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Calathea Rufibarba Care Guide | Velvet Calathea (AKA Furry Feather)

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How do you care for your Calathea Rufibarba? Your Furry Feather needs around 60℉ to 65℉ in temperature, just enough water so that the soil is always moist but never soggy, and a humidity level between 40% to 60%.  

Calathea Rufibarba

The Goeppertia Rufibarba, also called Calathea Rufibarba, Furry Feather, Fuzzy Feather, and Velvet Calathea, is one of the most beautiful Calatheas you’ll see around. With long and narrow green leaves, a dark maroon-red back, and long stems, this variety is sure to bring new life to any space in your home.

As far as Calathea varieties go, their care is quite similar to that of the furry feather Calathea’s care. Coming from the South American tropics, this plant requires similar conditions to thrive.

If you’re a new Calathea plant owner, you may be concerned about your Calathea Rufibarba dying.

Luckily, this guide will take you through everything you need to know, from how to repot a Calathea to its watering schedule and what you’ll need to set up its usual environment.

Top Tips for Growing Goeppertia Rufibarba

The Goeppertia Rufibarba is a cultivar noted for its long slender leaves and dark purplish-red underside. The leaves tend to have tiny hairs sticking out of them, making them unique to other Calatheas.

Goeppertia Rufibarba is a cultivar within the Calathea genus. They are cousins to the Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) and fall under the Marantaceae family.  To get these guys growing well, you’ll have to mimic tropical conditions.

Ensure that the temperature and humidity around the plant are at a medium to a high level. Fertilize your plant with the correct fertilizer and try to keep it away from any heavy draughts. With a solid watering schedule, your plant will thrive well.

Soil is vital, so be sure to add in a high organic material with peat moss or coco peat. You can also aid drainage by adding perlite or vermiculite to the soil. These will help maintain loose and nutrient-rich soil.

Calathea Rufibarba Plant Soil Requirements

Since Calatheas usually grow on the forest floor in their natural habitat, your newly purchased Calathea needs a soil mix high in organic matter.

This means that your soil should be dark (almost black) in color, thanks to the mulches, peats, and compost contained in the soil.

A rich soil mix will help your plant soak up the nutrients it needs to thrive, while peat moss and mulch in the soil will help you drain any excess water that the plant does not need.

If you’re not a fan of heavy pots filled with dirt, LECA balls are a great alternative that can help keep your plant healthy without having to mix your soil.

Calathea Rufibarba Care

Calathea Rufibarba Watering Requirements

Rufibarba Calathea needs to be kept moist at all times. The plant can tolerate drying out a little bit between waterings but should never be completely dry.

You can water your Calathea when you feel that the top two inches of soil are completely dry (you can check this by dipping your finger in the pot).

If the soil is dry, you can slowly water the plant until you see water draining into the bottom pan.

You can also try bottom watering, which will take a bit longer but ensures that the roots get enough water while all other water will surface to the top. Once the pot is saturated, the excess water will pool at the bottom, and you can discard this so that the soil doesn’t become soggy.  

An overwatered Calathea is not a pretty sight. The discolored leaves may leave you feeling like you’ve failed your plant baby.

Luckily, with a bit of TLC and a couple of tools, you can get your plant back into shape. So be sure to get yourself a water meter to ensure that you’re watering at the correct times.

Calathea Rufibarba Light Requirements

Calatheas love the dappled shade and lots of indirect light. With enough light, the plant will keep producing colored leaves and will continue to look full and healthy.

You can place your plant in an east-facing window or somewhere that is bright enough without any direct sunlight to burn the leaves.

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much light. If your Calatheas look a bit matte with a few dark spots randomly, you’ve probably got a sunburnt plant.

Calatheas live on the jungle floor. They usually receive minimal UV rays thanks to the canopies above them. Keep this in mind when placing your new baby somewhere around the house. 

If you’re finding that your plant is not growing as full as you’d hoped or the colors seem a bit bleak, you may want to consider adding some more light.

Whether you’re trying to keep it alive during winter or you’re living in a colder region, you can always add some grow lights around your plant.

Calathea plant

Calathea Rufibarba Temperature

The temperature surrounding a Calathea Rufibarba needs to be around 60℉ to 65℉. Sometimes, the plant will be able to tolerate up to 80℉, but anything below 55℉ will cause shock to the plant.

Grow lights are another easy way to increase the temperature surrounding your plant. Be sure to check with the instruction manual to avoid your grow lights burning your plant. If your light is placed correctly, you can quickly increase your plants’ light, temperature, and humidity.

Calathea Rufibarba Humidity

In the tropics, the humidity is relatively high, as opposed to in the heart of winter in the middle of your living room. Your Calathea will need anywhere around 40 to 60% humidity to truly thrive.

If you find that your plant is droopy (for a longer time than what feels normal), you may want to drop a couple of pebbles at the bottom of its tray and cover them with water to create a microclimate.

