There are plenty of Calathea types to choose from. Indeed, with over 300 different species, many Calathea varieties have found their way into our homes and offices. Not only are they relatively easy to care for, but they’re also fun to have around.
Also referred to as prayer-plants, Calatheas got this name due to their nyctinasty. They move their leaves upwards at night and downwards during the day.
There’s also no doubt that Calatheas have some of the most striking foliage. Each Calathea type has its own distinctive patterning and colors. Some have multiple shades of green. Others have reddish-purple or dark purple undersides.
The diverse Calathea types offer so much for so little. For that reason, in this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to identify some of the most popular Calathea types. We’ll also go over the proper conditions to grow and maintain these Calatheas.
The Calathea Beauty Star, true to its name, is a mesmerizing colorful plant. Part of its allure is that each color on its foliage looks like it’s been hand-painted.
On a rich dark green background, the Beauty Star’s foliage is adorned with intricate bright and pale green featherings on either side of the midrib.
What makes the leaves even more colorful, the Beauty Star’s lateral veins are painted with pale pink—giving it the name Pinstripe Plant. In addition, the leaves’ undersides are a rich purple that contrasts well with the dark green.
Calathea Beauty Star has long, narrow leaves with pointed tips. It has a slight ripple along the outline.
For Calathea Beauty Star, your aim should be to provide conditions similar to their native environment.
Beauty Stars thrive in warm, steady temperatures within 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. As for humidity, it’s preferable to keep it higher than 60%. You can regularly mist the leaves to maintain humidity levels.
Like most Calathea varieties, Beauty Star prefers to be placed somewhere with medium to bright indirect light. If placed in direct sunlight for too long, the foliage’s tips and edges may discolor and turn brown.
You want to place Calathea Beauty Star in evenly moist, well-draining soil. To do that, choose a peat-based soil. Then, water it every two to seven days or when the top layer of the soil is dry to touch.
Commonly called the Eternal Flame Plant, Calathea Crocata is a newly introduced Calathea variety. Crocatas can be a bit more demanding than other members of the Calathea family. That’s why houseplant enthusiasts have only recently begun growing them.
The Eternal Flame’s metallic green and purple foliage grow densely and upwards. Ashy brown spikes hold up vividly colored flowers. As a result, the lack of variegation on this plant doesn’t take away from its uniqueness.
Calathea Crocata’s leaves are wavy and oval-shaped with a slightly pointed tip.
The Eternal Flame may grow flowers, but they only appear for a short period of the year. It produces orange-yellow flowers with occasional red sepals on two feet long stalks. In ideal conditions, these flowers can last up to two or three months.
When Calathea Crocatas reach maturity, they grow up to one to two feet tall and wide.
From the minute you bring your Eternal Flame indoors, you must ensure its proper conditions are met. Otherwise, it can become quite fussy.
Native to warm temperatures all year round, Calathea Crocata grows best in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, persistent temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit can harm and even stunt the plant’s growth rate.
Plant your Calathea Crocata in fertile, peat-based, lightweight soil. Then, allow it to enjoy bright indirect or filtered light. The only time you can get away with a little direct sunlight is during winter.
In summer, you should water an Eternal Flame about once a week—twice a week in winter. While this sounds pretty simple, it’s not the only thing you should be mindful of.
Watering an Eternal Flame is perhaps the one thing that makes taking care of the plant a bit bothersome. The reason is that this plant is extremely sensitive to types of water.
You should water Calathea Crocata using distilled water or rainwater. Soft, hard, or fluoridated water are a big no-no.
Calathea Lancifolia, or the Rattlesnake Plant, is a people’s favorite among all Calathea types. It’s also one of the most unique-looking ones. If you have a Rattlesnake Plant, you probably know how much of an attention-stealer it is.
A lot similar to the patterning on a Rattlesnake’s back, Calathea Lancifolia gets its name from the unique reptilian markings and patterns on its foliage.
The Lancifolia’s foliage is green, and the color gets deeper on the oval shapes decorating the leaves’ midribs. These oval shapes are present on both sides of the leaves, with a reddish-purple tint on the undersides.
In addition to its distinctive foliage, Calathea Lancifolia’s size makes it even more visible. It’s one of the taller varieties in the family, growing up to almost 30 inches. As a result, it becomes quite hard to miss in a room.
In the right conditions, the Rattlesnake Plant is considered the easiest to care for out of the Calathea family. That’s why it’s a great place to start your Calathea collection.
The unique Rattlesnake Plant thrives in moist, warm, and partially shady environments. Here’s what you should do:
- Plant your Lancifolia in rich, well-draining soil that’s moist but not sodden.
- Place it somewhere where it can receive bright, indirect light.
- Keep the temperatures around 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Provide ample humidity
- Water frequently during spring and summer. Allow soil’s top layer to dry between watering during winter.
Calathea Makoyanas are also called Peacock Plants or Cathedral Windows. Their enthralling foliage gives any space a tropical feel.
Makoyana plants have glossy leaves with patterns that are quite similar to Calathea Lancifolia’s patterns. The leaves are delicately thin and nearly egg-shaped with a subtle wave.
The bubble-like patterns on a Makoyana leaf are dark green, placed on a light green background. It also has silvery stripes that start at the midrib but don’t reach the lateral veins.
When they reach maturity, Calathea Makoyanas can grow between 12 and 20 inches.
A Calathea Makoyana won’t ask much of you. All it needs is to be placed somewhere warm, humid, and semi-shady.
You won’t have to water it more than once a week during the growing season. In colder seasons, that can be cut back to once every two weeks.
