Calatheas are rare plants known for their striking and contrasting color palette. They will liven up your home with bold colors of green, pinks, and purples.
If you’re lucky, you might even be able to bloom your calathea, offering white or orange flowers that just add to the plant’s beauty.
There are many types of Calatheas, from beginner-friendly, pinstripe, and zebra Calatheas to needier (but totally worth it!) peacock and rosy Calatheas.
These pet-friendly plants require medium to high humidity and work great in bathrooms and kitchens.
With dozens of species and hundreds of hybrids, choosing your favorite can be challenging. Let’s take a look at the different Calathea species to help you find your perfect match.
The Striking Calathea Species
The Calathea’s lower classifications are of the genus, neotropical rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants. And part of the Marantaceae family.
This plant originated from tropical regions, specifically Brazil. Here, they were used for handicrafts and even food preparation.
The types of Calathea with lanceolate, or longer, pointed leaves, were used to weave baskets. While the wider, shorter leaves were used to wrap up food.
The Calathea species is nicknamed ‘prayer plant’ due to its natural leaf movements known as nyctinasty.
This is when the leaves curl and fold or move due to the light patterns changing from day to night.
The plant does this to maximize daytime light for photosynthesis and growth. The Calathea’s leaves rise and drop by altering the water pressure inside them.
Most Calathea can be identified by their unique patterned and sometimes brightly colored leaves—these range from stripes, distinctive outlines, and even full underside color.
The Calathea height can vary based on the types. But most grow no more than 2 to 3-feet, this and low lighting, make them great for smaller rooms, like offices or bathrooms.
Caring for Your Calathea
Calatheas are pet-friendly plants and somewhat easy to care for. They are not a fan of direct sunlight, thriving in low-light areas. This is because they naturally grow on the forest floor under a canopy of trees and high shrubs, getting limited light.
This plant species likes moist soil or potting mediums but doesn’t like to be swimming in water. A watering globe can help keep the soil damp but not soaking.
Since they are tropical plants, they thrive in warmer temperatures, 65-80°F with high humidity, more than 60%.
However, if you live in a low humidity climate, it won’t be detrimental to your plant’s survival. You can stream them in the bathroom, place a humidifier close by, put dampened mulch around the plant, regularly mist it, or simply place bowls of water around your Calathea.
Calatheas usually bloom in the wild, but most household Calatheas won’t. While using fertilizer isn’t necessary for your plant’s maintenance, using a standard household fertilizer should get them blooming beautifully.
Overall, the Calathea needs some TLC, especially speaking about their humidity and water requirements.
They don’t require regular pruning, besides trimming off brown or yellowed leaves to keep them looking in tip-top shape.
How Many Calathea Types Are There?
The Calathea is a diverse species. There are several dozen varieties with over 300 hybrid crosses, making picking a favorite rather tricky.
Some are green and very normal looking, while others are plants with purple undersides, leaves that look like they’re from outer space.
Calathea Varieties with Names and Photos
Calathea Lancifolia – Rattlesnake Plant
Its unique-looking leaves can identify this type of Calathea. The large leaves are long and pointy with crimped-looking edges.
The Calathea Lancifolia is a green plant with a purple underside on the leaves.
The foliage pattern alternates between small and large ellipses, resembling the design on a rattlesnake’s skin, hence its common name.
This variation is slightly more challenging to grow than others but will reward you with up to 30 inches of bold and beautiful foliage.
It requires a lot of heat and humidity with good drainage. In nature, this plant usually produces small yellow flowers late spring, but this event is unlikely when kept as a household plant.
Calathea Orbifolia – Round-Leaf Calathea
The Calathea Orbifolia has been given the common name of round-leaf Calathea because of its large and attractive leaves.
The foliage will impress any house guest with bright green and silvery striped patterns, not to mention its unique silvery underside.
Since the beauty of this plant captures the hearts of so many, it can be tricky to get your hands on.
The Calathea requires a lot of time and maintenance. If you are a beginner gardener or have a busy schedule, maybe this type of Calathea isn’t for you. But those who do dare to journey will not be disappointed with the results.
Calathea ‘PP0005’ – Network Calathea
This Calathea variety can be recognized by its bright green leaves with small yellow geometric-like dots covering the leaves, looking like stained glass or mosaics.
To add to the subtle beauty of this plant, the leaves have a scalloped pattern, gently adding texture to any room they are placed.
Unlike the rattlesnake and round-leaf Calathea, the network Calathea is hardy and is perfect for beginner gardeners or those who don’t have a lot of time to spend on plant care.
Calathea Makoyana – Peacock Calathea
The peacock Calathea rightfully got its name because of its gorgeously patterned leaves. The leaves are rounded but less slender than its cousin, the rattlesnake Calathea, but with similar markings.
The light green leaves are decorated with dark green oval patterns that make the foliage look like they have their own leaves.
When new leaves grow, they start curled up, showing off their bright purple-red underside, adding a pop of color into your space.
This Calatheas variety requires a lot of attention, including regular warm showers or being placed in a humidity tent overnight.
Calathea Ornata – Pinstripe Calathea
This type of Calathea shows off shiny, colorful striped foliage, similar to, yup, you guessed it, a pinstripe.
The large round leaves are a vibrant green with light pink stripes that look like they’ve been sketched on.
