Don’t be scared of the rattlesnake plant! Originally known as the Calathea insignis, the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne is a plant that will sit perfectly amongst a tropical-themed houseplant collection.
This Brazilian native looks great paired with sansevieria or palms and will make you feel like you are on holiday even in the winter!
Calathea Lancifolia Insigne Care
Make sure the soil is well draining but retains moisture. Keep humidity above 50% and temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). Fertilise in the summer months and reduce watering in winter.
Soil should be well draining but unlike cacti, the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne needs to be in soil that retains a little bit of moisture. Drainage materials – such as perlite – should be mixed soil sparingly.
Brazilian tropical plants do like a bit of moisture in the soil, but waterlogged soil is a no no. You can create well-draining soil that will still deliver plenty of nutrients to the plant by mixing standard potting soil (2 parts) with perlite or bark (1 part).
The potting soil will hold enough moisture to support plant growth and the perlite will create spaces between the soil to ensure that the plant does not become waterlogged.
Another note on soil – if you apply fertilizer to your Calathea Lancifolia Insigne make sure that you flush the soil out at the end of the summer to remove any built up minerals left over from the fertilizer.
The plant can also be sensitive to buildups from fluoride or chlorine contained in tap water, so a good rinse out of the soil every now and again is a good idea. Distilled water is best for this purpose.
Bright but indirect light will serve the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne best. Place it in a bright room but away from any chance of direct light hitting the plant. The corner of the room is best. Avoid south facing window ledges.
The Calathea Lancifolia Insigne grows under the canopy of the Brazilian rainforests in the wild. As a result, it is used to a lower light environment. Shielded by the trees above, the plant is adept in growing in dappled light conditions.
As a result, any bright light hitting the plant may cause burning to the leaves. And even if they do not burn, a stronger light environment will cause the beautiful colors to fade. Keep the plant out of direct light – hallways, atriums and landings work well.
Water well but not to the point of saturation. Moist soil is required but it should not be oversaturated. As the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne is sensitive to buildup of fluoride or chlorine found in tap water, use distilled or rainwater when possible.
Ensure that the pot you are using has good drainage holes and that the soil mix contains some drainage materials such as perlite. This will ensure that water will not pool in the pot and cause waterlogging. The Calathea Lancifolia Insigne does not tolerate this so well.
Stop watering if you notice the soil filling up with liquid. Water only again when the soil has dried out on the top couple of inches – this may be once a week or less in the growing season. During the winter you can lay off on watering as much as the plant will be in a dormancy period.
Another thing to note – which you may not need to consider with many other plants – is that the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne is very sensitive to buildups of minerals and salts in the soil.
To avoid this, you should try to use distilled water if possible. You could also collect rainwater outside and use this – of course, this should also be promoted because it is more sustainable. If you can’t do this, tap water left sitting uncovered for a few days can be used.
You should flush out the soil every once in a while using distilled water to clear out any built up minerals caused by tap water or fertilizers.
Keep the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne in a warm environment. Temperatures should not dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and the plant will do well in temperatures up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you spot curling leaves, this is a sign that your plant may be either too hot or too cold.
As a tropical plant, the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne likes to be warm. Shelter it from draughty windows or cold floors in the winter months. This can be as simple as keeping a mat under it in the winter.
But whilst it likes to be warm, temperatures of over 85 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided. Do not keep the plant beside fires or radiators or expose it to a warm window ledge (this should be avoided anyway due to the risk of direct sun exposure).
This tropical plant loves humidity. Keep levels to over 50%. Encourage a humid environment by using humidifiers, misting the leaves or moving the plant to higher humidity levels such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
Pay attention in particular to the plants appearance in the winter months. If you notice the tips of the leaves turning brown then this can be a sign that the plant is suffering due to low humidity.
This can be a common problem for house kept plants in the winter as things like modern day heating systems and radiators can lower the humidity drastically.
One tip would be to put a tray of water – filled with pebbles so the plant is not sitting directly in the water – underneath your Calathea Lancifolia Insigne. This will help to promote humidity, as would moving it to areas where there is more water in the air such as a kitchen or bathroom environment.
