Calathea Orbifolia: A Guide to Growing the Round-Leaf Plant

Introduction to Calathea Orbifolia

The Calathea Orbifolia is a striking houseplant known for its large, round leaves with bold green striping. It’s a member of the Marantaceae family, commonly referred to as prayer plants because their leaves fold together at dusk, resembling hands in prayer. This tropical plant not only elevates the aesthetics of indoor spaces but also acts as a natural air purifier, making it a favorite among both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts. Despite its exotic looks, the Calathea Orbifolia can thrive indoors with the right care and conditions.

Optimal Growing Conditions

Light Requirements

Calathea Orbifolia thrives in bright, indirect light that mimics its natural habitat under the canopy of tropical rainforests. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as this can bleach the leaves and reduce the plant’s vibrancy. North or east-facing windows are ideal locations for this plant, where the soft morning light can be utilized without the scorching intensity of the afternoon sun.

Temperature and Humidity

Being a tropical plant, Calathea Orbifolia prefers a warm and humid environment. The ideal temperature range is between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C). It’s important to protect the plant from sudden temperature drops and cold drafts, which can stress it. In terms of humidity, this Calathea enjoys levels above 50%. In drier climates, regularly misting the leaves, placing a humidifier nearby, or keeping the plant in a well-lit bathroom can help meet its humidity requirements.

Soil and Potting Mix

The soil for Calathea Orbifolia should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. A peat-based potting mix with perlite or vermiculite works well to retain moisture while allowing excess water to drain, preventing root rot. A pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is generally recommended for this plant. It’s also beneficial to repot the Calathea every couple of years to refresh the soil and provide extra room for root growth.

Plant Care


Watering is a crucial aspect of caring for a Calathea Orbifolia. The plant likes consistently moist soil but cannot tolerate standing water. The top inch of soil should dry out slightly between waterings. It’s recommended to water with room-temperature distilled water or rainwater to avoid the build-up of minerals, which can lead to leaf burn.


During the growing seasons of spring and summer, it’s beneficial to fertilize the Calathea Orbifolia monthly with a diluted, balanced houseplant fertilizer. However, over-fertilizing can harm the delicate roots, so it’s important to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package. Withhold fertilizing in the fall and winter when the plant’s growth naturally slows.

Pruning and Maintenance

Calathea Orbifolia has a relatively slow growth rate, which means it seldom requires pruning. To maintain a tidy appearance and promote healthy growth, remove any yellow or damaged leaves by cutting them off at the base with clean scissors. Regularly dusting the leaves can also prevent pest infestations and allow for efficient photosynthesis.

Common Challenges

The most common challenges when growing Calathea Orbifolia include overwatering, which can lead to root rot, and low humidity, which can result in brown leaf tips. Pests such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are attracted to stressed plants, so keeping your Calathea healthy is the best pest deterrent. In case of an infestation, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.


With its stunning foliage and air-purifying qualities, the Calathea Orbifolia is a worthy addition to any indoor garden. By mimicking the conditions of its rainforest home—ample humidity, moderate temperature, indirect light, and consistent watering—a grower can encourage the lush, vibrant growth of this exquisite round-leaf plant. Regular upkeep and attention will ensure the Calathea Orbifolia remains a healthy and striking centerpiece in your collection.

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