The Calathea family is popular for its luscious green leaves. It adds a tropical flavor to any room and isn’t very hard to take care of.
There are more than three hundred varieties of Calathea, but Orbifolia holds its own as a popular choice for owners.
The Calathea genus is part of the Marantaceae family, which is actually a flowering species of tropical plants.
They come from the tropical regions of Africa, usually found in forest-like environments, specifically on the forest floor.
Calathea height varies in different species, and some can grow quite tall and large. But Calathea Orbifolia tops out at a height of about 3 feet (100cm). So, it’s not too large for a medium-sized room or office.
Orbifolia is sometimes called Geoppertia or even Maranta Orbifolia – maranta is part of the general family.
Whatever you call it, it’s the same plant, and it requires quite specific requirement. So, expect a step by step guide on Calathea Orbifolia care.
Calathea Orbifolia Care Tips
When it comes to taking care of any plant, the basic areas to look at are how to maintain, how to propagate, and how to address common problems. We’ll look at all of these, starting with basic care.
Calathea Orbifolia Light Requirements
Does your Calathea Orbifolia need sunlight? Yes, it does, although it is particular about how it receives that sunlight.
As with all plants, it’s best to try to emulate the light that the plant would experience in its natural environment.
In this case, Orbifolia is a forest floor-dwelling plant. It finds its dappled or filtered lights beneath a canopy. So, it seldom experiences direct sunlight.
In fact, medium or low-level light is ideal for Orbifolia. So a corner out of direct sunlight might be the first option to try.
Best Light For Calathea Orbifolia
Indirect sunlight is the best picture to have in mind. This is different from placing the plant in darkness.
It still needs light – some say the best way to gauge this is by seeing whether you can read comfortably in the light provided. In many cases, this will be ideal for Calathea.
Signs Your Calathea Orbifolia Needs More Light?
Most plants will begin to ‘reach’ for light if they are not getting enough. This means that they will begin to lengthen and grow towards a light source.
If they still aren’t getting enough light, they will grow poorly, or generally look sparse or ‘thin’. It will seem like there is too much space between the leaves
On the other hand, too much sun may start browning the edges of the leaves, making them ‘crispy’.
Calathea Orbifolia Temperature Requirements
Orbifolia is very amenable to an average home temperature. It’s quite happy to live in a temperate 65°F (18°C) to 75ºF (24ºC).
A word of caution: They don’t like it on the cold end of the spectrum, and any drops below that range, especially sudden ones, will cause damage.
For this reason, a balcony or verandah isn’t recommended if your area suffers from cold days. This seems logical, as they have tropical origins.
On the other side of the coin, if they are too hot they will start to drop leaves, or at the very least, their leaves will start to curl. Try a cooler spot in the home.
When To Prune Your Calathea Orbifolia
Orbifolia is not a plant that requires lots of pruning. So, pruning for growth isn’t really an issue.
But if you want to remove damaged bits or browning leaves, you can cut the growth near the base of that leaf’s stem.
That way, you will encourage new growth. Remember to use a pair of cutters wiped with rubbing alcohol to avoid any diseases being transmitted to the plant.
Best Fertilizer For Calathea Orbifolia
Calathea fertilizer requirements are pretty straightforward. When you fertilize during the growing season, your best gift for Orbifolia is to use organic soluble fertilizer. Use an organic, water-based solution (25% mix to water).
If you have no choice but to use dry fertilizer, leave some space between the root stem and the placement of the fertilizer in the soil.
Best time to Fertilize your Calathea Orbifolia
It’s not usually necessary to fertilize during the winter months, as the plant is dormant. Do not use any shine spray products to shine up the leaves, either.
Start with a schedule of once a month during the spring and summer seasons. If it looks like you need to up the rota, increase in small amounts.
Calathea Orbifolia Watering Requirements
The question of how often to water Calathea Orbifolia always crops up. The key issue with Orbifolia and water is that the soil needs to maintain a mild level of moisture. It shouldn’t be too wet, but it cannot dry out completely.
The best way to tell whether your soil is too dry is to have a look at the top two inches (5cm) of soil.
If this is dry, and the level below is still showing signs of slight moisture, it’s time to give the plant another drops or two.
The ins and outs of watering is a balancing act. And if you’re new to keeping plants, it’s about developing a feel for what works. Some prefer a schedule upon which they measure regularity and amounts.
You can also schedule occasions for light watering, and occasional stronger watering’s (left to drain) to flush out the soil, especially before a new fertilizing feed.
Lots of people are trying watering globes as an effective way to keep soil moisture constant.
If your tap water contains a lot of chemicals, use bottled or purified water. Tap water left overnight may do the job just as well.
Calathea Orbifolia Humidity Requirements
Humidity is another factor when it comes to plants. Put simply: Some plants require more humidity than others.