Calathea Ornata, or Pin-Stripe Calathea, is best known for its neat-lined leaves, looking like they were hand-painted.
The flat, smooth leaves of Calathea Ornata are a dark rich green color. This intense green is contrasted with pink stripes that appear like they’ve been hand-painted. They start out at the midrib and end right before they reach the lateral veins.
As the plant matures, these pink stripes begin to fade to white. They may even disappear altogether to be replaced with a faint green.
Calathea Ornata is another undemanding Calathea. One tip to make its colors more vivid is to make sure it receives ample bright indirect light.
Other than that, make sure that it’s placed in a warm, humid room. Water it at least once a week, and make sure that it doesn’t sit in sodden soil for long.
Known as the Rose-Painted Calathea, Calathea Roseopicta is a rare, uniquely shaped, and colored Calathea type.
Because Calathea Roseopictas have many cultivars, each one has its own coloration pattern. They all, however, have one thing in common: a crown of green, silver, pink, or purple that circles the leaf’s margin.
The leaves’ undersides are usually either reddish-purple or deep purple.
Calathea Roseopicta grows well in similar environments as other Calathea. Still, it’s important to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Any direct sunlight can cause the leaves to lose their color. It may even lead to leaf discoloration and, ultimately, scorching.
While their foliage isn’t patterned or variegated, it’s still beautiful enough to be eye-catching. The leaves’ upper surface is a glossy green.
When a Rufibarba bends upwards at night, the deep burgundy of the undersides becomes more visible. The plant’s stems are also burgundy.
In addition to their pretty leaves, Calathea Rufibarbas produce adorable yellow flowers that peek out from underneath the foliage.
Calathea Rufibarba, like most Calatheas, prefers consistent warm, high humidity environments. Nevertheless, they can’t tolerate sodden soils and overwatering. Plant Calathea Rufibarba in well-draining soils and occasionally water them.
To maintain the leaves’ diverse coloration, place your Rufibarba in a brightly lit room. Just don’t place it under direct sunlight to avoid any leaf scorching.
Calathea Warscewiczii is one of the most delicate and popular varieties of Calathea. If you’re having trouble pronouncing the name, you can thank the Polish botanist, Jósef Warszewicz, for that.
Thankfully, it’s commonly known as Calathea Jungle Velvet or Velvet Touch Calathea—a moniker derived from its leaf texture.
Calathea Warscewiczii has dark green, lance-shaped leaves. They’re distinctly marked with fishtail patterns in light green and a purple underside.
This plant is part of the tall Calathea group. It can grow up to three feet tall when it reaches maturity, and every leaf can grow up to 12 inches tall.
During winter and late spring, the Velvet Touch produces creamy yellow and white flowers. These blooms grow on tall spikes that last somewhere between three to four weeks.
Calathea Warscewicziis generally don’t have any specific growing tips. Like most Calathea types, they grow and thrive well under conditions similar to their native environment.
Still, these plants are prone to fertilizer salt burns. For that reason, you should use a water-soluble fertilizer that you can flush out of the soil every couple of months.
9. Calathea Lietzei
Calathea Lietzei is one of the very few Calathea plants with white variegation. This is why it’s also called Calathea White Fusion.
In comparison to other Calathea types, Calathea Lietzei is quite rare. As a result, it isn’t easy to find for sale. Even if you do find it, you may find that it’s more expensive than other Calathea types.
The leaves of Calathea Lietzei are a sight to behold. They’re lanceolate-shaped with streaks of green, white, and silver.
On the upper surface, the leaves are disproportionately green and white. The patterns appear random, with the white streaks looking marble-like. The underside of the plant is, like many Calatheas, purple.
What’s more, the leaves can grow up to 18 inches in length; the entire plant can grow up to almost 24 inches.
Aside from the light requirements, Calathea Lietzei has similar needs to other Calathea varieties.
Calathea White Fusion usually grows at a slower rate than other Calathea. This is due to its heavy variegation. That’s why you should ensure that it photosynthesizes properly.
You can do that by placing your White Fusion somewhere brightly lit. You should also wipe the leaves from any dust and dirt every now and then.
10. Calathea Zebrina
Calathea Zebrina is most recognized for the dark green stripes that closely resemble those of zebras. It comes as no surprise then that it’s more commonly called the Zebra Plant.
The Zebra Plant’s leaves are adorned with broad dark green stripes that extend from the midribs to the leaves’ lateral veins. These zebra stripes are on a thick and velvety canvas of bright neon green.
One of the taller members of the family, Calathea Zebrina, can grow over two feet tall and wide. The leaves can reach more than 12 inches tall. The plant’s size allows the unique variegation to stand out even more.
On some rare occasions, the Zebra Plant can produce small whitish-purple flowers. They grow tucked away underneath and between the leaves, which makes them quite insignificant compared to the pompous foliage.
Calathea Zebrinas aren’t fussy when it comes to maintenance. Their needs are quite similar to most Calathea plants.
All you need to do is give it:
- Medium to bright indirect sunlight
- Evenly moist, well-draining soil
- Temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- Water when the top layer of the soil gets dry
There are numerous reasons why Calatheas are very popular houseplants. The Calathea family has an astonishing range of varieties; each has its own unique rich and bold patterns. They’re also quite undemanding, making them relatively easy to care for.
What’s more, Calathea can contribute to healthier air quality. Calathea varieties are some of the best air-purifying houseplants; they can help reduce certain toxins and pollutants.
Unlike many houseplants, all Calathea varieties are non-toxic to humans and animals. You won’t have to worry about your children or pets’ curious nature in the presence of a Calathea.