Use code TWOPEAS to get $150 off a Gardyn and membership here.

Calathea Burle Marx: 19 Magnificent Tips

Calathea Burle Marx is a tropical plant with an eye-catching pattern that makes it an excellent choice for indoor gardeners.

In this detailed Calathea Burle Marx plant care guide, we’re diving into the how’s, why’s, and when’s of everything that your Calathea Burle Marx needs to stay healthy.

Find out where to acquire this Ctenanthe and its intriguing features and common hazards.

What Is Calathea Burle Marx?

Calathea Burle Marx is a well-known perennial today because of its attractive foliage.

It is commonly known as Fishbone Prayer Plant, Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii, and Burle Marx Calathea; it has long oval, green, and white stripes with purple underside-colored leaves, making it a beautiful décor for your home. Its leaves sport a fishbone pattern, hence one of its common names.

When Calathea Burle Marx is grown indoors, it can be placed near an east or west-facing window. When raised outdoors, it should be in hardiness zones 9-11 to survive.

Origin And Family

Fishbone Prayer Plant belongs to the Ctenanthe genus in the Marantaceae family. Natively, it’s from the rainforests of Brazil.

As part of the Marantaceae family, this plant also exhibits a behavior known as nyctinasty. This habit is why plants from this family are often referred to as “Prayer Plants.”

Plant cousins Calatheas, Stromanthes, and Marantas are known to be the more sensitive species from this family. The Fishbone Prayer Plant and other Ctenanthes are not as finicky, but they still require some elevated TLC.

Named in honor of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, this plant was first scientifically named and described in 1982 by Dr. Helen Kennedy, an Honorary Research Associate of UBC. This species had been in cultivation for at least a decade before it was named by Dr. Kennedy.

This tropical plant has recently become popular among indoor growers. In early spring, it yields little tiny white blooms.

Where To Buy

Calathea Burle Marx’s are inexpensive to buy, ranging from $15 for immature plants to $30 for mature plants.

The Calathea Burle Marx is available for sale on Etsy, one of the most reliable sites when purchasing plants online. We now buy most of our indoor plants here.

Calathea Burle Marx Plant Size

The Fishbone Prayer Plant is a Ctenanthe plant that grows approximately 12-20 inches tall indoors. Its height, light, and humidity requirements make it ideal for east or west-facing windows.

Calathea Burle Marx Care Needs

Your Calathea Burle-Marxii will grow well when it’s properly taken care of. Known for its exciting foliage, this plant loves humidity and needs evenly wet soil to stay healthy.

When the soil is dry on top, water. Deeply water the pot and drain it. This magnificent plant requires bright indirect light to develop to its full potential.

Check out the complete care guide below for more recommendations!

Care Difficulty

This Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii is generally moderate-to-difficult to care for. The well-draining soil and amount of light are the most important considerations for this beauty.

Growth Rate

The Burle Marx Calathea grows to a mature height of 12-20 inches as a beautiful houseplant. Spring and summer usually see faster and bushier development.

The majority of Ctenanthe species, including the Burle Marx, grow moderately.


This tropical plant does well indoors and adapts to practically any potting medium. Plastic, terracotta, or clay planters work best for most growers.

Most plants require a medium-sized pot. So long as your container contains drainage holes, your plant should be protected from root rot.


As your Calathea Burle Marx develops, you should consider moving it to a larger pot when you see roots push out of the drainage hole. Due to its slow growth, you will need to repot it every two years.

When repotting your Ctenanthe, use a new batch of soil to give its roots more nourishment. Take care not to touch its roots so much; this plant may be more robust than its cousins, but it still doesn’t like its roots disturbed.


For the Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii, a standard commercial potting soil is a suitable choice. Add together components such as peat, perlite, and sand to make your own right kind of soil mix. Remember that this plant prefers a moist growth medium.

Make sure your chosen soil type allows for excellent drainage and aeration so the roots can breathe.

We recommend the following potting mixes:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $13.37 ($0.03 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $16.28 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix,...image Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, Enriched with Plant Food, 2 cu. ft. $34.26
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)


The Burle Marx Calathea prefers an acidic pH of 5.6-6.5. You can test your soil’s pH with an inexpensive pH meter.

