The Highly Sought-After Houseplant Calathea Orbifolia

This beautiful 'drama queen' is bound to add dramatic interest to your houseplant collection and is very much on-trend.

By: THURSD. | 11-11-2021 | 4 min read
Indoor Plants

With its large leaves and striking veins, calathea orbifolia is a real eye-catcher in your home. And, great added value, it also purifies the air. This plant is sometimes called a 'drama queen' because it comes with some requirements but will absolutely thrive with the right plant care.

The Calatahea Orbifolia is a Must-Have Purchase

The calathea orbifolia’s oversized leaves are striped with silvery bands that are tastefully beautiful in a simple way. It’s one of those plants that triggers a must-have purchase – but calathea orbifolia care can be a challenge if you want to keep your plant looking radiant. This article will explain what needs to be done to care for calathea orbifolia and keep it looking like the tropical beauty you fell in love with.

Origin of the Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia is a species of prayer plant. It belongs to the Marantaceae family and its roots are in tropical regions of America, Brazil, and Colombia. The botanical name calathea is derived from the Greek 'calathus' - meaning basket. And it probably owes its name to the fact that the inhabitants of South America use the leaves of the calathea to cover their roofs, make baskets, and pack food.

Thursd Wide Feature The Highly Sought-After Houseplant Calathea Orbifolia Image via Green Bubble

The calathea orbifolia is one of approximately 20 species in the calathea family. This beautiful houseplant is highly sought after thanks to the exquisite beauty of its large, round leaves, and its air-purifying qualities. The striking foliage is subtly striped with pale silver-green markings, with the undersides of the leaf also being a pale silver-green. A plant that is bound to add dramatic interest to your houseplant collection and is very much on-trend.

How to Take Care of Your Calathea

A South American prayer plant kept for its clean, designer-quality foliage, orbifolia is one of the largest calatheas. Its bold oval leaves can grow over a foot across – it makes a classic statement plant.

The Highly Sought-After Houseplant Calathea Orbifolia Must-Have Plant
Calathea orbifolia via @urlocalplantboy

Calatheas can be fussy when it comes to caring for them and the orbifolia is no exception. Its attractive foliage and well-balanced profile attract smitten owners, some of whom sadly watch the lovely plant slowly disfigure itself and decline. Why? Because love is unfortunately not enough.

Watering Your Plant

The calathea originally grows in the rainforest and therefore prefers high humidity. Especially in winter, when the air is drier indoors, you can make it happy by spraying it with water every now and then. This plant is also not the easiest to water: it is a thirsty plant that doesn't like wet feet at all. Therefore, it's advisable to give it a little bit of water at a time to ensure the soil remains slightly moist but the roots of your calathea orbifolia don't get soggy.

Even the type of water needs to be considered - the calathea doesn't like calcareous water, which gives them brown edges on their beautiful leaves. It's best to collect rainwater instead and let it get to room temperature before watering your plant because it doesn't like cold water either. What a drama queen!

Light & Temperature

As with most variegated plants, the calathea needs plenty of diffused light. Direct sunlight will cause the leaves to fade and lose their markings. They can tolerate some degree of shade, but the more indirect light, the finer the foliage. The calathea orbifolia prefers warm to high temperatures, ideally between 18-23°C, but can cope with as low as 15°C. Avoid draughts and ensure the plant has reasonable ventilation.


The Highly Sought-After Houseplant Calathea Orbifolia Prayer Plant
Picture via @floriculturajasmimpelotas


The challenge of growing calatheas indoors is caring for them properly in summer and winter. Calatheas are sensitive to sudden temperature changes. So, keep them away from cold drafts, such as the air-conditioner airflow or open windows. In winter, make sure and keep the orbifolia plant pot far away from radiators. High humidity levels are a must. Mist frequently to improve humidity conditions and pop it near the shower from time to time to give it an extra boost.

Feeding tip: Apply a weak dose of a nitrogen-rich foliage fertilizer once or twice a month during the growing season.

Calathea Orbifolia in the Center of Attention

The calathea orbifolia loves being in the center of attention and doesn't mind your regularly checking up on it. Especially when it comes to the watering and humidity needs of this plant. And don't freak out if your calathea's leaves look a little droopy sometimes, because that happens naturally during the day with some calatheas, and then at night they will sit more upright. However, if leaf droop is combined with dry air and soil, it's time to give your plant some extra loving.



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