The water will evaporate around the plant and increase humidity. You can also add a diffuser somewhere in the room or store all of your plants in the same location.

Be sure not to water plants at night, though, as this can usually cause issues with molding or rot, especially if you get any water on the leaves. Try to water your plant in the morning so that the sun can do its job and help your plant thrive.

Calathea Rufibarba Fertilizer

As with many tropical plants, the Feather Calathea also appreciates a good feed every month or so. Using a liquid fertilizer will be best, as it is easier to apply and will reach the roots much faster than a standard powder or tablet.

It is best to feed your plant during the growing season. This usually falls between Spring to Summer. Hold off during dormancy periods as the plant will not have as much need for fertilizers.

A good nitrogen-rich fertilizer will help with foliage during maturation. A solid 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer will help improve the plants’ overall performance when it comes time to bloom.

Pro Tip: Nitrogen (N) helps the foliage develop; Phosphorous (P) is linked to the flowers or fruits of a plant, while Potassium (K) aids the overall health of the plant. Deciding what you need most from your plant will help you choose the best fertilizer.

Although, when in doubt, a 10-10-10 ratio is suitable for almost anything.

Calathea Rufibarba Repotting

When you first receive your new plant baby, you may be wondering how to repot Calatheas. At first, you’ll want to wait and allow the plant to acclimate to its new home and environment.

Repotting could disrupt the roots too much and send your Velvet Calathea into transplant shock.

Only consider Calathea repotting once you know the plant is root bound in the current pot. It’s also a good rule of thumb to amend the soil at least once a year (just before spring) to allow the plant some fresh nutrients before growing periods.

When repotting, you’ll have to be careful not to disturb the root ball too much and take care not to damage any of the rhizomes.

Always plant it in a pot one size bigger, as this will ensure enough room for new root growth without stunting the plant completely.

Calathea Rufibarba Pruning

Velvet Calathea care also means pruning your plant every now and then. While your plant will naturally shed any old leaves and stems, most people prefer pruning with sharp shears to remove any unsightly and dying leaves.

Be sure always to use clean shears, as you can carry contagions from one plant to the next.

Calathea Rufibarba Propagation

At a certain point (usually after the first growth season), your Calathea Fuzzy may be old enough to start propagating. Try to do this once you’ve pruned and prepared your plant to be repotted.

During that process, you can easily shake off any loose soil and slowly begin to cut the plant into the desired sections.

Make sure that each section has at least one leaf, although the more leaves, the better chances of successfully dividing the plant.

Trying to propagate with cuttings is not a great way to propagate this plant. Calathea rhizomes are crucial for successful propagation.

Calathea Rufibarba Blooms

Yes, your already beautiful Calathea’s fuzzy leaves can be accompanied by even more beautiful flowers. The Calathea Rufibarba tends to bloom after it has reached maturity. You’ll notice these flowers during spring and summer.

With the right conditions, your Calathea will give off bright yellow clusters of flowers at the base of the plant.

Be sure to carefully chop them off after they die, as they have the potential to steal energy and nutrients from the existing foliage.

Common Problems With Furry Feather Calathea

With every Calathea Velvet, there are possible issues that you can face. This doesn’t mean that you need to throw out your plant, as chances of recovery are pretty high if you know what to look out for.

For example, recovering from overwatering will take time, but as long as there is no substantial damage to the rhizomes, your Calathea will pop back up once it finds itself in better conditions.

Here are just a handful of issues you can expect.

Yellow or Brown Leaves

Leaf discoloration is the ultimate tell-tale sign that something is either intrinsically wrong with the soil or with the water your plant is receiving nutrients from.

If your Calathea Rufibarba has dead tips, this is a sign that you’ve somehow fed the plant too much manganese (Mn). This could be because of too much fertilizer or even an off-balanced PH level.

In this case, check that the soil PH is around six and rinse out the soil with distilled water. This should allow you to get rid of any excess nutrients. You can cut off brown tips and care for your plant using purified water only until the problem has been resolved.

Other reasons for a yellow-leaved Furry Feather are low fertilizer, overwatering, and too much light. You’ll notice yellow between the veins of the plant.

This means that there is not enough chlorophyll. To fix this, you can add some more nitrogen and iron-rich fertilizer and then continue to water your Calathea less and remove it from bright light. 

Not Enough Sunlight

Sometimes, Calathea Rufibarba’s drooping happens simply because of these plants’ natural circadian rhythm. Drooping leaves is not always an indication of an issue. Although, without enough indirect sunlight, your plant will begin to lighten, and the red and green colors won’t be as striking.

If your plant is looking a little less dramatic than usual, you may want to consider changing the lighting and offering more indirect light. In some cases, winter is a significant cause for concern. With weaker UV rays, your Calathea may be able to spend an hour or two in direct sunlight.

Be cautious, though, as moving to a brighter window can work just as well.  

