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The Beginners Guide To Calathea Rufibarba – 21 Care Tips

Calathea Rufibarba is a stunning plant with a unique appearance that makes it an excellent choice for indoor gardeners. Its wavy green leaves are lanceolate, have a velvety feel, and sport a dark purple underside. This plant is supported by red stems to complete its truly enticing ensemble.

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

Continue reading to learn where you can purchase this Calathea and its unique characteristics and typical hazards to avoid.

What Is Calathea Rufibarba?

The Calathea Rufibarba is also known as Furry Feather Calathea and Fuzzy Calathea because of its fluffy leaves. Not to be confused with the somewhat similar-looking Calathea Lancifolia, this plant is also often referred to as Velvet Calathea. The name Rufibarba is derived from the Latin Rufus, meaning ‘red’ and Barba, meaning ‘beard,’ about its leaves’ fuzzy undersides.

This perennial from the Marantaceae family is well-known for its unique appearance and texture. It has lanceolate-shaped and rich green with maroon undersides-colored leaves.

One fun fact about plants from Marantaceae is that most of them are known to be “Prayer Plants.” This is due to their habit of folding up and down in response to temperature and light, known as nyctinasty. Plants from the Calathea genus have the same rhythm, but it’s not as pronounced as their Maranta cousins. They do, however, share the same level of sensitivity and this particular prayer plant requires some focused TLC.

We’ll concentrate on the ideal conditions for growing Calathea Rufibarba indoors, but it may also be grown outside in hardiness zones 9-11.

Origin And Family

The Furry Feather Calathea comes from the Calathea genus, which belongs to the Marantaceae family, and it is from the forests of Bahia state in northern Brazil. It has become a popular houseplant that is typically moderate to difficult to care for in recent years.

First described in 2012 by Finn Borchsenius and Stella Suárez, this stunning plant makes a great addition to any indoor grower’s collection. Most summers, it produces insignificant large yellow flowers.

Where To Buy

Calathea Rufibarba can be found in a variety of locations. You can purchase one at a local nursery, but it will typically cost more, and you would need to haul the plant in your car. We’ve found that ordering plants online is a more cost-efficient option. Etsy has regular discounts and a wide selection of cuttings and full-grown plants.

Recently named Goeppertia Rufibarba for taxonomic reasons, this plant is still referred to by its Calathea name by most online stores and local nurseries.

The Calathea Rufibarba is very affordable, with prices between $15 for 4-inch plants and $30 for more mature plants.

Calathea Rufibarba Plant Size

The Calathea Rufibarba is a slow-to-moderate-growing houseplant near an east or west-facing window. It can reach an average height of 1 meter and an average width of 3-4 inches in homes.

Calathea Rufibarba Care Needs

Your Calathea Rufibarba will grow well when it’s properly taken care of. Known for its unique appearance and texture, this plant loves humidity and needs evenly moist soil to stay healthy.

Watering this plant is best after the top inch of soil has dried, and deep water the pot, allowing it to drain through the drainage hole. This exciting plant needs bright indirect light to reach its maximum growth potential in terms of light.

For more specific tips, check out the detailed care guide below!

Care Difficulty

While all plants necessitate some level of care, most indoor gardeners consider the Fuzzy Calathea to be moderate to tough to care for. With the right combination of well-draining soil and amount of light, you can keep this plant in its best health.

Growth Rate

When grown indoors, the Velvet Calathea plant grows to 1 meter, and it develops the fastest during the spring and summer months.

Most Calathea species, including the Rufibarba, have a slow-to-moderate growing speed.


It is usually acceptable to use a large container in terms of container size. The majority of potting materials, such as plastic, terracotta, or clay, will perform nicely.

Furry Feather Calathea is susceptible to root rot. Make sure there’s good drainage in its pot to drain excess water.


As your Calathea Rufibarba develops, you should consider moving it to a larger pot; it dries out pretty quickly between waterings. Because of its slow-to-moderate growth rate, you will need to report your plant every two years.

When repotting your Calathea, use fresh soil to give its roots more nutrients to assimilate. When transferring to the new pot, you need to pay special attention as this plant is hyper-sensitive and hates its roots being disturbed or touched.


The Fuzzy Calathea thrives in regular commercial potting soil. This plant’s roots like a uniformly moist environment, so choose components with the appropriate moisture-retention characteristics for your soil. The ideal ground should have perlite and peat moss if you plan to create your own soil mix.

With proper drainage, root rot and other diseases can be avoided. To promote aeration, consider adding chunky and gritty items to your soil.

These are some excellent substrate options for your plant:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $15.70 ($0.04 / 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 $14.68 ($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. $34.54
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)


Your Velvet Calathea likes neutral to acidic soil, meaning you should keep the pH level at 6.0-7.0. If you’re concerned about acidity, you can buy a simple pH testing tool to examine your soil.

