19 Types of calathea | Varieties of prayer plant

Calatheas are a common addition in home gardens, and with so many types of calathea, it’s important to have a clear picture of all the differences between them before choosing.

The needs of a calathea are also different from many other plants, and it’s important to check whether you’ll be able to fulfill those requirements before you start planting them in your home.

Read on to learn all about different calathea varieties and care requirements!

Calathea Varieties

There are about 60 living types of calathea, and we’ve picked out 20 of the most common varieties to analyze. In the following section, we’ll learn about the differences and similarities between these varieties.

Keep in mind that most Calatheas have the same requirements regarding soil, watering, fertilization, and light. We will cover that in detail towards the end of the article. If any variety deviates from these requirements, I’ll point it out in the text.

A good thing about Calatheas is that they’re not toxic – this makes them appealing to pet owners, as you can rest assured that your dog won’t have to visit the vet after nibbling on a leaf.

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Calathea Crocata

  • Potential growth height: up to 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: glasshouse whitefly and red spider mites

This variety of calathea is rich in foliage and flowers, which are orange, earning this flower the name of ‘eternal flame’. They’re originally from South and Central America, which means that they need a heated habitat to survive.

They also need a lot of water, especially during the summer, and they prefer high humidity percentages because of their natural rainforest habitat.

If cared for properly, these Calatheas can grow up to 60 centimeters in height (about two feet).

On top of having wildly bright orange flowers, they also have decoratively ridged leaves. The leaves can be as long as 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) and they’re usually dark green in color.

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Calathea Dottie

  • Potential growth height: up to 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

This is essentially a darker variation of the classic calathea. The leaves are somewhat darker green, while the bottom side of the leaf is a shade of dark, pale purple.

Every leaf has a purple ring on top of the dark green color, creating an interesting pattern. Depending on shading, the color can also be pink, not only purple. With different subvarieties of each plant, you could also find a Calathea Dottie with almost completely black leaves. The plant itself is very young, as it was only registered in 2000, and it was bred by an amateur from the US!

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Calathea Flamestar

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: spider mites

Another calathea with a unique pattern, the flame star is a brightly-colored calathea. It has a dark green base for the leaves and a brighter shade of green creating a stripe pattern starting from the middle of the leaf.

This plant looks like something that came out of a jungle, and it likes humidity more than other plants, which is why you’ll have to mist it more often. It also doesn’t like direct light for longer periods, so make sure it’s filtered.

Because of its hardiness, this plant can live both indoors and outdoors, as long as the temperatures don’t drop below 16°C.

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Calathea ‘Fusion White’

  • Potential growth height: up to 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot, especially sensitive to fluoride

Sometimes called ‘white fusion’, this plant showcases an interesting combination of green and white on top of the leaves, with a pale purple tone on the bottom side of the leaves. The white and green combination on top grows in zebra-like stripes.

Something to keep in mind when caring for this plant is water–fusion white is sensitive to fluoride, which is why watering it with distilled water might be smarter than watering it with tap water.

When it comes to placement, because of its white shades, this plant provides a striking contrast to dark plants.

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Credit: perfectplants

Calathea ‘Freddie’

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

This calathea is similar to the ‘fusion white’ variation, but with a more subtle note of white (to be precise, it’s a very light note of green). Additionally, it appears like white is actually the base color layer of the leaves, and the regular green is the color creating the striped pattern.

They’re rhythmical plants – opening up at dawn to drink up the sun and closing up in the evening. The plant doesn’t completely close or open the leaves, but it does move them significantly.

The leaves often grow in a slight clockwise or a counter-clockwise rotation, making it look like they’re moving.

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Credit: hortology

Calathea Lancifolia

  • Potential growth height: up to 18 inches, possibly 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: spider mites and whiteflies

Also dubbed ‘the rattlesnake plant’, the leaf shape of this variety is much different in comparison to other varieties. The green leaves have a light green-dark green combination of marks, while they’re elongated, ridged, and wavy – hence the name. The leaves are light purple on the bottom side.

They’re native to Rio de Janeiro, and they’re capable of growing up to 30 inches, while the leaves can grow to 18 inches. They’re generally low maintenance and can grow both outdoors and indoors (depending on the climate).

However, since they’re so large, it’s important that they have enough room to spread their leaves.

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Calathea Leopardina

  • Potential growth height: up to 12 inches
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

The Leopardina looks like a softer version of calathea Freddie – it also displays a light green-dark green zebra-like pattern on the leaves, while the leaves are noticeably smaller than those of a rattlesnake plant.

It is sometimes called the elegant calathea because of its simplistic and beautiful look. The stalks are narrowly huddled together and the foliage isn’t too dense, making it look minimalistic.

They usually don’t grow past 12 inches in height and 8 inches in width, while the flowers aren’t that noticeable – they’re small and yellow, usually only drawing attention away from the green foliage.

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Calathea Makoyana

  • Potential growth height: up to 50 centimeters (about 20 inches)
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Also known as the peacock plant, the Makoyana is a short plant, rarely growing past 50 centimeters, while it develops large, round leaves. This plant is also called the ‘cathedral window’ plant because of it painted glass pattern, which also resembles peacock feathers.