Grouping your plants together has also shown to help with humidity levels as they will all send moisture in to the air.
Apply fertilizer in the growing months. A balanced fertilizer that is in a flat ratio of 10-10-10 will be fine. Make sure you do not apply more frequently than every 4-6 weeks. Flush out the soil at the end of the summer in order to remove any built up minerals.
Over-fertilizing rather than under-fertilizing is a killer for Calathea Lancifolia Insigne. Whilst it is often necessary for potted plants to receive some additional nutrients, too many can cause browning of the leaves or wilting.
During the winter you can lay off the fertilizer altogether as the plant lies dormant. At the end of the summer, you can rinse out the soil with distilled or rain water to ensure that any buildup of excess minerals is removed.
How to propagate Calathea Lancifolia Insigne
Propagation of the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne is done by stem separation and is relatively straightforward. Separate stems in the springtime and replant in the same soil mix as the mother plant. Water and watch for any new growth to appear.
A few days before propagation give the plant a good drink. This will help any roots recover from the transplant, and minimize the effects of any transplant shock.
The best time to propagate is to do it at the same time as a pot or soil switch out. This usually happens in spring or summer.
Gently remove the plant from the pot and very carefully shake off excess soil. Note that the roots of the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne are extremely delicate and can be very easily damaged.
Inspect the roots for any signs of infection or decay. You will also notice the natural divisions that are occurring in the plant. This is the point at which your Calathea Lancifolia Insigne can be separated.
Gently divide off the new plant, and pot it in its own pot with the same soil as the mother plant. Keep the soil moist and the plant in a warm humid state. After around 2 weeks you will begin to see new growth appear if the split has taken successfully.
Calathea Lancifolia Insigne will grow to around two feet in height if well cared for. Do not expect fast growth – they will grow at a moderate rate if the conditions are optimal. This is typical for many low light environment plants.
During the day the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne will perform an interesting feat. Known as a prayer plant, it will change position throughout the day, folding up at night as if in prayer.
So if it looks like your plant is growing during the day it is really just flattening its leaves out to absorb as much light as it can. This would be necessary given that the sunlight in the Brazilian rainforests would be covered largely by the canopy of the trees!
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Calathea Lancifolia Insigne Problems
Make sure that humidity is kept above 50% and that temperatures do not go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Water to keep soil moist but do let the plant dry out between doses. Make sure that you keep a watch out for pests such as spider mites.
Curling leaves on a Calathea Lancifolia Insigne can be caused by a number of things. It may take a little patience or trial and error to work out exactly what is wrong.
Leaves can curl up if the soil is very dry and not receiving consistent water. Minerals in tap water such as fluoride can also cause damage that manifests as curling leaves. Incorrect temperatures or humidity that is too low can cause curling leaves as well.
Crispy leaves are generally a sign that the plant is suffering under low humidity. This is a common problem during the winter months when radiators lower the humidity levels in the home. Mist the leaves often or consider buying a humidity tray.
Typically a sign of under watering, make sure you keep up a consistent watering regimen as well as making sure the soil is moist enough
If you have spider mites on your plant – which you often only spot once they woven their webs – then you have 2 problems. One is of course the actual infestation of mites which will begin to attack your plant and introduce infections.
But the second is that this is a clear sign that the humidity levels in your home are too low. Since spider mites do not visit humid places it can be safely assumed that increasing the humidity levels will prevent an attack.
Try to rinse off the eggs and nests, but you will probably need to carefully wash the leaves off with insecticidal soap. Isolate the plant from any others when there is an infection.
Frequently asked Questions about the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne
Is the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne toxic?
Good news – the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne is not a toxic plant so if you have pets or young kids you don’t need to worry.
Should I keep my Calathea Lancifolia Insigne outside?
Better not, unless you live in the Brazilian rainforest. The humidity, temperature and light requirements of the Calathea Lancifolia Insigne mean indoors in most countries is better.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.