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Ultimate Calathea lancifolia Care Guide: 34 Rattlesnake Plant Grow Tips

The Calathea lancifolia is an attractive option that every plant grower should consider. They’re pretty easy to grow, they’re not toxic to pets, and they thrive indoors if given the proper attention. 

In this Rattlesnake lancifolia care guide, we’re giving you all the secrets and tips to grow this plant successfully.

We think that the Calathea lancifolia is one of the best indoor ornamental houseplants on the market. Here are some basic details about the plant to get started.

What Is Calathea lancifolia?

The Calathea lancifolia, called the rattlesnake plant and Goeppertia insignis, is a rhizomatous tropical evergreen perennial known for its attractive foliage. It has long and lance-shaped leaves that are light green – with dark green strokes across the surface and rich purple undersides. It folds up at night, as prayer plants typically do.

Although it’s possible to grow this gorgeous plant outdoors in the far southern regions of Florida and California, and Hawaii, it is mostly grown indoors in the rest of the United States where it’s appreciated for its ornately patterned foliage.

The markings on each leaf are said to look like markings on rattlesnakes, hence the plant’s common name.


Origin And Prayer Plant Status

The rattlesnake plant belongs to the Calathea genus and the Arrowroots family and is considered a member of the Marantaceae family. It comes from the rainforests of Brazil. Calathea lancifolia has become a popular indoor plant in recent years, thriving in most households with moderately high humidity.

Calatheas (including lancifolia) are called prayer plants because their leaves fold at dusk as if in prayer. However, the actual prayer plant is known as a Maranta, and it, too, folds. Both are members of the Marantaceae family.

Calatheas are not actual prayer plants in the strictest sense. However, indoor gardeners and nurseries identify Calatheas and Marantas as prayer plants because they resemble each other and still fold at night.

Where To Buy

You can purchase Rattlesnake Calathea at many nurseries and stores that sell plants, but it is important to note that there are many kinds of Calathea available, and some look very similar. 

To see all the different varieties, we recommend you start by using Etsy for purchasing Calathea lancifolia.

The Rattlesnake plant has a bit of a range in prices, depending on the size of plant you purchase. Some of the most miniature plants and cuttings are around $10, while larger plants can set you back $30 or more.

Purchase Your Very Own Lancifolia Today

Holding calathea Lancifolia or Rattlesnake plant sold on Etsy

Calathea lancifolia Plant Size

The Calathea lancifolia grows to about 30 inches tall as a houseplant and about approximately 24 inches in width. 

This beautiful rhizomatous tropical evergreen perennial grows at a moderately fast rate and normally flourishes when placed near an east or west-facing window.

Calathea lancifolia Care Needs

Your Calathea lancifolia, like any other houseplant, will thrive if adequately cared for. The Goeppertia insignis, with its lovely lance-shaped leaves with wavy edges, likes to grow in slightly moist soil.

Water is the most significant consideration for Calathea plants. You’ll want to water your Calathea before the soil dries out using distilled room-temperature water. You want to keep the potting mix slightly moist.

Check out our thorough Calathea care guide below for more information.

Care Difficulty

The Calathea lancifolia is often regarded as easy-to-moderate to care for due to its simple light, water, and humidity requirements. 

Growth Rate

Most Calathea species, including the lancifolia, grow moderately fast. The Calathea lancifolia plant grows to a height of 30 inches. In terms of growing season, they grow in the spring and summer.


Water is one of the most significant considerations for lancifolia. This Calathea is extra picky. First off, it prefers a slightly moist growing medium. 

When you notice the top layer of the potting mix is dry, you can water your Calathea. You should ensure that you’re using lukewarm water, as hot or cold water can stress this plant. 

Similarly, it prefers soft water and doesn’t like chlorine, fluoride, or bromine, which can be found in tap water. Distilled water works best for this potted plant.

If you don’t have distilled water handy, put tap water into a watering can and let it sit 24 hours before using it on your Calathea.


Generally, room temperatures are preferable for your rattlesnake plant, but it can thrive in a range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Technically, it can survive in slightly lower temps, but try to stay above 50 degrees.

The bigger consideration is consistency. Sudden temperature changes can seriously damage this beautiful plant. Keep them away from vents, cold drafts, and openings that may allow chilly air in.


This unique houseplant prefers indirect light for 8-10 hours a day. Indirect sunlight is best, but artificial lights work well too.

Too much direct sun will cause damage to the leaves, including scorch marks. Keep it out of the full sun for best results.

On the flip side, if there isn’t enough light, its leaves will likely turn yellow, and lower leaves will begin to fall.

Remember, you’re trying to give a rattlesnake plant a home that’s similar to its natural climate. Since lancifolia comes from the tropical areas of Brazil (where a canopy covers it), it’s most comfortable in indirect light.