Regulate excessive pH levels on your soil with sulfur or aluminum sulfate. Improve low pH levels by adding baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.


When watering Furry Feather Calathea, you’ll want to aim to keep your soil evenly moist. Stick a finger into the pot or invest in a soil moisture meter device to gauge moisture. You’ll know it’s time to water your Calathea when the top inch of the soil is dry.

Overwatering is basically the most common cause of indoor plant mortality. When in doubt, keep in mind that it’s safer to underwater than over water the Furry Feather Calathea. Also, make sure you have fast-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to drain too much water.

Another essential thing to note about this plant is its preference for filtered or distilled water. Being a fuzzy plant, it does not react well to chemicals like fluoride and calcium – compounds found in tap water. Should you prefer to use tap water, let it sit overnight or for up to 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate. Rainwater is another option, if available.


You’ll want to simulate the natural environment of Calathea Rufibarba, which would be the rainforests of Bahia state of northeastern Brazil. Give your Rufibarba bright indirect sunlight for 6-8 hours each day. This plant can also be placed near an east or west-facing window.

You’ll know your Calathea Rufibarba is getting too much sunlight when its leaves start turning brown. On the contrary, if this plant doesn’t get enough light, its foliage may begin drooping.

Avoid putting your Calathea Rufibarba in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it. On the other hand, this plant can also thrive in medium light conditions, placing it in any low light spot in your home. It can also tolerate common light conditions or partial shade to a certain degree.


Many indoor growers overlook fertilization, believing that water and brilliant indirect light are good sources of nutrition for their plants. In reality, soil nutrients are equally as crucial to the health of your plants.

Feed your plant monthly in the spring and summer. A water-soluble fertilizer will work best for your Fuzzy Calathea. If you’re using a more potent fertilizer, you may need to dilute it first.

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

Propagating Calathea Rufibarba

If your Calathea Rufibarba has grown too large, you can trim it back and save the cuttings for propagation! We’ve provided step-by-step instructions for various propagation methods below.


You can also propagate a Velvet Calathea by dividing the clusters of stems with entangled root systems.

1. Dig up. To loosen the soil, tap the sides of the container with your tiny shovel. Pull gently on the plant until it comes out.

2. Separate. You should be able to see the natural boundary of each stem and separate them using your hands. You may need to cut the roots but be careful not to disrupt the main root balls.

3. Repot. Repot each section in smaller pots filled with the same soil they’re used to.

Humidity And Aeration

Calathea Rufibarba is an exciting plant that loves high humidity levels. Keep the humidity level at 60% or higher at all times.

Use a simple hygrometer to check the air moisture level in your Calathea Rufibarba’s area. If the reading is too low, you can improve the humidity through the following methods:

• Plants release moisture from their leaves through transpiration, so they’ll benefit from each other if you keep houseplants closely together.

• Place a pebble tray and water underneath your plant’s pot. The evaporating water provides some nourishment to the plant.

• Purchase a humidifier for your plants, and this will constantly release steam and raise the humidity in a room.


Like most Calathea plants, your Velvet Calathea will do best in a location with warm temperatures. Keep the temperature between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Houseplants can be sensitive to drastic shifts in temperature, so make sure you keep your Velvet Calathea away from heat sources such as vents, hand dryers, furnaces, and other appliances. In the same way, don’t expose your plant to chilly drafts, cold temperatures, and frost spells during the winter.


Albeit rarely, the Furry Feather Calathea can produce flowers that are insignificant and yellow. In optimum conditions, this plant blooms most summers.


Fuzzy Calathea is not considered toxic to humans, dogs, or cats! This means it’s a great option to place in your home, whether you have fur babies!

Soil Care Specifics
Botanical Name Calathea Rufibarba
Common Name Furry Feather Calathea, Fuzzy Calathea, Velvet Calathea
Plant Family Marantaceae
Origin Bahia state of northeastern Brazil
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape lanceolate
Leaf Color rich green with maroon undersides
Recommended Home Placement near an east or west-facing window
Growth Rate slow-to-moderate
Light bright indirect light
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water When the top inche of the soil is dry.
When To Fertilize once a month during growing season
Preferred pH 6.0-7.0
Humidity Range 60% or higher
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

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

Spider Mites

Spider mites are an unwelcome but common problem on houseplants, especially Velvet Calathea. Spider mite damage appears initially as tiny brown or yellow specks on your plant’s leaves. When the infestation is intense, delicate, sticky webs teeming with red bugs may be visible.

Begin by thoroughly scrubbing every nook and cranny of your Velvet Calathea to expel the spider mites. This must be done on a sink, tub, or outside. If it doesn’t work, you can smother the spider mites 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.

