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Calathea Orbifolia Care — The Definitive Guide

Calathea Orbifolia Care — The Definitive Guide

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The brilliant plant that is the Calathea orbifolia is one of the larger species in the Calathea family.

This plant is most commonly known as the Orbifolia Prayer Plant.

Recently, this Prayer Plant has been reclassified. It is no longer Calathea orbifolia, but rather officially, Geoppertia orbifolia. 

Orbifolia Prayer Plants originate from the tropical regions and rainforests of South America.

More specifically, the Calathea orbifolia is commonly found in Bolivia.

They are perennial, flowering plants although they are most often kept and grown for their foliage. 

Due to their showy foliage, Orbifolia Prayer Plants are adorned as ornamental plants.

They feature bold, green, and silver, candy-striped leaves that round off elegantly. 


Calathea orbifolia care

Calathea orbifolia requires bright, indirect light. 50% humidity is preferred and steady temperatures of 65℉ to 75℉ (18℃ to 24℃) are essential. Keep your plant in well-draining soil and only water it once the top layer has dried. Feed monthly with a general-purpose fertilizer in spring and summer. 



Calathea orbifolia need well-draining soil with a pH of 6.5. They like to be kept moist, not soggy. Peat-based potting mixes work well. Create a homemade potting mix by using equal parts potting soil, pumice stones, and peat moss. This mix ensures good drainage as well as sufficient moisture.

As is the preference with most tropical plants, Orbifolia Prayer Plants enjoy well-draining soil.

A peat-based potting mix is suitable. The addition of a bit of organic material is also beneficial.

This is due to the fact that they like to be kept moist, but not soggy. Ideally, Calathea orbifolia plants should be provided with a soil pH of around 6.5.

If you would prefer not to purchase a ready-made potting soil mix, it is easy to make your own.

The best recipe for a soil mix for your Orbifolia Prayer Plant is equal parts of peat moss, potting soil, and pumice stones.

Using this potting soil recipe, you will ensure your plant has sufficient moisture as well as adequate drainage. 



Calathea orbifolia need bright but indirect light. Avoid placing your plant in direct light as it may burn the leaves. They can tolerate low light, but it is not preferential. Rotate your Orbifolia Prayer Plant once a week to encourage even growth. 

Orbifolia Prayer Plants are fairly tolerable when it comes to light exposure. Although they are capable of growing in low light conditions, it is not preferential. Ideally, you should keep your Calathea orbifolia in a spot with moderate to bright light. 

Do not leave this plant to be exposed to direct sun. Calathea orbifolias are not equipped to handle direct sun exposure.

Their leaves are easily damaged by the harsh sun rays and the plant will likely suffer from leaf burn.

For best results, you should place your Orbifolia Prayer Plant in a spot where it will receive bright but indirect sunlight. It is recommended that you rotate your plant once per week to allow for even growth.  



This plant needs to be watered with care. Although it likes to be kept moist, soggy soil should be avoided. Always check your plant’s soil moisture before watering. Calathea orbifolia are not drought tolerant but will cope better with less water than too much. Reduce watering frequency in winter. 

Orbifolia Prayer Plants should be watered regularly. Although they like to be kept moist, these tropical plants despise being left to sit in soggy or waterlogged soil.

To avoid overwatering your plant, always check the moisture of its soil beforehand. 

If your Calathea orbifolia’s top layer of soil still has some moisture in it, do not water your plant.

To check for moisture, simply press the soil with your finger. If the soil is dry, you need to water your plant! 

The Orbifolia Prayer Plant is not drought tolerant. However, this plant would rather go an extra day or to without water than being overwatered.

In the warmer months, you can typically expect to water your Calathea orbifolia once a week. Reduce your watering frequency in the cooler months, however. During the winter months, this plant will enter a period of dormancy. 



Orbifolia Prayer Plants are particular about the temperatures they are grown in. In order for your plant to thrive, keep it in a spot with even temperatures of 65℉ or 75℉ (18℃ or 24℃). If unhappy with the temperature, it will let you know. Protect your plant from drafts, both cool and warm. 

Calathea orbifolias grow best in moderate to warm temperatures. Average room temperatures are recommended for these plants that are kept indoors.

Ideally, in order for your Orbifolia Prayer Plant to thrive, temperatures should be kept even at around 65℉ and 75℉ (18℃ and 24℃). 

In the case that your Calathea orbifolia is unhappy with the temperature it is in, it will definitely let you know.

If your plant feels the temperature around it is too cold it will allow its leaves to droop.

On the other hand, if the temperatures are too hot, your Orbifolia Prayer Plant’s leaves will begin to curl. 

These plants are quite sensitive. This is especially true when it comes to sudden temperature changes. Therefore, it is best to avoid placing this plant in a spot where it may be affected by drafts. Cool or warm, this plant does not bode well to it. 



Calathea orbifolia plants need high humidity levels. They do best in 50% humidity levels and above. Average room humidity is not sufficient for these plants. They should be misted daily or be placed on a pebble tray to increase the humidity around them. 

Like many tropical plants, the Orbifolia Prayer Plant is a lover of humidity. A humidity level of at least 50% is desirable. It is not uncommon for the average moisture level of a room to be too dry for these plants.

This means it is necessary for you to take action and provide your plant with a more suitable and comfortable environment. 

