Rattlesnake Plant Care: Learning To Grow Calathea Lancifolia

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The Rattlesnake Plant Calathea Lancifolia is also known as Calathea or Goeppertia insignis. This beautiful plant has a striking appearance.

The rattlesnake stands out when placed among a variety of other houseplants or as a standalone beautiful accent plant.

Potted Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia) Gaylord Palms Hotel Orlando, FloridaPin
Excellent Rattlesnake Plant Care is given this magnificent specimen at Gaylord Palms Hotel, Orlando Florida

The wavy leaves are lance-shaped with dark decorative spots (alternating dark green ovals) on top and a deep rich purple underside.

Rattlesnake Plants are native to the rainforests of Brazil and belong to the (prayer plant) Marantaceae family.

Before adding this potted tropical plant to your collection, here are a few care details.

Calathea Lancifolia Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Calathea Lancifolia
  • Common Name(s): Rattlesnake Plant, Rattlesnake Calathea
  • Synonyms: Goeppertia Lancifolia
  • Pronunciation: ka-LAY-thee-uh lan-sih-FOH-lee-uh
  • Family & Origin: Marantaceae family, native to rainforests of Brazil
  • Growability: Moderate
  • Grow Zone: 11-12
  • Size: Can grow up to 1-3 feet tall and wide
  • Flowering: Rarely flowers indoors
  • Light: Bright, indirect light or partial shade
  • Humidity: High humidity, mist regularly or use a humidifier
  • Temperature: Keep in temperatures between 65°-75° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Well-draining, peat-based soil
  • Water: Keep soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once per month with a ½ strength diluted solution throughout the growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites and fungal diseases
  • Propagation: Divide plant during repotting or take stem cuttings in spring or summer
  • Plant Uses: Great for adding color and texture to indoor spaces, air-purifying properties

Calathea Rattlesnake Plant Care Instructions

Caring for the Rattlesnake is not difficult.

  • Provide the Rattlesnake plant with bright indirect light and plenty of high humidity.
  • Maintain room temperatures between 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep soil moist.
  • Fertilize once per month during the growing season, April to August.
  • Stop fertilizing and reduce watering during winter.
  • Spider mites can be a problem.

Size and Growth

The attractive Calathea plants are recommended for USDA hardiness zones 11 to 12, making them unsuitable for outdoor growth in most parts of the United States.

The only areas where the rattlesnake Calathea species will thrive outdoors include the southern tips of Florida and California.

In most cases, people grow this Calathea plant indoors as a house plant.

When grown indoors, it may reach a height of about one and a half feet, while it can reach almost twice that height outdoors.

The foliage is the most exciting characteristic of the Rattlesnake plant. It produces wavy leaf blades reaching about 18″ inches in length.

The green leaves have a pale color with dark green oval shapes. You may also notice purplish or maroon-colored undersides to the leaves.

They are beautifully marked with various shades of green, wavy edges that magnify those shades, and green spots that resemble small leaves. The perfect houseplant for pattern lovers because of its bold patterned foliage with deep purple undersides.  

The leaves and stems of your rattlesnake plant will let you know if there’s a problem. Most of the time, it’s due to a watering issue. 

Flowering and Fragrance

This plant rarely blooms when grown indoors. It also doesn’t grow quite as tall. However, it’s still an attractive, exotic plant and makes a great addition to any room.

If you live in a suitable area for growing outdoors, you may notice yellow flowers blooming in the late spring or early summer. They appear on 2″ to 4″ inch conical spikes.

Light and Temperature

Grow the rattle snake plant in an area (like a patio) with partial shade with bright indirect sunlight in the afternoon. Bright direct sunlight will burn the leaves, causing them to wither and the plant to die.

When grown indoors, ensure the potted plant receives bright indirect sunlight throughout the day. Consider adding grow lights to provide supplemental lighting.

If it gets too much direct sunlight, green spots may appear on the leaves; too little light and the vibrant spotted markings may begin to fade. 

The rattlesnake does not like cold weather. It grows best in temperatures ranging between 65°-75° degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of humidity.

NOTE: Avoid sudden temperature changes and exposure to cold drafts.

TIP: If your house tends to get dry, mist the plant with rainwater or distiller water every day, especially during the winter. Add a humidifier or place the plant on a tray of pebbles with water.

Close up Lancifolia Rattlesnake plant leavesPin

Watering and Feeding

Rattlesnake Calathea should be watered regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. In most cases, you’ll need to water every few days. 

However, you should avoid keeping the soil saturated with water or adding enough water to form lasting puddles.

Fertilize once per month with a ½ strength diluted solution throughout the growing season, which typically lasts between April and August. Stop using fertilizer and water less frequently during winter.

NOTE: Calatheas do not like fluoride, chlorine, or bromine found in tap water. They show their displeasure with brown leaf tips. City water is a NO-NO. Use reclaimed water, well water, or distilled water.

Soil and Transplanting

When potting rattlesnake plants, use a grow pot with drainage holes and well-drained soil and keep the potting mix moist. Adding peat moss will help keep the soil moist without slowing the drainage.

A light sandy soil or a potting mix of two parts peat moss and one part perlite works well. Rattlesnake plant prefers slightly acidic or neutral pH levels, but alkaline soils should be avoided. 

Repot the plant each year with new soil will keep the rattlesnake plant growing actively. In the early spring, remove the plant and replace the soil.

Be careful to avoid damaging the root structure.

A simple soil mix for calatheas is:

  • 2 parts Peat Moss
  • 1 part Perlite

TIP: Repotting is also the best time to consider propagating the plant.

Grooming and Maintenance

Remove old leaves; otherwise, pruning is not necessary. The plant doesn’t flower indoors, the leaves don’t fall off unless they do not get enough moisture, and it doesn’t grow very tall.

Other Calatheas To Collect

How To Propagate Rattle Snake Plant (Calathea Lancifolia)

The easiest method to rattlesnake plant propagation is by division. If possible, divide when repotting the plant.

Place the divisions in individual pots in a shaded area, and cover them with plastic bags. 

After you start to see new growth, remove the plastic bag and care for the plant following the Calathea lancifolia care recommendation.

What Pests or Diseases Do Rattlesnake Plants Encounter?

While the rattlesnake prayer plant doesn’t have any severe disease or insect problems, keep an eye on the plant for the usual pests.

Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites may find the thick leaves attractive. Spider mites can be a problem during the winter months in dry indoor locations.

If you spot any pests, wash the foliage with soapy water or use an insecticide like Neem oil or insecticidal soap.

However, here’s what you’ll want to look for, particularly when welcoming a new plant into your home: 


If you have recently purchased a new specimen or have summered your houseplants out of doors, keep a lookout for these pests.

Besides pests and diseases, pay attention to signs of drought. If the leaves start to roll up or turn brown, the plant may not be getting the humidity it needs.

If you notice that the leaves are dying due to low humidity, try misting the leaves early in the morning each day and again in the early afternoon.

Suggested Uses For Rattlesnake Plants

The rattlesnake plant is grown primarily for its interesting, attractive foliage. As mentioned, it’s not suited for outdoor growth in cold or dry regions, as it’s native to the rainforests of Brazil.

While you may not grow it outdoors in your region, it’s an attractive houseplant. Place it in a large pot in a highly-visible area as a floor plant where you can show off the interesting patterns on the leaves.

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