Calathea orbifolia is a tropical plant. Its ornamental foliage makes it a common houseplant. Even calathea orbifolia care is challenging people still like it to grow indoors. If you too want to grow it indoors but do not know how to grow and care for it. Then you need to read this article till the end.
Because today we will explain how to care for calathea orbifolia? Take a pencil and paper to make notes.
Orbifolia plants need well-draining soil, temperature between 18 to 25 degrees C. Monthly fertilization is required for optimum growth. Medium bright light and high humidity are necessary.
About the plant
Calathea orbifolia is a perennial plant that means it stays green for 365 days. This flowering plant is a permanent member of Marantaceae.
It is native to South America, Asia and also naturally found in some parts of Africa. In jungles, the plant grows on the floor. The tall tree makes a shed of branches and leaves over the jungle floor.
There it grows in low light. But as we all know the humidity in tropical places is on the higher side. It needs same humidity in all parts of the world.
Unlike other calatheas, this particular species grows at a medium rate. Therefore, it needs a number of fertilizers.
In ideal growing conditions, orbifolia plants grow 3 feet tall. Their leaves spread 1 foot wide.
Many US growers name it a prayer plant. Because it folds its leaves in the evening like the original prayer plant. There are many issues linked to its care and maintenance. All of them are explained in the last section of the article.
Quick Care Summary
3 Feet Tall and 1 Foot wide
Needs high humidity
Required regular moist soil
9b to 11
Pests and Diseases
Thrips, Aphids, Powdery mildew, fungus
Calathea orbifolia care guide
Caring for calathea orbifolia pants is not an easy task. You need to gain some experience before growing this plant. Water and humidity are the two main parts where you need to focus more.
In this guide, we use simple language to explain everything. The secrets of care in this guide will help you to grow and care for calathea orbifolia plants.
Calathea orbifolia light requirements
In its natural place, the plant grows in low light. It needs the same amount of light in all parts of the world. Extreme bright light can damage the plants. Brown leaf tips are the first sign of extra bright light.
The question is how to know the light is neither too low nor too bright.
Take a newspaper and read it in the same light that your plant is receiving. If you find it difficult to read then this means the light to low.
Plants also tell us when the light in the room is low. They stretch their growth towards the light source. The stretchy growth is also another sign of low light.
Put the plant close to the north facing window. If you do not have a north window then put it close to any sunny window. Remember that direct sunlight can damage the plant leaves. Therefore, place it few feet away from the sunny window.
Your aim must be giving it filtered bright light for maximum hours per day.
The soil has to be well fertile. You can make the garden soil extra fertile by amending it with organic compost 1 week before planting it outdoors. The outdoor garden is best to grow this plant only if you live in 9b to 11 USDA zones.
Outside these zones grow it in a plant pot and place it outside in the growing season. Bring the plant pot inside when the temperature drops below 18 degrees C.
For indoor growing, you need well-draining soil. Your garden soil will not work for growing calathea orbifolia in plant pots. You need to use a commercial potting mix.
2 parts potting soil + 1 part perlite + 1 part orchid bark.
All together will make excellent potting soil for growing and caring calathea orbifolia plants.
The advantage of organically rich soil is it has many nutrients in it. All of them are natural nutrients. No synthetic nutrient is involved in the formula. Also, they release nutrients at a slower rate. This makes a chain of nutrients supply. Your plants never go out of nutrients.
Perlite makes the formula aerated and reduces the frequent need for watering. Because it stores the water contents in it. Whenever the plants need water, their roots get it from the perlite pores.
Watering is the main part of calathea orbifolia plant care. In tropical forests, the plant full fill its water needs from rainwater. If you live in a heavy rainfall area. Then you have to store rainwater in rain barrels for your plants. It is best for all types of plants.
It is not possible for all growers to collect rainwater. Therefore, you need to use clean and hygienic water. The water you drink is good for your plants.
Before watering plants check the soil moisture. Only water when the upper 2 inches of soil are dry. Never leave the plant-soil dry for more than 2 days. Your plant will go to shock and its leaves start drying.
Their tips turn into brown color and they lose their glossy looks.
