Calathea Orbifolia Care And Grow: The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Welcome to your go-to 2024 guide on Calathea Orbifolia Care and how to help it grow! If you’re a plant lover who wants to add this stunner to your collection, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve thrown together an all-you-need guide on the FamiPlants blog to help you take care of your Calathea Orbifolia and make sure it’s happy in your home. We’ve got your back on everything, from the best spots for it to chill and how much water it needs, to what kind of soil it likes and how to feed it right. So, let’s jump in and learn everything about how to care for Calathea Orbifolia!

How to Calathea Orbifolia Care

The Calathea Orbifolia is a bit of a diva when it comes to care. It doesn’t ask for much, but it’s super picky about temperature and humidity. But if you get the watering right, make sure it’s well-drained, and let the top bit dry out, you’re on a good track. So let’s dig into the special needs of this plant. Here are a few things you’ll need to know about looking after your Calathea Orbifolia.


Our friend the Calathea Orbifolia, part of the Marantaceae family, loves a bit of indirect sun. Best to keep it out of direct sun, ’cause that’ll burn its leaves real bad.

  • To help it grow evenly, give your plant a little turn once a week. You might be thinking if we can treat them like they’re outside. Sure, as long as they’re in a shaded spot out of direct sun.
  • During spring and summer, find a bright spot away from any direct sunlight. Too much sun can make the plant thirsty and give it a nasty sunburn.
  • When fall rolls around, a couple of hours of direct sunshine each day can help it through its sleepy phase, which lasts till next spring.

The frequency of water per month will be directly governed by the amount of Calathea light requirements and the present season of the year. Darker places need to be maintained drier to support life, whilst brighter areas need more soil moisture to support photosynthesis.

In its natural home under the forest canopy, Calathea Orbifolia loves these light conditions. It’ll happily live in a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, as long as it gets indirect light and isn’t too close to a window.

calathea orbifolia needs indirect light


When it comes to temp, that’s where prayer plants can get picky. A warm spot between 65 and 75 °F is perfect for your plant’s growth. If your Calathea Orbifolia is unhappy, it’ll definitely let you know. If it’s too cold, the leaves start to droop. If it’s too hot, the leaves start to curl.

Avoid putting your Calathea Orbifolia next to heaters, fires, radiators, air conditioners, or heating vents. Sudden changes in temp can stress out plants, causing the leaves to go bad, leaf loss, and other signs of stress.

Our usual indoor temps of 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C) are just right for this delicate tropical plant. As your tropical plant is a bit sensitive, keep an eye out for these signs. So, a spot that’s not too hot or too cold is perfect for your plant.


Your Calathea Orbifolia can hold out for a few days without water. Overwatering causes your plant’s roots to go bad, making your plant super sick.

You can water the Orbifolia once per week in the summer. One watering every 2-3 weeks during the winter months when the plant is taking a break is enough. Another important hint is to let tap water sit at regular temperature before using it if you water the plant. You can also use distilled water as another option.

When watering, be careful not to drown the little pockets at the base because too much moisture might cause airless conditions and rot. Letting the soil to dry out by about half between waterings will help plants in shadier areas avoid the chance of drowning them, especially during the winter.

Slow growth, leaves turning yellow, no flowers, or flowers dropping off are all signs you’re not watering enough; while these problems can be because of a bunch of factors, too much sunshine or forgetfulness are typically to blame.

The browning Calathea Leaves or loss of leaves and blooms, slow growth, or a rotting base are all signs you’re giving it too much water. These issues often come with either too much heat, not enough light, or wet soil.

Calathea Orbifolia likes to stay moist but not soggy, and it can handle less water than it needs than too much.

Depending on its moisture level, I usually advise watering your Orbifolia prayer plant once per week. Stick your finger about an inch into the earth to see if your Calathea Orbifolia needs to be watered. If it feels dry, give the soil some water, but don’t add more until you can see water flowing out from the bottom of the pot.

watering for calathea orbifolia

Ideal Humidity

As a plant native to Bolivia’s tropical rainforests, Calathea Orbifolia has higher-than-average humidity needs. It likes it best in places with at least 50% to 60% humidity. Sadly, a house’s typical humidity level is below 50%, which is not good for the prayer plant.