To reduce pH, use sulfur or aluminum sulfate. CaCl2, Dolomitic Lime, and Wood Ash can raise pH.


The watering frequency will vary based on the temperature and the humidity in your plant’s surroundings. Generally speaking, your Fishbone Prayer Plant prefers an evenly wet growing medium.

Let the Fishbone Prayer Plant get dry, then water the top two inches. Avoid wetting the leaves to avoid fungus.

Hydrate with filtered or distilled water. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water are damaging to this attractiveness. In the event you must use tap water, let it sit overnight. Another option is rainwater.

Let the water run through the pot. If your plant is in a collection tray, remember to empty it. This plant does not like wet or soggy soil.


Coming from the rainforests of Brazil, this plant is used to receive bright indirect light. 6-8 are the recommended hours of exposure for your Calathea Burle Marx in an indoor setting.

If left under a light that is too bright for long periods, its leaves will burn. Away from the window, use drapes and shades to screen the light.

On the other hand, if your Burle Marx is not getting as much light as it needs, it may grow slowly and get leggy. In this case, you can move your plant closer to a window and supplement it with grow lights. We recommend the following artificial lighting products:

This plant can be employed in any dark region of your house or garden and thrives in partial shade and soft light. Direct sunlight might severely injure or kill your Calathea Burle Marx.


Many indoor growers overlook fertilization, believing that water and indirect light are good sources of nutrition. In reality, soil nutrients are equally as vital to plant health.

In the spring and summer, feed monthly. A balanced liquid fertilizer will work best for your Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii. If you’re using a more potent fertilizer, dilute it first.

In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize.

Propagating Calathea Burle Marx

Reproducing your Calathea Burle Marx can be done with the proper propagation method. Here are some options and thorough instructions to help you out.


Plants with pups emerging from the roots are commonly divided.

To divide your Burle Marx Calathea stem clusters, follow these steps:

1. Dig up. Remove the plant from its pot. The plant’s natural divisions should be visible.

2. Separate. Gently separate the parts using your fingertips. Entangled roots may require shears to sever.

3. Repot. Plant each portion in fresh pots with the same soil.

Humidity And Aeration

Your Calathea Burle Marx needs an ideal humidity level of 60% or higher for rich-colored leaves and lush growth.

If you’re worried about humidity or observe browning edges on your plants’ leaves, buy a humidifier and keep it near them. A pebble tray can help improve the moisture by evaporation, and this will significantly benefit your Burle Marx’s health.


The ideal temperature for your Burle Marx Calathea is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and this tropical houseplant prefers warmer temperatures.

More crucial, avoid rapid temperature changes. Never water your Burle Marx Calathea with cold or hot water to prevent root shock. Prevent cold damage by keeping this plant away from air conditioners.


Your Fishbone Prayer Plant may produce tiny white flowers in an indoor climate. Outdoors, this plant blooms in early spring.


Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii is not considered toxic to humans, dogs, or cats! This means it’s a great option to place in your home if you have fur babies! While this tropical beauty is a pet-friendly plant, it is still best to keep it away from your furry friends to keep it in pristine condition.

Soil Care Specifics
Botanical Name Calathea Burle Marx
Common Name Fishbone Prayer Plant, Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii, Burle Marx Calathea
Plant Family Marantaceae
Origin Brazil
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape oval
Leaf Color green and white stripes with purple underside
Recommended Home Placement near an east or west-facing window
Growth Rate moderate
Light bright indirect light
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water when the top two inches of the soil are dry.
When To Fertilize once a month during growing season
Preferred pH 5.6-6.5
Humidity Range 0.6
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, fungus gnuts, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

The Calathea Burle Marx is not a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some of the common pests, conditions, and problems, along with how to treat them.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are a common problem on houseplants, especially Burle Marx Calathea. Small brown or yellow spots emerge on the plant’s leaves. Severe infestations produce delicate, sticky webs swarming with red bugs.