White Flies

Whiteflies may infest your plants if they have mottled, discolored leaves distorted or falling off. These insects are relatives of mealybugs, scales, and aphids.

Use glue traps to catch Whiteflies and monitor their emergence in the early stages.

You can adopt a more natural approach by introducing a natural predator population in your indoor growing environment. Ladybugs, lacewings, dragonflies, parasitic wasps, and praying mantises will devour a wide range of pests while causing no harm to your plants.

Scale Insects

Adult scale bugs are sedentary and have a waxy coating on their bodies, yet they can give birth to tiny crawling bugs.

Armored scales may be scraped off, but you must do so gently with an old ID card or your fingers. Take care not to rip the Calathea Rufibarba leaves.

Use insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or neem oil to suffocate scale insects. Spray your plant with a broad insecticide if you spot active crawlers. After a week, repeat the process with a second application. We propose the following products:


Aphids are tiny insects that devour the leaves of your Fuzzy Calathea, causing black and brown blotches.

To treat an infestation, use insecticidal soap or neem oil. Dish detergent in low concentrations can also eliminate aphids without hurting your plant. Choose a fragrance-free product, such as Ivory Liquid, for example.

Begin by diluting 1 teaspoon of dish soap in 1 gallon of water, gradually increasing the ratio as needed. Spray this solution on your damaged plant, paying specific attention to the undersides of the leaves, where aphids are commonly located.


Mealybugs can potentially infest your Velvet Calathea. They deposit a white powdery layer on the leaves and excrete honeydew, creating black sooty mold. Mealybug-infested plants will have falling yellow leaves.

Adult mealybugs can be removed with a cotton bud dipped in rubbing alcohol. When they contact something, they usually die, turn orange, and spray the remainder of the leaves with diluted alcohol.

There are root mealies that will bury themselves and feed on the roots. Dehydrate them between waterings by adding Diatomaceous Earth powder to the dirt. When watering, you can also add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.

Brown Leaf Tips

Browning edges on the leaves of your Furry Feather Calathea can be triggered by many factors. Possible causes are:

  • Lack of humidity.
  • Excessive exposure to bright light.
  • Salt and mineral build-up from chemically-treated tap water.
  • Fertilizer burn.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping Calathea Rufibarba leaves are usually an indication that your plant is thirsty. Once hydrated, your plant will usually perk back up in this situation. It may also assist in raising the humidity.

Take care! Plants infected with pests may initially have droopy and curled leaves, but they will gradually acquire other symptoms such as spots, reduced development, and a general loss in health. If you suspect pests, always check the underside of the leaves.

Yellow Leaves

Several factors can cause the leaves of a Fuzzy Calathea to become yellow. One reason is that it does not receive enough sunlight, and another is that the plant gets too much or too little water.

Yellow leaves should be clipped to foster new growth and prevent degradation from spreading. Besides, they can be unattractive and worrying to look at. Simply trim the leaves off with a sharp, sterile pair of shears.

Root Rot

The most common cause of death for Velvet Calathea is root rot. Overly compacted soil will become waterlogged and eventually damage your plant’s roots. Because this disease is tough to eradicate, prevention is the best option.

To avoid root rot, reduce how often you water your Calathea. Before watering your plant, always check if the top 3 inches of soil are dry. If not, your plant will most likely be able to wait a bit longer!

Porosity is a feature of potting material that allows air to travel through and dry the soil while also enabling excess moisture to leave. Clay, baked terracotta, ceramic (unglazed), and concrete can all be used to make porous pots. Make sure that the bottom has drainage holes!

Similar Plants

Calathea, Furry Feather? Here are some other plants that are similar that you should try:

Calathea Ornata: This evergreen perennial is a tropical plant with shiny and colorful stripes across the leaves. It’s popularly called the “Pinstripe Plant” and “Peacock Plant.”

Calathea Makoyana: This tall, slender stemmed plant with intricately designed leaves will steal the show. Add it to your indoor plant collection and wow everyone who sees it.

Calathea Beauty Star: Need we say more? This beauty is truly a star. It sports dark green leaves, silvery stripes, and even a deep purple underside.

Calathea Orbifolia: While this plant may need more TLC, believe us when we say it’s all worth it. This stunning indoor plant has massive leaves with exotic-looking white/silver-green bands. If you are a lover of vast and lovely plants, this one’s for you.


If you’re looking for a houseplant with some wow factor, the Calathea Rufibarba is excellent. Just follow the tips we’ve shared above, and you’re on your way to reaching your plant’s full growing potential!

Can’t get enough of Calathea plant guides? Check out these great Two Peas In A Condo possibilities!

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