Calathea Orbifolia Complete Guide To Grow And Care

The more modern synonym for the round-leaved calathea, Geoppertia orbifolia, is Calathea orbifolia. It is a striking statement plant with its silver-green stripes on its huge, lush leaves, but it is also a bit finicky and definitely not low-maintenance.

It’s easy to understand why so many people who enjoy houseplants are drawn to calathea species. The rectangular foliage of these beautiful tropical beauties features unique veining and patterns. But because they’re picky about the environment and care they need (think frequent watering and high humidity), they’re not necessarily the ideal option for inexperienced plant enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, if you’re prepared to put in the extra work, this challenging plant has a lot going for it. Calthea oribifolia grows quickly and is rich, eye-catching, and safe for pets.

Calathea Orbifolia Plant Overview

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Common Name Round-leaved calathea
Botanical Name Calathea orbifolia syn. Geoppertia orbifolia
Family Marantaceae
Plant Type Perennial, herbaceous
Mature Size 2-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acid, neutral, alkaline
Hardiness Zones 11-12 (USDA)
Native Area South America

Calathea Orbifolia Care

Even the most seasoned plant parents find it difficult to maintain calatheas alive because they require a lot of care to flourish. Their requirement for a warm, humid atmosphere is one of the reasons they are frequently raised in greenhouses. However, you can enjoy the beauty of Calathea orbifolia in your own house if you can replicate the tropical environment they adore. The primary needs for care are as follows:

  • Achieving the ideal ratio of filtered light. 
  • During the growing season, apply a monthly application of a balanced liquid fertilizer. 
  • Requiring a warm, draft-free atmosphere with high humidity. Imagine warm, humid air, shaded areas, and pleasant weather. 
  • Needing a potting mix that is loose and holds moisture. 
  • Dusting the leaves of your plant on a regular basis helps keep their pores clear, optimizing the amount of light they can absorb and encouraging healthy growth.

Light Requirements

Calathea orbifolia is all about promoting lush, healthy-looking foliage, and providing the proper diffused light is one of the keys to success. Leaf burn, fading patterns, and unsightly brown blotches are all caused by direct sunlight. On the other hand, the leaves won’t appear their healthiest or fullest if the lighting is too low. Additionally, rotating the plant once a month encourages balanced growth.

Soil and Potting

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The ideal potting mix for Calathea orbifolia is fine, loose, and lightweight because of its delicate, little roots. Choose a plant with good water-retaining properties for these plants, as they require a lot of moisture. Blends intended for African violets are effective. To manufacture your own, use a combination that is a little bit acidic. About equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss (or, for a more sustainable option, coconut coir).

Verify that there are enough drainage holes in the pot. Although Calathea orbifolia prefers steady moisture, root rot is caused by waterlogging.


Many first-time owners of round-leaved calatheas make mistakes with watering. Achieving the ideal balance can be challenging because overwatering causes root rot and eventually kills your plant. Always use your finger to feel the first few inches of soil. Wait a few days and check again if it feels damp and the soil falls off on your finger. Most of the time, watering is necessary if the soil seems dry.

These plants cannot withstand soggy roots, even though they require constant rainfall. Watering from the bottom allows moisture to reach the roots and the middle of the pot, and the little and often method is the most effective. When water is poured from above, it frequently runs all the way to the bottom. Don’t forget to examine the dirt a few hours later. Empty any extra water from the tray or saucer beneath the pot if the soil is completely wet.

Using tap water left out overnight or distilled or filtered water helps avoid the crisping or yellowing of leaves that certain harmful minerals might cause.

Temperature and Environment

Draughts, extreme heat or air conditioning, and freezing temperatures are not appreciated by these plants. They require constant humidity and warmth. Lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit can cause issues. The optimal temperature range for Calathea orbifolia is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be maintained in your home.