Getting a low-cost hygrometer is a wise move to make sure the right conditions for your plant. Here are some ways to up the humidity:

  • Misting: Set up a misting schedule to add more humidity. Use a sprayer with little clean drops of water. Spritzing in the morning is best to give the plant a good boost for the day.
  • Humidifier – Get a room humidifier for your plant. Even if you live in a desert, you can grow Orbifolias with the right unit. However, it is expensive and needs regular maintenance.
  • Grouping: To make a more humid little climate in your home, put together any other similar houseplants you have. Keep the plants close together so that mutual transpiration can happen, but don’t jam them together because you don’t want them to block air circulation.
  • Location: Bathrooms give a steam bath with each shower and, with the right light conditions, provide awesome lots of moisture. Other places to think about are kitchens and laundry rooms.
  • Pebble-filled Trays: By putting little water reservoirs around your plants, you can increase the surrounding moisture through evaporation.


The growin’ period, usually from spring to summer, is the best time to feed your Calathea Orbifolia prayer plants.

Your indoor green buddy needs a fair mix of feed with a lot of nitrogen and low potassium content to get its leaves to look more colorful and bigger. Once every month should do.
Don’t feed during the chilly months, as your plant will be taking a nap. This could really hurt your plant’s roots and eventually be the end of it.

When a plant ain’t doing so hot, you shouldn’t feed it either. Instead, try to figure out the problem, like watering, lighting, or humidity, and take care of it until it recovers. Basically, don’t feed your Calathea Orbifolia if you’re unsure about when to do it.

I suggest you to use a fair, water-soluble formula that is made at 1/4 of the strength they say on the box. From spring to fall, I use this once a month, taking a break during the winter. If you’re using dry fertilizer, sprinkle it a little distance away from the base of the plant, just to be safe.

Pests and Diseases

Calathea Orbifolia often faces problems with creepy-crawlies and diseases. Both mealybugs and spider mites love to pick on these plants. Keep an eye out for these buggers and get them off ASAP if you spot them. Diseases like root rot and fungal leaf spot can also be a headache. Keep an eye out for any weird stuff, and take quick action if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

With our advice, you should be able to take care of your Calathea plant for a long time. Just remember our tips for pest prevention, feeding, and watering.

Ideal soil

Like most indoor tropical plants, Calathea Orbifolia needs soil that drains well but stays always a bit wet. By making (or buying) your own peat-based potting soil, you can hit the right soil pH of about 6.5.

Keep the soil a bit wet, but not too soaked. A peat-based soil mix is perfect for Calatheas, and it’s great for repotting too.

To give your plant the best shot at thriving, I like to mix potting soil, stuff that holds water (like sphagnum moss, peat moss, or coco coir), and stuff that drains well (like orchid bark, pumice, or perlite).

calathea orbifolia needs well-draining soil


Calathea Orbifolias hardly ever need a haircut during the year, unless totally necessary. You can use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut off any extra leaves or aerial shoots. Future sprouting won’t get hurt by this.

Get rid of any damaged, dry, or yellow leaves. This keeps your Calathea Orbifolia from wasting precious nutrients on parts of the plant that are beyond saving. However, you should dodge Calathea Orbifolia trimming in the fall and winter. The plant needs all its nutrients at this stage because it’s getting into or already in its snooze period. Don’t forget to clean your tools with rubbing alcohol before and after use.”

Problem-solving with Calathea Orbifolia

There are 4 issues you might face with Calathea Orbifolia:

Calathea Orbifolia root rot problem

Root rot is sadly a pretty usual trouble in Calathea Orbifolia. The clues that root rot is happening are leaves wilting and turning yellow, and the plant eventually dying. Root rot happens when overwatering causes fungus to grow and damage the roots. Once root rot sets in, it’s super hard to save the plant. The two best ways to avoid root rot are to only water when the soil feels dry to the touch and to make sure the pot drains enough. If you think root rot’s the problem, think about moving your plant to a less wet area and watering it less often.