The pinstripe Calathea is easier to care for than the other Calathea mentioned but still requires higher humidity environments.
Calathea Concinna – Calathea Freddie
Freddie is the common name given to the Calathea Concinna. Its elongated, tapered leaves can identify this plant with bold, zebra-looking stripes.
The plant can grow 2-3 feet and each leaf measures between 4-7 inches. If you manage to bloom the Freddie Calathea, the white flowers will protrude out the center of the plant on a long stalk-like inflorescence.
This plant is a little tricky to grow, as the plant is temperamental with water needs. Water regularly, letting the soil dry out about 70%. Trying not to let the earth get completely dry. (If you do, it’s not a train smash, the plant should forgive you once you water it again.)
Calathea Roseopicta – Medallion Calathea
The Calathea Roseopicta medallion is sure to bring life into any home. It can be recognized by its dark green leaves with a light green center and detailed borders.
It almost looks like paint strokes covering the foliage. To accompany the eye-catching leaves is a bright fuschia underside, making itself present when the leaves rise in the mornings due to nyctinasty.
This type of Calathea is easier to care for than others we’ve spoken about, great if you’re a beginner gardener. It has hardy, thick foliage, making it more resilient to lower humidities and temperatures.
The misto Calathea can be identified by its round leaves with wavy textured edges. The foliage consists of dark green leaves, with a light green center line that’ll lighten up any room.
Calathea Ornata – Beauty Star Calathea
The beauty star Calathea variety looks similar to pinstripe Calathea. This is because they are both cultivars of the Ornata species.
However, the beauty star has the same striped markings as well as a lighter green splodge on each leaf.
The foliage grows upright and plentiful, rewarding you with a full bouquet of silvery green colors and a touch of deep purple from the underside of the leaves.
Calathea Roseopicta – Corona Calathea
The Calathea Corona is one of the most popular of all the Calathea genus. This plant takes the crown (which is what corona means) for its striking foliage.
The Calathea leaves are rounded in shape with pointed tips. The leaves are a light green, silvery color with a dark, vibrant green outline. You are able to see the vivid purple underside of the leaves when new foliage grows in a curled manner.
Calathea Roseopicta – Dottie Calathea
The Dottie Calathea variety is quite a bit darker than some of the others. This plant can be identified by its large, dark green foliage, with crimped-like wavy edges.
The leaves are mostly deep green, with pops of light pink outlining the shape of the leaf and running down the center.
It almost looks like someone was drawn than on with a wax crayon. As with corona Calathea, this plant also has a deep purple underside.
Calathea Roseopicta – Rosy Calathea
The last of the Calathea Roseopicta genus is the Rosy variation. This is definitely the most vibrant and colorful out of all the Calathea types.
True to its name, the foliage of this plant is covered in pinks and purples. Some leaves are almost entirely pink, while others are silvery green with heavy streaks of vibrant color. The leaves are outlined with a contrasting deep green border.
This Calathea grows fast, up to 2ft when in ultimate conditions (and, of course, high humidity.) They can be challenging to take care of but will grace you with bursting colors that wow anyone who lays eyes on them.
Calathea Rufibarba – Furry Feather
This Calathea variation is on the more subtle side. While their unique foliage will still draw attention, they aren’t as colorful as other Calatheas, except for their muted maroon underside.
Their foliage looks like a long bird’s feather with a tapered tip and wavy edges, as their name suggests. But what makes this variety so special is the tiny hair-like, velvety underside.
This plant is also bigger than most and can grow just over 3-feet tall.
The Calathea Rufibarba is also less high maintenance than that of the Orbifolia genus. The furry feather is less forgiving when receiving the wrong kinds of minerals and will have fewer issues with the tips of the leaves browning.
Calathea Crocata – Eternal Flame
This exquisite Calathea will be the spotlight in any home. It can be recognized for its fierce and fiery-looking yellow and orange flowers. The majority of the plant is a deep green and purple foliage, with wrinkled, rounded leaves.
The plant got its name due to its magnificent flowers. They grow straight up from the base of the plant in late spring. These flowers will last for about 2-3 months and are encouraged with fertilizer.
Calathea Zebrina – Zebra Calathea
This Calathea is very similar to the Freddie Calathea. It has velvety foliage of light green, egg-shaped leaves, accompanied by dark green stripes, like zebra stripes.
As with most Calatheas, it also has a purple underside that can be seen when the plant raises its leaves to maximize sunlight.
This plant can grow up to 3-feet and produce leaves of up to 15 inches. As it requires high humidity, it will work great in a well-lit bathroom or kitchen.
Calathea Ornata – Sanderiana Calathea
Much like the pinstripe Calathea, this Ornata is easier to care for than other Calatheas. It requires medium to high humidity and regular misting will be acceptable to keep it happy.
You will fall in love with the artistically painted white-pink stripes along with the leaves, complimenting the dark green leaves and purple underside.
Last Comment on Calathea Plant Types
Due to the Calathea plants striking leaves and bold colors, they are in high demand, making Calatheas generally rare plants.
However, they are still loved by beginner and experienced gardeners. Beginners should look at the Ornata variety as they are the easiest to grow but still have beautiful foliage.
With regular misting and other humidity-enhancing tricks, your Calathea (aka prayer plants) will thrive! You won’t be disappointed with your new addition, adding the needed pop of color into your home collection.
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