Calathea with round leaves provides excellent choices for light-colored, cozy bathrooms. Although 60% humidity is more likely to support plant growth, humidity levels above 50% are necessary to maintain the appearance of health in your plant. If this isn’t something that naturally occurs in your home, you might want to use a humidifier, put your plant in a large terrarium or under a glass dome, or use a pebble tray with water in the base to keep your plant submerged. Adjusting humidity levels may also be made easier with regular sprinkling.


Don’t overdo it, but during the growing season, applying a small amount of nitrogen-rich fertilizer once a month can help encourage lush, robust foliage. The leaves can get scorched by too much or too powerful of a fertilizer.


There is no high-maintenance pruning program for Calathea orbifolia. Simply trim the stems to about an inch above the soil line to get rid of any dead or dying leaves. This facilitates the focus of energy on fresh, more robust growth. To lower the chance of spreading fungus-related illnesses, always use clean pruning shears or scissors.

Propagating Calathea Orbifolia

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Although difficult, Calathea orbifolia can be propagated. You will only be able to accomplish this if you have a huge, robust, mature plant because it is done by root division.

As these sensitive species prefer not to be disturbed, it makes sense to double up on tasks and propagate while you’re repotting your plant for optimal results. When the weather is warmest and growth is at its fastest, propagate as much as possible in the late spring or early summer. Before splitting up plants, make sure they are properly hydrated. This is how your round-leaved calathea should be propagated.

  • Carefully take the plant out of the pot. This plant has sensitive roots, so take great care not to pull them too hard. This operation can occasionally be facilitated by turning the pot on its side and tapping it firmly to dislodge the root ball. 
  • Typically, young clusters emerge from the side of the parent plant. You want to break these off, leaving one leaf and a tuber root behind. Try not to break the roots as you carefully separate them. 
  • Plant the divided infant portion as soon as possible in a loose, sterile potting mix that drains well. It’s best not to expose the fragile roots for too long.
  • One of the main issues with Calathea orbifolia divisions is transplant shock. Make sure they are in a warm, humid area with access to bright, indirect light to reduce any stress. 
  • Make sure the new plant is regularly damp but not soggy. For a few weeks, cover the divide with a zip-lock plastic bag to help keep the humidity and moisture levels stable. When you start to see new growth after about three weeks, you can take the bag off.

Potting and Repotting Calathea Orbifolia

Repotting is imminent if you notice the roots beginning to protrude through the drainage holes in the pot. Repotting Calathea orbifolia should only be done when absolutely necessary, and care should be taken to reduce the possibility of transplant shock.

Choose a pot that is two to three inches bigger than the original, and don’t stress about cleaning the rootball of all the previous dirt. Rather than trying to replace all of the original potting soil that came with your rootball, it’s preferable to fill in approximately that amount.

Common Pests

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Spider mites are fond of Calathea orbifolia leaf. Nevertheless, as they favor low humidity conditions, the presence of these pests may indicate that your plant needs a more humid environment.

Common Problems with Calathea Orbifolia

The round-leaved calathea is a tough plant, therefore it can be prone to a few problems if it doesn’t get the proper care and attention. Among the things to watch out for are:

Leaves Turning Yellow

One of the most frequent issues with Calathea orbifolias is overwatering, and the gorgeous leaves turning yellow could be an indication that you are making this error.

Curling Leaves and Brown Tips

The tips of your Calathea orbifolia may turn brown and the leaves may begin to curl if you don’t give it adequate water or humidity. Nonetheless, elder leaves frequently have some natural browning at the tips; therefore, it’s not always a cause for concern.

These symptoms may also indicate that your plant is receiving excessively high levels of solar radiation. Always choose a location with diffused light over direct light to avoid sunburn.

Drooping or Dropping Leaves

Even the strongest round-leaved calathea plants can experience some leaf drooping during the day. In most cases, there’s no need to worry if they become more alert at night. On the other hand, continuous drooping or dropping of leaves may indicate that your plant needs more moisture and humidity.

Also Read: Abelia Complete Guide To Grow And Care

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