Calathea Setosa: A Complete Guide

One of the most remarkable plants you can have around your house or garden is the Calathea setosa, adorned with dramatic foliage that you simply can’t help but be impressed by.

In the article below, we’ve put together a complete guide on Calathea setosa that offers an overview of its origin and general features, a detailed description of its characteristics, as well as a thorough discussion to explain the care requirements of this stunning plant. Let’s jump in!

Calathea Setosa — an Overview

Native to the rainforest of Central and South America, the setosa is a tropical plant that loves shady, warm, and moist conditions. They can grow quite tall, so you’re going to need plenty of room for this Calathea cultivar to thrive.

The popularity of the setosa as an indoor plant is increasing by the day, and a huge part of this is thanks to distinctly beautiful leaves. Also called Grey Star, Never never plant, and Prayer plant, the Calathea setosa is everything a statement plant should be.


It has thick leaves where the top side shows off a bold pattern of light silvery-grey and dark green stripes, whereas the undersides feature a lovely variation of unique purple shades.

Calathea Setosa leaves

The colors alone will catch your visitors’ eyes right when they walk into the room, but the mesmerizing effect of its appearance is further amplified by the elongated shape of the leaves and the staggering length of the plant reaching more than 3 feet high!

Maintenance and Ease of Care

Maintenance-wise, it’s no secret that plants of the Calatheas genus can be somewhat demanding in general. Luckily, the setosa is on the easier side of the care spectrum, which is good news for folks who aren’t green thumbs per se.

Still, a certain level of care is due to ensure that your plant grows healthy and stays pretty. A lot of people get attracted to the handsome foliage and the grand aesthetics of the setosa, yet only some of them manage to keep it that way.

If you don’t want to watch your gorgeous plant gradually deform and die out, dedicate time to familiarize yourself with the optimal care routine for the setosa. We promise — it’s simpler than it seems.

Although a couple of the most important conditions for the Calathea setosa to flourish are consistently moist soil and high humidity levels, many of the plant owners who often rave about how the ease of keeping a setosa fail to mention that they live in a tropical climate.

As such, if you reside in a place where the climate is on the dry side, you should be aware that you’re at a disadvantage. That said, caring for a Calathea setosa isn’t as scary as it seems as long as you understand what the plant does and doesn’t like. and you’ll do fine.

Usually, providing jungle-like conditions of ample humidity, partial shade, and warmth is all that it takes.


If your house has children and/or pets running about, you have nothing to worry about in the safety department as the Calathea setosa is considered non-toxic. This plant is pet-friendly, so keeping it around dogs and cats shouldn’t cause issues.

Still, it’s in your kids’, pets’, and plants’ best interest to place the setosa out of little hands’ and paws’ reach just in case.


The Calathea setosa was difficult to find once upon a time, but it’s becoming easier to get your hands on one as more house plant/gardening enthusiasts are showing interest in the plant.

Calathea Setosa — Growth and Characteristics

A member of the Marantaceae or the Prayer Plant family, the Calathea setosa is an evergreen, perennial plant that originates from the forests of Central and South America.

If you’ve never owned a prayer plant before, chances are you’ll be surprised the first time you glance at your setosa and notice that its leaves seem like they’ve somehow moved. Don’t worry, this shifting isn’t your mind playing tricks on you, it’s just what a prayer plant does!

Like other Calatheas, the setosa has highly animated foliage that changes position throughout the day. When the sun goes down, the leaves fold upright at their base on the stem so it looks as if the plant is praying by raising its leaves, demonstrating the phenomenon known as nyctinasty.

Like many Calathea cultivars, the setosa thrives in partial shade but it can survive when light is short. However, it can’t endure direct sunlight. The plant’s leaves are elongated and somewhat tapered while its leaf stems are hairy, which explains the “setosa” in the name.

Color-wise, the leaves have a bold pattern of light silvery-grey and dark green stripes on the top, with different shades of purple on the underside. Height-wise, the Calathea setosa can grow as tall as 3 feet or more.

Calathea Setosa: leaves against a white background

Hardiness zone

The Calathea setosa is a great houseplant, but if you’re planting it outdoors, aim for hardiness zones USDA 9 -11. There’s no problem in keeping this plant outside in the summer and bringing it back in during the fall, you just need to make sure it doesn’t get exposed to the cold — even if it’s for a short time.

The growing speed of your setosa -as the case of any indoor plant- is affected by how well you can provide suitable flourishing conditions. Generally, though, Calatheas don’t grow very and become almost dormant when winter hits.

Another thing to keep in mind is the rhizome-like structure of this plant’s roots, which makes them prone to rot. As such, you should use a soil mix that offers good but not too much drainage as the setosa isn’t a fan of dry soil.