The easiest way to ensure Calathea humidity is with a pebble tray. It’s a simple base of pebbles and small stones upon which to place your plant pot.
Fill the pebble tray with water, and normal evaporation does the rest.
If you place your Orbifolia in a bathroom or kitchen, the normal use of showers and taps does a fair job of putting vapor in the air.
A neat trick that works similarly is to place a few hollow seashells on top of the oil in the plant pot. Fill them with water. Same principle.
Should I Mist My Calathea Orbifolia?
Misting may help if you see leaves are slightly browning or curling during the day. It may be a sign of a plant struggling for humidity.
This shouldn’t be a problem in a bathroom or kitchen. But if you do decide to mist, do so in the morning. Take care not to overdo it, though. Excessive water on leaves invites pests.
Soil type for an Orbifolia Plant
The soil you use plays a critical part in maintaining a strong and healthy plant. Calathea, in general, loves their soil to have good drainage but maintain good moisture.
The ideal composition for this is peat-based coir. Even better if the mix contains perlite. A combination of about two-thirds peat and one-third perlite is quite perfect for most situations.
It allows enough space for roots to flourish while draining effectively and maintaining soil moisture. Some plant owners even add a small amount of bark to the mix.
Use only organic compounds in your Calathea soil, as the Orbifolia doesn’t really like synthetic surroundings.
How To Make Calathea Orbifolia Flower
Some owners have had success with getting their Calathea to flower. Unfortunately, it’s not a guaranteed occurrence.
These plants will flower in their natural habitat, but very few manage to do so indoors.
If indeed you are lucky enough to receive flowers from your plant, they will occur during springtime.
Calathea Orbifolia Care In Winter
In winter, Calathea goes dormant and slows growth. While it’s good to continue to keep the soil moist, there’s no need to keep fertilizing. Make sure the air is still humid, though.
You may not see any growth during this time. Leaves may also slightly curl. If you see brown edges, you can add water (check the soil to gauge). All in all, the plant should remain green.
How To Propagate Calathea Orbifolia
Propagation is not as straightforward for the Orbifolia as it may be for some other houseplants. This is why some prospective owners are a little nervous about getting them.
But once you have the knack, it’s not that difficult. It’s just a different approach.
The main challenge is that Calathea Orbifolia is sensitive to disturbances like temperature changes, light changes, and so forth.
When cutting them for propagation, the same issue applies. For Calathea, a method known as rhizome division is the most successful method of propagation.
Firstly, only do this at the start of spring – or the growing season. You need to remove the plant from the pot and clear the roots and rhizomes from as much soil as possible.
Try to divide and cut the plant so that you have a stem containing some roots. Now repot the new plants.
Take special care of the new cutting. You can even mist it daily and try to create a small greenhouse with plastic if you think it needs protection. Once you see new growth, remove the plastic” greenhouse”.
When to Re-pot Your Calathea Orbifolia
As mentioned, your Calathea can sometimes resist changes in the environment. On the other hand, it doesn’t like being rootbound.
When repotting, try to keep it to once every two years. Repot in the growing season and be gentle. This would be a good time to inspect the roots for rot or signs of ill-health as well, just in case.
How To Take Care Of Calathea Orbifolia: Diseases and Other Problems
Like all house plants, Calathea Orbifolia is susceptible to certain ailments, bugs, pests, and diseases.
Many of the issues can be traced to incorrect watering situations or bad placement or conditions. Let’s take a look at the most common issues.
Dry vs. Overwatered Calathea Orbifolia
Overwatering? Look for symptoms like rotting stems or roots. Overwatering squeezes the soil of oxygen, which the plant needs. If your plant looks weak and fragile despite a regular watering regimen, you may be giving it too much water.
On the other hand, if you’re letting your soil dry out too much, your leaves may become brown or yellow. So it’s a balancing act.
Why Does My Calathea Orbifolia Have Crispy Leaves
Crispy leaves are a sign of low humidity. Try some of the tips mentioned above to up the humidity in the room.
A really common issue caused by overwatering and poor drainage. When the soil is too wet or soggy, root rot might set in. It’s important to identify root rot early because if left untreated, it’s a plant killer.
Root rot is a fungus. It causes your leaves to turn yellow and the plant to slow in growth. Check for it by removing the plant from the soil and checking the roots.
Roots are normally firm and a healthy white (maybe a bit of yellow). But if you spot black, brown, and mushy bits, take action!
Wash the roots thoroughly with running water, and then cut back the infected bits as far as possible. Hopefully, you will still have most of the root system intact. Replant with new soil and fertilizer.
Whitefly, aphids, mealybugs, and thrips all love a bit of houseplant. And Calathea is as good a leaf to attack as any.
- Thrips – leave brown patches on the leaves, and attack the undersides of the leaves first. Change the oil when you treat for thrips – they lay eggs in the soil.