You also need to choose a plant pot carefully. Pots like terra cotta have good aeration properties. This makes the soil dry in few hours. These pots are good to grow plants that need less water and more air.
Plastic-made pots are the best choice for the calathea orbifolia plants. Plastic does not allow dry air to enter into the pot and evaporate the water.
Remember that all calathea plants are sensitive to water quality. The water should not contain any salt or heavy mineral.
High humidity is required to keep the plants glossy. Its shining leaves are the result of perfect light and high humidity. This plant stores water in its leaf tissues. It also absorbs water from the atmosphere. If the atmosphere is dry then the plants will not shine and look weak.
Generally, we have home humidity between 35 to 65 %. Above 50 % humidity is required for calathea orbifolia care.
To increase the humidity the first basic method is grouping the plants together. While grouping them make sure they are not too close to each other. This will block the fresh air flow and increase the chances of infections.
This is a tried and tested method. It will surely increase it by 10 %.
Let’s say you forgot about the humidity and your plants are in problem. At this point, they need instant high humidity and bad luck is you do not have a humidifier.
In this case, put the plants in the bathroom. Because after every shower the humidity in the bathroom goes up to 75% to 85 % for few hours.
On normal days our bathrooms are more humid than the rest of the house.
Pebble tray is the second method. Here you use a tray put some pebbles in it and fill it with water. Then place your plant pot over it. When the dry air in the room touches the tray water. The water gets evaporated and this increases the humidity.
A humidifier is the last option when all other methods fail to increase the air moisture in the room. Buy a humidifier if you grow multiple houseplants and you are living in desert-like areas.
18 degrees C to 25 degrees C is the ideal temperature range. We have the same temperature range in our houses for 365 days. The problem comes when you lock your house and go on holiday for some days. This blocks the air circulation and increases the room temperature.
If the temperature rises just 2 degrees C above the limit. It will not cause any problem. Also, the 2 degrees drop below 18 degrees c will also fine.
The problem starts when the plant stays below 15 degrees C or above 27 degrees C. It has its own temperature controlling mechanism. But that will only work if you give enough water before going out.
Make some arrangements so that the temperature stays in between 15 to 27 degrees C. If you out for few days.
Calathea plants have sensitive roots. Therefore, you need to use soft nature fertilizers. Organic liquid fertilizers are mild and do not cause harm to sensitive roots.
Only fertilize plants in their active growing season. Because at this time they need nutrients to grow tall and spread wide.
Any balanced formula of houseplants will do fine for orbifolia plants.
Propagation of calathea orbifolia
The propagation is a difficult process. Because most of the growers do not get succeeded in this task. They make one mistake and that is they want to copy this plant from its cuttings. But the propagation is only possible from the Rhizome division.
Follow the below steps of propagation
Unpot the calathea plant carefully
Remove the soil from its root without damaging them
Without using tools separate the Rhizomes with your hands.
It should have roots and at least one leaf.
Plant it in pots and put them in a warm humid location.
You’re done with propagation
Repotting calathea orbifolia plants
Repotting is not required if you grow your plant in 10 inches diameter pot. If the pot is small in diameter, then you might need to repot it.
This plant is a medium grower. So, it takes years to get matured. You will not need to repot it before 2 years.
This is a simple process just buy a wider pot than the current pot. Fill it with potting mix and set your plants in it.
Disease and pests
The high humid demand of the plant invites many unwanted diseases like powdery mildew, fungus, and root rot. Among all root rot is deadly for soft rooted plants like orbifolia plants.
Water your plants carefully and avoid all plant diseases linked to over-watering.
Secondly, aphids, mealybugs, and thrips are common pests. They suck the sap of the plant.
All these insects have different shapes and life cycles. But attack one single plant. There are many solutions some are homemade and some are professional solutions.
Spray isopropyl alcohol in infected plants. When the pests come in contact with alcohol, they become dehydrated and die. 4 hours later from the spray use cotton to wipe the dead insects from the leaves and stems.
You can repeat the method two times in one week. If the problem remains the same then your next step should be the use of commercial pesticides.
Before using them read the instructions and spray them outside our home in an open place. Wear gloves and a mask the protect yourself from any harmful effects.