If you’re concerned that your Calathea lancifolia or other house plants aren’t getting enough light, consider moving them closer to a window or utilizing artificial lighting.


You want a pot that’s about 2” wider than the base of the plant. When choosing potting material, it will likely be okay to use plastic, terracotta, clay, or even a ceramic pot. One of the essential features of this popular houseplant is that it contains drainage holes to get rid of excess water.

Calathea rattlesnake doesn’t like to sit in water – most plants don’t. If you leave the plant in water too long, it’s at risk of suffering from root rot. See our suggestions below for root rot prevention.


As your Calathea lancifolia grows and expands, you might consider upgrading from your current pot to a new pot. Typically, this will occur every one to two years because Goeppertia insignis grows at a moderately fast pace.

In between potting changes, you can refresh your plant’s old soil with a new standard commercial potting soil to freshen up nutrients.


A standard commercial potting soil is ideal for rattlesnake plant. If you want to go above and beyond, this plant likes soil with orchid bark, charcoal, perlite, and sand. You could make it on your own if you wanted, but again, commercial soil will likely do the trick.

Calatheas like a lot of water, so you should have well-draining soil to meet the needs of this plant.

Some top potting soils for indoor plants:


For this lancifolia, you’ll need a soil pH of around as close to 6.5 as possible, which is slightly acidic. In most cases, assuming you repot every one to two years, a standard commercial potting soil is somewhat similar, so this shouldn’t be a major worry.

Conduct an at-home pH test to see if the soil has a low or high pH. There are low-cost tests available on the internet or at a garden center.

If you’re concerned that the pH of your Calathea lancifolia is too high, sulfur or aluminum sulfate can be used to decrease it.

To raise the pH, add calcitic or dolomitic lime, wood ashes, or baking soda if necessary.


Several indoor growers forget to fertilize, thinking water and indirect light are enough. But once a month during spring and summer, you should apply a water-soluble fertilizer.

If you’re using a more potent fertilizer, you may need to dilute it first. In the winter months, you should stop fertilizing.

Propagating Calathea lancifolia

Propagating a rattlesnake plant should be done through a process called division.

The best time to propagate is when you’re repotting – so that’s every one to two years or so.

Here’s a quick video on how to do this well.

Humidity And Aeration

When thinking about humidity, remember that you’re trying to emulate the Brazilian rainforests. Calathea lancifolia or Goeppertia insignis is a striking rhizomatous tropical evergreen perennial that prefers relative humidity or high humidity – For best results, stay between 50-80%.

If you’ve checked your humidity and found that it’s low – or could be better – and especially if you’ve seen brown spots or brown tips and edges, consider getting a humidifier or placing your plant in space naturally higher in humidity (like a bathroom or kitchen).


The Calathea lancifolia plant produces yellow flowers annually when grown outside, but they typically bloom from late spring to early summer in 2-4″ tall conical spikes. Unfortunately, if you’re growing this Calathea insignis indoors, it likely won’t flower.

But if you’re growing this floor plant for its flowers, you’re missing the point! It has beautiful leaves with dark green markings on top and deep purple shades beneath. And on top of that, it has unique leaf movements as it shifts from day tonight.


The Calathea lancifolia, and all Calathea species, are not considered poisonous to cats or dogs.

calathea-lancifolia in grey pot

Pests, Diseases, And Common Problems

The Calathea lancifolia is a plant that’s resistant to several bugs, issues, and diseases. But you can still expect to have problems now and then. Below, we’ve included some common issues for the rattlesnake plant, as well as ways to nurse it back to health.

Curling Leaves

Calathea lancifolia is very sensitive to temperatures and humidity. If you see curling leaves or crisping ends on leaves, it could likely be a sign that your lancifolia is either underwatered or located in an area with low humidity. You might consider getting a humidifier to improve the dry air.

Spider Mites And Aphids

The first step is identification. Spider mites and aphids are a pain and are known to attack Calatheas, especially in the winter when it’s drier. Wilting leaves can be a result of these pests.

Examine the surface of the wilting leaves for the specific pattern of damage left by spider mites or aphids: a random stippling of tiny, pale spots that give the leaf a dusty or faded appearance.

Look at the undersides of the leaves as well. Clusters of small white dots along the plant’s veins may be visible – these are spider mite eggs. 

Because of the webs that the mites create, the lower surface may also feel sticky. When the webbing is apparent to the human eye, you have a significant mite infestation on your hands.

The first thing to do if you see you have an infestation is to quarantine your infected plant. If you have it on one, it’s only a matter of time before it spreads to others. If any leaves or stems are too far gone, remove them with clean shears or pruners.

From here, the best solution is to use a pesticide. You can purchase one online, or you can make your own. My favorite natural pesticide is neem oil. You can mix one teaspoon of neem or horticultural oil with a teaspoon of soap and four cups of water.

