Calathea Burle Marx: Important Care Tips

Do you need a houseplant that won’t give up on you easily? Then, the Calathea Burle Marx is your go-to.

Calathea is such an easy-care exotic plant that will add so much beauty to any space. With its colorful dark green fishbone pattern on the light green leaves, Calathea Burle Marx creates an artistic contrast in your home.

It would look great on the floor, in a corner, and on a coffee table. You could also set it as an eye-catching centerpiece on a large table.

And since it’s native to Brazil, the plant loves humidity and moisture, which makes it a perfect lively fit to your bathroom.

Two things to cover to rock growing a Calathea; humidity and shade. Keep it away from direct sunlight and maintain its humidity and moist soil. Calathea will thrive and add that colorful tropical feel to any room.

Calathea Burle Marx Overview

The Calathea Burle Marx pronounced [kal-uh-THEE-uh], is named in honor of Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian artist and landscape architect.

It’s also known as Fishbone Prayer Plant, which it gets from the striped fishbone pattern on its widespread leaves.

And the way the leaves close upwards together during the night is what earned it a part in the Prayer Plants (Maranta) Family part of the name.

No worries though, the leaves are photophilic (meaning they need the light to grow), so they will stretch out again when the sun comes out. This happens so that leaves can absorb the most amount of light possible through their surface.

The family of Calatheas also includes many unique tropical plants. All these plants share different patterns of leaves in vast arrays of shades, colors, stripes, and veining. They’re named and known accordingly by nicknames like the zebra plant, peacock plant, and rattlesnake plant.

Calatheas arenative to southern Central America, south to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, where they grow wild in humid forests, by mountainsides, and near waterfalls or streams.

Calathea Burle Marx plants

Shape and Size

Calathea Burle Marx is anevergreen plant which means that its foliage will remain green all year long.

During the daytime, you can see long oval light green leaves with dark green, V-shaped strikes. At night, when the plant folds to its praying shape, you can see the vibrant underleaf reddish color.

Since it’s a low-growing plant, it doesn’t exceed 12 inches. To be specific, its pot size is almost 5 inches and the overall plant height, including growing pot, is 10-12 inches.

Reasons to Grow a Calathea

Calathea Burle Marx has an excellent reputation as a houseplant.

It can be grown indoors easily with the right amount of water and sunlight. However, indoors doesn’t mean that you need to worry about toxicity hazards, as it’s child and pet-friendly.

To be precise, it’s the total opposite of toxic. A Calathea is good for your health.

Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and some pollutants, then release oxygen. Plants are nature’s air purifier.

A Calathea plant is as easy to find as it is easy to grow. You can easily find it at your local garden center or purchase it online.

How to Care For a Calathea Burle Marx

Due to their low maintenance, Calatheas are a household pop star. However, Calathea Burle Marx needs the usual soil, water, sunlight, and temperature mixture to keep it healthy.


A Calathea is an indoor plant, and it tolerates shade, but indirect light will keep it thriving.

An excellent time and place will be morning light and next to a window with translucent curtains to filter the bright sunlight. Luckily, it also reacts to indoor blue/UV light.


Just like all plants, highly chlorinated water is toxic and will cause the leaves to crisp and fall. But chlorine itself in low levels—tap water— is beneficial and helps eliminate harmful microorganisms.

Other than this, watering Calathea is easy; do not overwater so roots won’t rot. And don’t let all the soil go dry, as your plant won’t like it, and the leaves will drop.

How often should you water it? Preferably twice a week. Lukewarm water is best, hence tropical. So avoid cold water.


Keep the soil a little moist. How do you know? A pro tip is to stick your finger to the first knuckle in the soil to make sure this top layer is dry before watering.

Don’t let the soil dry completely. Calatheas don’t like it. A good rule that helps me; I let only the surface of the soil dry. Then water it until the water starts coming out from the draining holes and stop. This helps me make sure that water reaches the roots, but the soil isn’t soggy.

Use regular potting soil with a mixture of sand to help with the draining.


A pot with drainage holes is necessary to help drain excess water and avoid rotting the roots. Of course, pots are a work of art themselves. But besides the looks, choosing the right pot directly affects your plant.


Treat this beauty with diluted liquid fertilizers every other week. It only needs to be fed during its growing seasons (spring and summer). Make sure to cut the fertilizers completely during winter. 

A Calathea pot


Once a month, the wide, green, fanlike leaves need a wipe down to remove the dust with a soft, damp cloth to keep them nice and shiny.


Calathea Burle Marx’s active growing temperature ranges from between64ºF to 75ºF.As an indoor plant, the average room temperature is ideal for Calathea Burle Marx.

Just avoid freezing temperatures. It is an exotic plant, after all.

You can take your plant outside for some time, but only in warm and shaded conditions.


Calathea Burle Marx loves it! You can keep it in high humidity levels up to 80 %. If your home doesn’t get very humid, maintain regular misting.

Trimming and Pruning

A Calathea is a slow-growing plant. It won’t need trimming or pruning often. Growing horizontally, you might only do that if you want to control its shape and look.

Pruning is always helpful to encourage fresh new growth. But it’s only needed when there are dead and yellow, brown and damaged, or overgrown leaves.


You will need to re-pot to a bigger pot only every couple of years when the roots start to crowd out in the pot.

Sneak peek to the roots. If they are pot-bound, you’ll need to re-pot. Pot-bound means that the roots don’t have room to grow, or they are coming out from the drainage holes.


When? The best time is during spring. How? By division.

Unlike other plants, Calatheas can’t be propagated by cutting stems or leaves. Remember to be as gentle as possible so you won’t damage the roots.

Calathea’s Common Problems and Their Causes

Yes, Calathea demands special requirements, but it is just like another house plant. It gives you easy clues to what it needs. And most problems can be avoided by maintaining a proper watering routine and exposure to light.

Color Change

If your plant’s leaves turn brown, then it’s the temperature. It is either too high or too low. If Calathea leaves are turning yellow, your plant needs more water.

Drooping and Curling

Drooping means not curling. This most likely happens when the plant is receiving too much water.

On the other hand, curling leaves (not the normal nighttime curling) is a cue that the leaves are trying to save energy. A dehydrated plant will curl up its leaf.

Not Folding at Night

The darkness is what causes the leaves to close at night. It may not be dark enough at night for the leaves to fold.

Root Rot and Fungal Infections

These are two of the common diseasesfor house plants. Both can be prevented by avoiding too much moisture.

Patterns on Leaves Start Fading

Too much sunlight! Direct sunlight will cause the leaves to fade and lose their special marks. Simply move it to an even less shaded place with much less direct sunlight.

Other Persisting Problems

The main threats include fungal rot, mealybugs, and spider mites. If you find any fungal growth, lessen the watering and cut the infected leaves or stems.

Pests can be removed with pesticides or soapy water.

Color changes on a Calathea leaf


Does Calathea Burle Marx produce flowers?

It doesn’t have fragrant flowers, but it produces clusters that appear on the end of a stalk that grows through its thick foliage.

How can I increase humidity for my Calathea?

You can use an electric humidifier, a pebble tray, or just grow a group of plants close together to increase the humidity.


The adaptability of the Calathea Burle Marx in indoor environments makes it a great choice for your home or even your office.

The colorful fishbone dark green pattern on the light green leaves and the rich red color on its underleaf are such a lovely ornamental piece of art.

With the least maintenance, a Calathea gives your room a rich and vivid feel. It doesn’t take much space, but it adds a lot of lively joy to your space.

Watching its leaves fold and spread through the day is just like having a laid-back non-demanding pet.