- Soil gnats – also breed in the soil and create chaos in the leaves like thrips.
- Mealybugs – create a sort of mold on the leaves that stunts growth and causes brown or drooping leaves.
- Aphids – these bugs cause leaves to be misshapen and become sticky. The “honeydew” effect is a sticky liquid secreted by the aphids likely as a side effect of their consuming the plant sap from your plants. You can also see aphids with the naked eye. Strangely, some ants eat aphids, and in that case, the ants might be your friends.
Calathea Orbifolia Spider Mites
Spider mites are little creepy crawlies that reproduce super quickly and leave a fine webby residue on the plants they infest.
They are tricky to eliminate once and for all, but they absolutely should be. Left unattended, they can cause serious damage and even eventually end a plant’s life.
Spider mites look like very small… Well, spiders. They are actually arachnids (not insects) and they do spin webs.
They cause leaves to yellow and brown, starting with unsightly spots that grow into holes and eventually take over the leaf.
The best course of action involves washing the plant with an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Be sure to include the underside of the leaves as well, as spider mites love to hide.
What makes spider mites nastier is their ability to sometimes build up an immunity to some treatments. So change up the insecticidal soap and neem oil from time to time.
Also, just a note to try the soap on a small section first, to see if your plant reacts badly to the chemical. If not, forge ahead with the rest of the plant.
Calathea Orbifolia Drooping Leaves
Drooping leaves may be caused by underwatering, or else it might be root rot. Chances are if the leaves are also yellowing, it could be insects affecting the plant. If you’re unsure, check for all possibilities.
Calathea Orbifolia Leaves Turning Yellow
Yellow leaves point to water issues. Either underwatering or overwatering may be affecting your plant.
If it’s not too serious, try altering the water regimen. A healthy plant should come back to you soon enough.
Calathea Orbifolia Brown Spots
Calathea’s brown edges are annoying and unsightly. The main culprits here are underwatering and low humidity. Try fixing this with better soil, misting, or a pebble tray.
If it’s the tips turning brown, you may also be overfertilizing. Cut back on the regularity, and if necessary the dosage. If the brown spots are turning into holes, there may be pests or spider mites.
Calathea Orbifolia Best Products
Every owner has their preference, of course. But there are certain science-based recommendations that can help anyone acquire only the best for their precious plants.
Let’s take a quick look at the best recommendations for products needed to take care of your Calathea.
Best Pots For Calathea Orbifolia
You might be wondering about what the best Calathea Orbifolia basket or pot might be for you.
Here’s something rarely mentioned: Terra cotta pots tend to dry out the soil mix a bit too well.
A good plastic pot will be the way to go, as it can retain moisture a little better. They also work best with a pebble tray.
You could also try a woven basket with an inner plastic layer. Baskets tend to offer a more attractive look for a home with a focus on decor.
Best Soil For Calathea Orbifolia
We’ve established that good peat-based soil is what you’re ideally looking for. But you should be aware that a change out in the soil from time to time is good.
Peat becomes compacted over time and can eventually strangle the roots of oxygen and nutrients.
If you need an alternative to a perlite supplement, use soil with pumice. Do not accept vermiculite, as it holds onto too much moisture.
Best Potting Mix For Calathea Orbifolia
As mentioned, – the key features in soil are excellent drainage and moisture retention. Mix two-quarters organic potting soil (peat-based), one-quarter perlite, and one-quarter orchid bark. A good pre-purchased organic soil is also an option.
Calathea Orbifolia Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered most of the important information about Calathea Orbifolia. But here are a few FAQs people have when acquiring these plants:
Is Calathea Orbifolia Safe for Cats
If you have curious kitties, you always want to check whether a new houseplant can cause it harm. Good news! Calathea Orbifolia is harmless to pets – that’s cats and dogs.
Is Calathea Orbifolia Toxic
Hooray! Calathea Orbifolia is not toxic to cats or dogs, and it’s quite safe for humans, too. Don’t eat it – they’re not very good to eat, anyway.
And they may give you a tummy ache. But at least – as far as anyone knows – it won’t make you seriously ill or poison you.
Final Thoughts on Calathea Orbifolia
Like most of the Calathea family, Orbifolia is a fabulous, beautiful plant to add to an office or home.
Provided it has a good, comfortable spot – good light and humidity, etc – it shouldn’t take too much effort to keep healthy.
While propagation can be a challenge for first timers, it’s not too difficult once you get the knack for it.
Best of all, Orbifolia is a perfect size for a corner plant (provided it has a light) and makes any room feel more “tropical” by its very presence.
Looking at other Calathea varieties? See what goes into caring for a Calathea Warscewiczii. Generally, they are fairly easy to care for.
Most of them will love it indoors, and an average house temperature will suit them just fine.
With that said, there’s no reason why you should be able to look after a beautiful Calathea Orbifolia with these tips.
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