak dose is often recommended so as not to throw soil pH balance off and provide a little boost to overall growth.

Composting at home using a Lomi kitchen composter can help you offer your Calathea and other potted house plants the best chance of becoming beautiful and vibrant plants.


Common Pests For the Calathea Lancifolia Foliage

Red spider mite crawling on a green leaf

The thick leaves of the rattlesnake plant can make it a tempting buffet for common household pests when grown outdoors. The Calathea can still fall victim to pests when grown indoors, especially when stressed from poor watering, limited light, or cold temperatures. Watch for the usual suspects and know what to look for as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can commonly damage the leaves.

Check the underside of the leaves for bugs since many will hide and feed out of sight. It is important to address the problem quickly when pest problems are noted. Homeowners can use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or plain tap water spray to kill or wash the plants' pests. Regular checks and preventative care will go a long way in keeping your Calathea Lancifolia plants healthy, beautiful, and strong.


Common Problems With Rattlesnake Plant Growth

Even with the best-laid plans and the finest attempts at providing the best of environments, your Calathea Lancifolia indoor plants may start to show some signs that it is not very healthy. The leaves and stems of a rattlesnake plant will first indicate that something is wrong and that the plant is not getting everything it needs to be healthy. Here are common issues that can be addressed for a healthier and more beautiful plant:


Leaf Color or Pattern Fading

Calathea Lancifolia leaf color or pattern fading

A major factor that can affect the health and vigor of your plant is lighting. This simple yet vital aspect is critical for any rattlesnake plant to grow and thrive. If the issue is too much direct sun, green spots and yellow spots may appear on the leaves where the sun is damaging the cells inside.

On the other hand, too little light can cause all of those beautiful and vibrant colors and markings to fade and dull. It can take some trial and error when bringing your rattlesnake plant home for the first time to find the right spot in your home as far as light levels go.


Limp or Rotting Stems

Top view of rattlesnake plant in an outdoor garden

If you see issues with leaves or stems getting soggy, droopy, or rotting, there are two possibilities: overwatering or drafts. When the problem has gotten to this level, it can be challenging to fix short of cutting the plant back and letting it grow fresh from the roots.

Giving your plant too much water and then having the average air temperatures too low can cause root rot to set in. Cold drafts will kill the plant quickly. You can dry it out, trim back the dead roots from the root ball, re poting in a new pot, and then be more mindful of watering routines to prevent a reoccurrence.


Leaf Edges Turning Brown

Calathea Lancifolia leaves edges turning brown

This is another common sign that can indicate issues with water and temperature levels in the home. Dry and brown leaves on your Calathea Lancifolia often signal that the plant lacks proper humidity levels. Without good moisture inside the plant and in the air, the plant will suffer. 

In addition to causing dry and brown leaf tips and edges, too much direct sun can cause the browning leaves to curl. Take steps to add moisture to the area where the plant lives. Also, make sure that low humidity and dry air are not an issue for where your rattlesnake plant is located.


Final Thoughts on the Calathea Lancifolia Plant Growth as a Houseplant

The tropical plant Calathea Lancifolia rarely blooms indoors because it is a little picky regarding the environmental requirements needed for blooming. It grows at a moderate rate indoors with higher humidity and better watering schedules but will stop growing and begin to die off if indoor conditions are not adequate for healthy growth. 

It is developed more for its vibrant foliage than its small yellow flowers, but it is a great plant to have in any indoor plants collection. Plant growth typically shows a direct and obvious response to the indoor environment it is kept in. Hopefully, this guide will serve as a basic introduction to growing the rattlesnake plant at home and show you how the right soil, and with the help of the Lomi kitchen composter, can make all the difference!