To increase the humidity level around your Calathea orbifolia, it is recommended that you mist it daily. If daily misting is not possible, it is suggested that you place your plant’s pot onto a pebble tray.

Due to their love for humidity, these plants are excellent choices for kitchens or bathrooms. 



These plants should only be fertilized during their growing season. Apply a well-balanced, general-purpose fertilizer. High nitrogen levels and low potassium levels are recommended for best leaf color maintenance. These plants are not big feeders and only need to be fed once a month. 

Orbifolia Prayer Plants are not big feeders. They benefit from seasonal fertilizing during their period of growth. A light feeding once a month in the spring right through the summer is ideal.

Avoid fertilizing your Calathea orbifolia during the cooler months of autumn and winter.

During this time, between autumn and winter, the Orbifolia Prayer Plant goes into a period of dormancy. When the plant is dormant, it is not actively growing.

Therefore, it will not be able to make use of the fertilizer. Fertilizing the plant when it cannot use it will result in the fertilizer burning the plant’s roots. 

It is recommended that you use a well-balanced, general-purpose fertilizer to feed your Calathea orbifolia. Fertilizers that are high in nitrogen are ideal. Nitrogen is used by the plant to keep its color well maintained.

Fertilizers with high potassium levels should be avoided. An overload of potassium will result in your plant losing color. It may even cause spots to form on your plant’s leaves. 



Orbifolia Prayer Plants can grow up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall as well as wide. Each of their glossy leaves appears with candy stripes of green and silver. It is not uncommon for the leaves to reach a width of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters). Calathea orbifolia plants have a moderate growth rate. 

Calathea orbifolias are one of the larger plants in the Calathea plant family. When these plants are grown in their ideal conditions, they have a moderate rate of growth.

Typically, Orbifolia Prayer Plants will grow up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall. 

The most elaborate feature of these plants is their foliage. Their broad, oval leaves sport a candy-stripe pattern of silver and green.

Each glossy leaf grows to a width of about 12 inches (30 centimeters). Along with their height, these plants can easily reach a spread of up to 2 feet (0.6 meters). 



When potting the Calathea orbifolia it is important the pot has holes for drainage. Repot this plant once every two years to change the soil and increase the pot size. Orbifolia Prayer Plants do not like to be rootbound. Avoid tampering with your plant’s roots but be sure to check for signs of rot. 

These plants grow well in pots. It is essential, however, that the pot has drainage holes. Calathea orbifolias do not like to be root bound. They enjoy having space in their pots and should therefore be planted in a big pot. 

In order to maintain a happy and healthy plant, you should repot your Orbifolia Prayer Plant once every two years. These plants are not fans of being repotted, however, they dislike being rootbound even more. 

When you report your Calathea orbifolia, it is important that you avoid tampering too much with their roots. Simply change your plant’s soil with a fresh mix and increase its pot size. It is also advisable to carefully check your plant’s roots for any signs of rot. 



Prune your plant as and when necessary, throughout the year. Avoid pruning it during the autumn and winter months. Orbifolia Prayer Plants have basic pruning requirements. Only prune damaged or yellowing leaves and ensure your gardening shears are sharp and clean. 

The Orbifolia Prayer Plant requires minimal pruning. Check your plant regularly for any damaged or yellowing leaves. Use sharp, clean garden shears to prune away the necessary foliage.

Only prune your plant as it needs. Avoid trimming or pruning unnecessarily. It is best to avoid pruning your Calathea orbifolia during the autumn and winter months. 


Calathea orbifolia Propagation 

Orbifolia Prayer plants are not easily propagated. They can be propagated through division or cuttings but they are sensitive plants. Rhizome division is the easier method, but not guaranteed to work. Only attempt propagation in the spring. 

Calathea orbifolia plants are difficult to propagate successfully. Nonetheless, propagation is possible through the use of cuttings or by division. The method of rhizome division is considered to be the easier option. However, it is still not guaranteed to be successful. 

Because these plants are particular about their roots being disturbed, extreme caution needs to be taken.

Orbifolia Prayer Plants get stressed and if the division is not done correctly, the plant will likely die. If you wish to attempt propagation, it is absolutely vital that it is only done in spring. 


Common problems with Calathea orbifolia

Because of their environmental preferences, Calathea orbifolia are often affected by pests. The most common pests to keep a lookout for are aphids, mealybugs, and thrips. As for diseases, these plants are prone to developing root rot or other fungal maladies. 


Frequently asked questions about Calathea orbifolia


Are Orbifolia Prayer Plants considered toxic?

These plants are not considered toxic. They are safe to have around both children and pets. 


Are Orbifolia Prayer Plants air purifiers?

It is true, Calathea orbifolias are excellent air-purifying plants! They are great at filtering out compounds in the air around them. This ability makes them an even bigger asset to any home!


Why is the Calathea orbifolia called a Prayer Plant?

The Calathea orbifolia was labeled the Prayer Plant because of its unique habit. During the day, these plants stretch their leaves out to absorb the sun. However, at night, their fold their foliage over which gives the appearance that they are praying!



Calathea orbifolia are truly elegant plants. With their elegance, however, comes specific care requirements. These plants are not suited for first-time planters as they can be rather finicky.

Despite this, they are excellent plants and are easy to maintain. That is once you get the hang of their preferences.