To get rid of spider mites, properly wash your Burle Marx Calathea. This can be done in a sink, tub, or outside. If that doesn’t work, suffocate them with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil.

If you have several plants in your home, you might need to quarantine your sick plants while getting the spider mite population under control.

Fungus Gnats

A fungus gnat infestation might cause sudden wilting, yellowing, or poor growth in your Fishbone Prayer Plant.

Fungus gnats will appear if you overwater your Fishbone Prayer Plant. Wait 3 days before watering the top 2 inches of soil. This may destroy some soil larvae.

We placed yellow sticky cards nearby when we encountered these gnats in our hydroponics systems. These traps are effective in catching the adults. To kill the larvae, mix 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 4 cups of water and pour it onto the soil.

White Flies

Your plants may have whiteflies if their leaves are mottled, discolored, distorted, or fall off.

To attract and collect Whiteflies, utilize yellow glue-based traps.

Alternative: unleash a colony of natural predators in your indoor growing area. All of these beneficial insects will devour pests without affecting your plants.

Scale Insects

Adult scales are waxy and immovable, yet they spawn dashing bugs.

The armored scales can be scratched using an old ID card or your fingertips. Calathea Burle Marx’s leaves should not be ripped.

Suffocate scale insects using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. If you see crawlers, spray with a comprehensive pesticide, and reapply after a week. Here are some ideas:


Mealybugs may infest your Burle Marx Calathea. These tiny parasites damage your Ctenanthe by inserting a feeding tube into the plant tissues and sucking on the sap, and they can eventually weaken or even kill your plant.

To get rid of them, wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and physically pick them off. Spray neem oil on diseased leaves to suffocate bugs.

Brown Leaf Tips

Many factors can cause browning edges on your Fishbone Prayer Plant leaves. Lack of humidity, bright light, salt and mineral buildup from chemically treated tap water, and fertilizer burn are possible causes.

Drooping Leaves

Inconsistent watering, incorrect lighting, and low humidity can cause drooping leaves on Calathea Burle Marx. Cleaning your plant’s leaves with plain water and a microfiber cloth can help remove dust that can obstruct photosynthesis.

Yellow Leaves

If you see yellowing leaves on your Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii, you might need to consider several factors to determine the culprit.

Of course, bottom leaves that turn yellow can also indicate that your plant is growing and the leaf’s energy has been spent. In this case, simply pluck off the yellowing leaves so the plant can focus on increasing new green leaves.

Root Rot

Root rot swiftly spreads to the stem and leaves of Burle Marx Calathea.

Another cause of root rot is poor drainage in the soil, and this tropical plant requires a standard commercial potting soil that stays evenly wet.

To avoid root rot, drill holes in your pot, use high-porosity materials like terracotta and unglazed ceramic planters, and space your waterings out.

Similar Plants

Love Fishbone Prayer Plant? Here are some other similar plant options from the prayer plant family you should try:

Calathea Ornata: Another popular name for this gorgeous plant is “Pinstripe Plant” or “Peacock Plant,” a plant called for the colorful and multicolored stripes that decorate its leaves.

Calathea Makoyana – is a show-stopper as one of the most gorgeous interior Calatheas. It will enchant everyone, even those who aren’t fond of plants, with its long, thin stem and elegantly shaped leaves.

Calathea Beauty Star: Calathea Beauty Star stands out in the yard with its beautiful dark green leaves with silvery lines and stunning purple undersides. Its name says it all.

Calathea Orbifolia: This evergreen perennial is known for its large, white/silver-green banded leaves. It’s terrific to bring life to any interior environment and fill up the gaps.


Calathea Burle Marx is a beautiful decoration for your household, prized for its attractive foliage. Following our indoor care tips, you’ll have no trouble growing this Ctenanthe.

Do you have a Fishbone Prayer Plant in your collection? We’d love to see it! Please submit photos to [email protected], and we might post them on our blog!

Donate! Our affiliate links earn us money if you click on them and buy something. But all opinions are our own, and we never pay for positive ratings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Pea Pod!

Receive top indoor gardening and hydroponics tips directly to your inbox.

    © 2023 Copyright Two Peas In A Condo