If you’re expecting your Calathea setosa to bloom, don’t get your hopes up as it depends entirely on its growing environment. While it’s more likely to occur in the wild, it’s quite rare for the setosa to flower when it’s grown indoors.

If it does bloom, the color of the produced blossoms is white. In this case, these flowers remain insignificant compared to the true star of the show — the lavish foliage that shows off intriguing patterns of alternating light silver and dark green bands.

Calathea Setosa — Care Requirements

Now that you have a better idea of the features and characteristics of the Calathea setosa, let’s discuss the details of how you should care for this tropical plant:


In the wild, the Calathea setosa thrives in the jungle’s bright shade, so you should try to mimic that as best as possible at home. Do so by placing the pot somewhere with partial shade.

Avoid putting the plant in direct sunlight because being exposed to such excessive brightness can damage the leaves or cause their colors to fade. Similarly, exposing your setosa to too much shade can make the leaves lose their variegation.

Ideally, you should keep your setosa in a spot with partial shade by a window where indirect sunlight is available.

If you’re not sure your plant is receiving sufficient light, test the light conditions in the designated spot by reading in it. If you can do it easily, then it’s good enough for the setosa.


When it comes to suitable indoor temperatures for the Calathea setosa, anywhere between 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) should be fine.

The plant can endure a few degrees higher temperature, but too much heat will cause its leaves to start curling. It also can’t tolerate anything lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), in which case signs of damage will quickly appear on the leaves.


Proper watering is crucial to keeping your Calathea setosa healthy and thriving.

The most important thing to remember in this aspect is that you should prevent the soil from ever becoming completely dry. This will cause the leaves to deteriorate.

Keep in mind that a major sign of the plant needing more water is its leaves being less animated. So, if you notice your setosa not folding up at night like usual, review your watering schedule.

The tropical nature of the setosa means that its solid should stay consistently moist, but not drenched. You can use a moisture meter or check the soil with your fingers every couple of days or so to make sure the moisture level is just right.

When you find that the top inch or two of the solid is almost dry, it’s time to rewater. This technique keeps you from overwatering, saving the plant from root rot and other diseases.

Calatheas -in general- require you to have good knowledge of the suitable watering frequency and method of their cultivars. If you want to keep the soil moist for the longest possible period, use a moisture-locking plastic pot fitted with a decorative pot that has no drainage holes.

You can also try adding a layer of pebbles at the very bottom of the outer pot to raise the inner pot, incorporate some moisture into the surrounding air, and generate decent drainage.

The frequency of watering your Calathea setosa should be about 2 times per week, but still, test the soil before each watering to make sure it’s not soggy. Once winter rolls in, you can reduce the frequency of watering to once a week and allow the top layer of the soil to slightly dry.

Another thing to note is the temperature of water you use when watering during cold months. Be sure to use room temperature water to avoid problems caused by overly chilled water.

Also, make sure you use purified or filtered water for your Calathea setosa because it doesn’t react well to water salts, chlorine, and old fertilizer accumulations. If you see discoloration on the leaves, the culprit may be the quality of the water.


Humidity is another key factor in caring for a Calathea setosa. Ideally, you should provide the plant with at least 50% humidity.

Although it can withstand a drier atmosphere, the appearance of the plant will suffer. Using a hygrometer will help you maintain the optimal humidity for your setosa.

Here are a few ways you can boost the humidity levels for your plant your home:

  • A natural way of increasing the humidity is moderate grouping. This works only if you own more than one plant as you’ll need to put them near each other to allow for mutual transpiration to happen.

Make sure the plants aren’t too close to avoid sharing pests or interrupting airflow.

  • Place your setosa in a particularly humid spot such as bathrooms. If your bathroom has a window and enough space, it’ll be perfect for this plant.

Laundry rooms and kitchens can also be good spots for this purpose. Also, if you want a quick way to raise the humidity levels of the room by 5 or 10 percent, hang your damp clothes to dry where your setosa is.

  • Establish a misting schedule to replenish humidity around your plant regularly. Choose a sprayer that generates.
  • Finally, the ultimate method to increase/control the humidity of your plant’s room is to use a humidifier.

Soil and Fertilizing

Last but not least, you should pay attention to the type of soil and fertilizer you’re offering your Calathea setosa. This is essential for healthy growth and appearance.

Calathea Setosa: leaves beside other plants

The soil should hold moisture evenly while still being quick-draining, but not too fast. Additionally, you should enrich it with organic fertilizer, preferably a weak liquid one throughout the growing season.

Stay away from inorganic fertilizers for your Calathea setosa as they can harm its roots. Using compost is a good option because it contains beneficial natural nutrients for the plant and helps the soil’s drainage and moisture.

Wrap Up

There you have it, everything you need to know about the uniquely stunning Calathea setosa, from its origin and general features to its special characteristics and care requirements.