Pests – Spider Mites and Mealybugs

Calathea velvet touch can easily become infected by a range of pests like spider mites or mealybugs. These are easier to spot as you’ll notice some white specks of what looks like candy floss.

When you see these, give the plant a nice wash (under the shower or in the rain) and spray the leaves with a neem oil insecticide solution. You can buy these premade or mix your own. After that, you’ll have to quarantine the infected plant to save the rest from the same sad fate.

If you’re really in a pinch, you can also mix together some blended-up onion, garlic, dishwasher liquid, and water. Make sure that you dilute it enough, or it can burn the plant leaves. Spray this on the infected area regularly until the infestation is managed.

Best Products for Calathea Rufibarba

Frequently Asked Questions About Calathea Rufibarba

Looking after your Calathea with velvet leaves and maintaining its glory comes with many questions. Keep reading to see if we’ve answered yours.

Does Calathea Rufibarba Flower?

Yes, the Calathea (Goeppertia) Rufibarba does flower. You can expect colorful blooms around summer and spring. Although, you may want to wait for a mature plant (around 23 inches tall) before hoping to see those beautiful flowers spring to life.

Does Calathea Rufibarba Need Fertilizing?

Your Calathea does need fertilizing during its growth period. It will be putting out new shoots in summer and spring that may need some extra encouragement to thrive.

You may want to avoid fertilizing during its dormancy period during the winter as this will just wash away eventually.

Can I Water My Calathea With Tap Water?

Tap water straight from the tap (without filtration or purification) may not be the best answer to your Calathea’s problems.

Tap water often contains chemicals like Flouride and Chlorine that negatively impact your plant baby. So, it may be best not to water your plant with tap water right out of the tap.

Allow the water to stand for a while before using it (as some of the chemicals dissipate) or use distilled and purified water only.

How Often Should You Water Calathea Rufibarba?

Your Calathea Rufibarba needs to be watered around once a week or once every ten days as a rule of thumb.

You will, however, have to be mindful of where your plant is located and how quickly it is growing, as this may change how often you need to water.

Why Are My Calathea Leaves a Weird Color?

Your Calathea’s leaves may turn a yellowish color (or brown) depending on what is wrong with it.

In most cases, the change in color could relate to the amount of light it is receiving, or it could be a consequence of the watering schedule and humidity surrounding the plant.

Is Velvet Calatheas Really Fuzzy?

The Goeppertia Rufibarba received its nicknames from the texture of the leaves. It’s usually called furry feather Calathea, fuzzy Calathea, or Velvet Calathea.

The red-backed, green foliage often has tiny little hairs covering the leaves. This gives a velvety texture and thus its nicknames.

Is Calathea Rufibarba Toxic?

Toxic plants usually contain some sort of active substance that can vary based on the locality, maturity of the plant as well as part of the plant that you’ve been exposed to. Luckily, the Furry Feather plant has none of these active substances or toxins.

Is Calathea Rufibarba Safe for Cats, Dogs, or Humans?

The Rufibarba Calathea has no toxic elements, so it is safe for pets or humans.

Does Calathea Need Sunlight?

Goeppertia Rufibarba needs quite a bit of indirect sunlight. Usually, any kind of light from windows or dappled through trees. However, direct sunlight for an extended time will cause the leaves to sunburn.

Are Calathea Rufibarba’s Hard to Care For?

For new plant parents, a Calathea may seem a bit daunting. It definitely is a little bit trickier than a Pothos plant. Although, once you manage to simulate conditions reflective of its natural tropical habitat, you’ll soon see that this plant is as simple as your favorite plants.

Why Is My Calathea Rufibarba Drooping?

Calathea tends to droop during a certain time of the day as a product of nyctinasty (nik-ti-nasty). The plant “moves” according to temperature and time of day, which is the reason why plants from the Marantaceae family tend to be called Prayer plants.

This is perfectly normal. Other times, your plant could be dropping because it is yearning for a drink of water.

Why Does My Calathea Have Brown Tips?

Sometimes your Fuzzy Feather Calathea will show some brown tips. This can occur for a couple of reasons. So, it’s best to troubleshoot them first.

If you’re using tap water, the minerals in the water could cause brown tips. Other causes include low humidity, overfeeding with fertilizer, or pests.

Where Can I Buy a Calathea Rufibarba?

These days, your Calathea Rufibarba awaits at almost any outlet. The quickest option, though, is to purchase them online.

Check out the links below to get your hands on a Furry Calathea:

How to Stop Your Calathea Rufibarba Dying – In Summary

Calatheas are known to be a little tricky to take care of. If this is your first plant, you’ll want to pay extra special attention to the temperature and humidity.

Always try to mimic the natural environment of these kinds of cultivars to get a good and healthy plant.

Be sure to repot Calatheas regularly and feed the soil during the growing season. Keep track of the watering schedule, and don’t forget to mist your plant every now and again to ensure you’ve got clean and pest-free leaves and stems.

After following these steps, your wondrous Velvet Queen will rise to fill up any space you put her in.