Put your concoction in a spray bottle and spritz the entire plant. When you’re finished, wipe down the plant with a paper towel.

Repeat these steps every four days for a couple of weeks to eliminate any eggs and new larvae.

Scale Insects

Scale insects may appear as lumps on the stems or branches of a plant rather than insects. Once they’ve latched on to a plant, the tiny bugs, which come in green, gray, brown, and black colors, usually stay put.

You can use a teaspoon of neem oil in four cups of water to help keep new scale insects from attacking this gorgeous houseplant if your infestation isn’t too bad — on a single plant or part of a single plant. Similar to spider mites, you want to use a spray bottle and spritz the plant thoroughly.

While neem oil or horticulture oils will not kill everything, they will undoubtedly do some damage. There are several houseplant and garden insect killer sprays that are considered safe to treat this. 

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats aren’t the real problem – it’s their larvae that eat your Calathea’s roots. Fungus gnats lay their eggs in consistently moist soil. And this Calathea likes pretty moist soil, meaning it’s ripe for fungus gnat eggs. 

If you notice these gnats, you should start by cutting back on your watering a bit. Not enough to hurt the plant, but make a little more extensive range between waterings. 

If you’re still having a problem, apply one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and four cups of water, and then spray that mixture over the soil.


Mealybugs may infest your Calathea lancifolia. Mealybugs wilt plants by sucking plant juices from the stems and leaves. Plants that have been damaged will wilt, curl, and discolor. Leaves may fall prematurely, and fruit may not form properly. Small branches and twigs may die back.

Start by taking a cotton ball and dousing it in rubbing alcohol. Rub this over the rattlesnake plant’s lanceolate.

From here, take a cup of rubbing alcohol and a teaspoon of fragrance-free dish soap, and then mix that with water in a spray bottle.

Spray that on Goeppertia insignis twice a week until the mealybugs are gone.

Brown Leaf Tips

If the tops of your rattlesnake plant start to turn brown, it could be an indication that the humidity isn’t high enough – or that you’re giving your rattlesnake plant too much sunlight.

Drooping Leaves

Calathea leaves droop a bit during the day and fold during the night, so a bit of drooping isn’t a problem.

If you’re seeing significant drooping, it could mean that you’re underwatering, you’re overwatering, or the temperatures around the plant are too cold. Freshen up on the temperature guidelines above.

Limp Stems

Limp stems can be a severe problem if the plant is overwatered in cold weather. If not addressed soon, this can eventually affect and kill the entire plant.

Yellow Leaves

A rattlesnake plant can turn yellow due to a variety of circumstances. It could be because it does not receive enough sunlight or that it receives too much or too little water.

Root Rot

Root rot is a particularly common cause of death for rattlesnake plant. Indoor gardeners can be a little excessive with their watering of Calatheas – or they can fail to provide proper drainage for their commercial potting soil.

These are the two most common mechanisms by which root rot is caused. Given the difficulty of treating root rot and other plant diseases, prevention is the best course of action in most cases.

You should check the water requirements above to make sure you’re not overwatering this plant. Overwatering and root rot are two of the leading causes of death to the rattlesnake plant.

Similar Plants

Love rattlesnake plant? So do we. And did you know that there are around 200 plant species typically called Calathea? Here are some of our favorites:

Calathea makoyana – Calathea makoyana can flourish as houseplants in any location, as long as it’s not receiving direct sun.  The intricate ornamentation on the leaves resembles feathers, hence the plant’s common name, Peacock Plant.

Calathea ‘Beauty Star’ – Calathea ‘Beauty Star’ plants, commonly known as zebra plants, are herbaceous perennials that grow well as houseplants. 

Their rectangular green leaves with silver streaks emerge throughout the day and fall at night. The leaves open and close like hands in prayer, earning it the nickname “prayer plant.”

Calathea ornata – Calathea Ornata is a tropical plant with bright and colorful stripes across its leaves, earning it the moniker “Pinstripe Plant.” It’s also known as the Cathedral Plant, the Peacock Plant, and the Zebra Plant.

Calathea roseopicta – It’s a tender perennial with elliptical leaves with a dark green upper surface, a red midrib, and a crimson zone that fades to pink near the leaf margins. The leaves’ undersides are purple. Rose-Painted Calathea thrives in high-humidity environments indoors.

Calathea orbifolia – Calathea Orbifolia is a species of Calathea in the Marantaceae family. The substantial oval leaves with dark green and white streaks define this plant. Bolivians are the natives of Calathea Orbifolia.


With its stunningly-marked leaves, Calathea lancifolia is a beautiful accent plant for your home. And if you follow our care guide, you’ll be able to grow this Calathea with ease. 

Do you have a Calathea lancifolia? We want to see it! Please send pictures to [email protected], and we may share them on our blog.

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