How to Care for Calathea Lancifolia Rattlesnake Plant

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How to Care for Calathea Rattlesnake, Calathea lancifolia Rattlesnake Care Guide

Rattlesnake plant, also known as Calathea lancifolia, is a member of the 'prayer plant' Marantaceae family. This tropical plant is native to the rainforests of Brazil, where it grows on the forest floor under the shade of larger trees. Its name comes from its unique, long leaves with wavy edges and bold, bright green stripes that resemble the skin of a rattlesnake. The undersides of the leaves are a beautiful maroon-purple color, which adds to the plant's ornamental appeal.

Similar to other Calatheas, the Rattlesnake plant is classified as a "prayer plant," which implies that its leaves can change position in response to light. During daylight hours, the leaves extend outward to soak up sunlight, while at night, they fold up to conserve moisture and safeguard themselves from lower temperatures. Although the Rattlesnake plant is relatively undemanding, it does require some proper care and attention to flourish. Let's discover some essential tips to ensure your plant remains healthy and happy. 


Before getting into general care, it’s important to know how new plants affect your family members. Fortunately, Calathea lancifolia is considered safe for humans and animals. This beauty is also a popular choice for houseplant lovers for its air-purifying properties and non-toxic nature. All Calatheas are pet-friendly and have been shown to help improve indoor air quality by removing harmful pollutants and toxins from the air.

General Care


Calathea lancifolia prefers bright, indirect light. It can tolerate some direct sunlight, but too harsh lighting can scorch its leaves. On the other hand, in low light conditions, the leaves may curl or become pale and lose their vibrant colors. It is not the easiest task to find the balanced, correct lighting for Calatheas, but we recommend that you place this plant near a window with filtered sunlight or in a location that receives bright, indirect light for most of the day. During the dark winter months, consider using a grow lamp to provide this beauty with enough lighting. 

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Avoid direct sunlight to protect Rattlesnake from sunburning


Proper watering is crucial for the health and well-being of a Rattlesnake. As a tropical plant, it prefers consistently moist soil but can be sensitive to overwatering. You should always check the soil moisture before watering. When the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to give your Calathea a drink. During the growing season in spring and summer, the plant requires more water, while watering should be reduced during the dormant phase in colder months. For optimal plant health, use room-temperature distilled or rainwater and make sure to drain any excess water from the pot.

Soil and Fertilizer

Rattlesnake plant needs well-draining soils that can retain some moisture. However, rich, heavy soils that lock in water should be avoided. Choose a high-quality houseplant soil for Calatheas, or mix your own soil by adding perlite, peat moss, and orchid bark to general potting soil. Consider adding organic matter, such as compost or coconut coir, to improve the soil's texture and moisture retention, as well as increase the acid level of the soil, as Calatheas prefers slightly acidic soil. Avoid using soil straight from the garden, as it can contain pests, diseases, or weed seeds that can harm your plant.

Fertilizing is important for Calatheas during their growing season. Once a month, give your Rattlesnake plant some diluted fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to salt buildup in the soil and damage the plant's roots and stop fertilizing during the dormant phase in winter. 

Temperature and Humidity

As a Calathea, Rattlesnake plant is very sensitive to changes in its growing environment. It needs a steady temperature between 65°F. -75°F. In winter, this plant can tolerate a slightly cooler temperature of around 60°F. Keep this plant out of heating sources, direct harsh sunlight, and cold drafts. Exposure to low temperatures, poor air ventilation, and abrupt temperature changes can all have negative effects on the plant's health, most probably showing in yellowing, wilting leaves. 

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Ensure the room temperature does not fall below 60°F.

This tropical beauty grows best in a humid environment, with a humidity level between 40-50%. Dry air can cause the leaves to curl and turn brown. To maintain the appropriate humidity level, you can mist the plant regularly, place a humidifier nearby, or set the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water.

Extra Care

Potting and Repotting

To maintain the health of your Rattlesnake plant, it is essential to ensure proper drainage in the pot and soil to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom of the container, leading to root rot and other issues. This can be achieved by selecting a pot with drainage holes made from a porous material like concrete, terracotta, or ceramic, and using only well-draining soil.

It is important to repot Rattlesnake plants every 1-2 years or whenever your plant has a serious problem like root rot, pest, or disease and new soil is required. Repotting during the growing season is ideal, as it allows the plant to recover from transplant shock quickly. When repotting, choose a container that is one size larger than the current one. A pot that is too large can cause moisture to accumulate in the soil for extended periods, which can lead to overwatering problems. 


Regular pruning is not required for Calatheas since they are evergreen plants. However, it's recommended to remove any dead or damaged leaves using a sharp, clean pair of scissors or a gardening knife. This helps prevent the plant from expending energy on unhealthy leaves and encourages new growth to occur. 


Rattlesnake plant can be propagated easily by divisions. Follow these simple steps:

  • Propagation should only be done during the growing season (spring-summer)
  • Gently remove your Rattlesnake plant from its pot and carefully separate the roots into smaller sections.
  • Each section should have at least one healthy stem and root system.
  • Plant each section in separate pots with fresh soil and place them in a bright, airy spot away from direct sunlight. Water regularly to keep the soil slightly moist. 
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It's quite easy to propagate Calathea lancifolia Rattlesnake.

Common Problems

  • Rattlesnake is a very sensitive plant, and it reacts to the smallest change in the environment. If you notice your plant having yellowing or browning leaves, check if it is suffering from excessive sunlight, low temperatures, or insufficient humidity in the room.
  • If the leaves become darkened and mushy, check for signs of root rot and overwatering.
  • If the leaves curl and have crispy edges, or there are brown spots on the leaves, your Rattlesnake may need more water and a higher humidity level. 
  • Limp stems may indicate that your plant is being exposed to cold drafts or is overwatered. 
  • Stunt growth usually is the result of insufficient lighting or depleted soil. 
Rattlesnake isn’t prone to pests and diseases, but it doesn’t mean that this plant cannot be affected by aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, or fungal diseases. A warm, humid environment can become a breeding ground for pests and fungi. Inspect your plants regularly to catch early signs of problems and take action right away to prevent further damage. 

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