Before you water the plant, always do the “finger test” to make sure the top 1- 2 inches of soil are totally dry, or use a gadget that measures wetness. Wait till the leftover water is quickly draining from the pot’s bottom before you water again.

It’s not always easy to find out if your plant has root rot until it’s almost too late. The best time to check for root rot is when you move the plant to another pot. That’s when you can see the roots clearly without soil hiding them.

If you find rotten roots (they’re brown and mushy), you can chop them off with a knife or scissors to get rid of them. You should also move the plant to new potting soil that’s been mixed with perlite, pumice, or orchid bark to drain better.

Problem transplant shock

Moving a plant from one place to another can be tough on the plant, and often results in what’s called transplant shock. Symptoms of transplant shock can vary depending on the type of plant but may include leaves wilting and dropping, and the plant growing slowly.

Calathea Orbifolia, also known as the zebra plant, is really likely to get transplant shock. This tropical plant comes from the Brazilian rainforest, where it grows under the shade of taller trees. When moved to a new place, Calathea Orbi may go into shock because of the quick change in light levels. The best way to lower the chances of transplant shock is to be gentle when moving the plant and to gradually get it used to its new surroundings. By giving Calathea Orbi time to adjust, you can help make sure it’ll thrive in its new home.

Discolored leaves of Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia’s leaves changing color might show there’s a problem with the plant. If you notice the leaves starting to turn yellow or brown, it could mean you’re watering it too much or too little, or the humidity isn’t right. Plus, the plant’s leaves might turn brown if they’re getting too much sun or if it’s too cold.

It’s really important to figure out the main cause of the discoloration and do what needs to be done to fix it, like changing how often you water, getting the humidity right, and making sure the plant isn’t getting too much sun or sitting in a draft. By taking care of the problem, you can help your Calathea Orbifolia get healthy and look great again.

discolored leaves of calathea orbifolia

Pest problem

Calathea Orbifolia plants often run into bug problems, which can freak out plant owners. Usual bugs like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects are a pain for these plants. If you don’t deal with them right away, these pests can off the plant and mess with the leaves and plant growing.

To sort this out, you gotta first figure out the pest that’s bugging your Calathea orbifolia. You do this by carefully checking out the plant and looking for signs like webbing, gummy buildup, or tiny insects on the leaves and stems.

Once you’ve spotted the bug, you can take steps to treat it. Few options could be using neem oil or insecticidal soap, plucking off the bad leaves, or giving the plant a wipe-down with a damp towel. To stop the bugs from spreading to your other plants, it’s super important to isolate the sick plant.

Apart from sorting out the current bug problem, it’s key to prevent future invasions. This can mean regularly checking your plants for any bug action, keeping things tidy, and giving them the right stuff and care to stay strong and healthy.

Which type of fertilizer ought I use for my Calathea Orbifolia?

Go for a nitrogen-free, low fertilizer. If there’s too much nitrogen around, the leaves will turn yellow. During growing time (spring and summer), feed your Calathea Orbifolia every two weeks.

How frequently do I need to water my Calathea Orbifolia?

Water your Calathea Orbifolia when the top inch or two of soil feels dry. You can also stick your finger into the ground to figure out if it’s time to water. Remember, these plants like it damp, but not too wet. Be sure not to water your plants too often cause this can lead to root rot.

FamiPlants really hopes this article on Calathea Orbifolia care is helpful for you. Remember, these plants need moisture, but not soggy moisture. During the growing season, feed every two weeks and water when the top inch or two of soil feels dry. Look out for bugs and diseases, and take quick action if you spot any signs. With our help, you should be able to keep your Calathea Orbifolia healthy and happy for years to come!

Learn more about Other Calathea care resources:

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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