The pattern on the leaves are white and green, with the dark green painting a branch on the leaves.

It’s important to keep this plant in partly shaded areas as they don’t tolerate light well and they’re susceptible to leaf scorch, which means that the leaves lost all the water. This loss of water is catalyzed by strong, direct sunlight.

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Credit: gardens4you

Calathea Maui Queen

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet with very long leaves
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: they do much better in greenhouses than outdoors

The Maui Queen is a variety with 20-centimeter-long leaves of a dark green base color. They have a light green streak protruding through the middle of the leaves, reminiscent of small arrow tails. The leaves are ridged in some variations of the plant.

These plants can grow to almost a meter in height (about three feet), while they’re rarely wider than half a meter (20 inches). They like partial shade and they do much better in greenhouses and enclosures than in open areas, so they’re more suitable as indoor plants.

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Calathea Medallion

  • Potential growth height: up to 36 inches
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Originally endemic to Ecuador, this is another one of those types of calathea that has a light green-dark green pattern on the top of the leaves. The bottom of the leaves is a nightly shade of purple, and the leaves are often unevenly ridged. They’re also known to curl up as they grow.

The leaves curl up to conserve water or to protect themselves from the brightness.

This variety will take damage from direct light and it does best with moderate filtered lighting, so make sure that it’s not placed directly in front of a window or on a patio.

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Credit: squiresgardencentres

Calathea ‘Misto’

  • Potential growth height: up to 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: works best alone because it’s very wide

As you could have guessed from its name, this calathea variety can develop a misty pattern on the leaves. The leaves are dark green with a light green streak through the middle. However, sometimes the light green streak starts growing out into the sides, causing a misty pattern.

This plant needs plenty of space to grow – not only can it reach 80 centimeters (about two feet) in height, but it can grow just as wide. Huddling it between other plants could slow down its growth.

This is one of the largest calathea varieties and it also enjoys partial shade.

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Calathea Musaica

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot and spider mites

Although this plant won’t necessarily grow to those sizes, it has the capacity of growing to a meter in height and the same in width (about three feet), which means that you’ll need a lot of space to grow it.

It has a very interesting leaf pattern – the basal color is dark green, and light green spots spread around like dominoes. This makes it look like there’s a network of spots on the leaves (similar to green letters appearing on a black screen).

This plant is a great choice for beginners, as it’s very low maintenance, but it can take upwards of five years for it to achieve its full size.

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Calathea Orbifolia

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Calathea Orbifolia is also known under the name of ‘broad stripes’ calathea, as its very broad and round leaves develop stripes. The base color is dark green, and the broad stripes are light green.

These plants will often roll up their leaves, be it to protect themselves from sunlight or to retain water. The most impressive aspect of this plant is the sheer size of its leaves, as they can be longer than a foot!

The plant has the capacity to grow up to a meter in height (three feet), but there are shorter varieties. Because of the size of the leaves, this calathea can grow more than two feet in width.

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Calathea Ornata ‘Sanderiana’

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites

With purple on the bottom side of the leaf and green on the top, this plant grows its leaves quite chaotically, unlike some other Calatheas with a strict order.

On the top of the green base, the Sanderiana develops narrow white stripes that paint from the middle line to the outer side of each leaf. They make a zebra-like pattern on the leaves. The lines can also be a light shade of pink, not only white.

Calathea Ornata can grow up to 3 feet in height, and their flowers are white, although they only appear every so often, usually during the summer.

Calathea Roseopicta

Calathea Roseopicta

  • Potential growth height: up to 20 inches
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Growing up to 50 centimeters (about 20 inches) in height, these plants have large and rounded leaves, with a pattern very similar to the Makoyana. Literally meaning the ‘rose-painted’ calathea, the underside of these leaves is red (although it does come in purple sometimes), hence the name.

The topside of the leaves develops a dark green base with light green slashes across it. When seen from above, the plant gives off the illusion of movement. Interestingly, Calathea Roseopicta was awarded the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Calathea Roseopicta
Credit: gardenersdream

Calathea Rosy

  • Potential growth height: up to 2 feet
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Rosy Calathes is a great choice if you like pink! These plants are small in comparison to other Calathes, so they can fit more or less anywhere. The base of the leaves is dark green and the middle of the leaf is streaked through with a very bright shade of pink.

This vibrant combination draws attention to the plant, while the asymmetrical flowers are usually small and they’re either pink or white (more often pink). Because of its undeniable beauty, calathea rosy is one of the most sought-after types of calathea.

Calathea Roseopicta
Credit: gardenersdream

Calathea Rufibarba

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet with very long leaves
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

Also known under the alias of ‘furry feather’ calathea, this Brazilian plant has a unique look at calathea. The leaves are very long, up to 25 centimeters (10 inches), and very thin. The leaves start growing very low on the stems when the plant is just planted, and it almost looks like they’re growing right out of the soil.

On the top of their leaves, a distinct pattern of light green diagonally striking across the dark green is visible. The combination of this pattern with the fuzzy leaves makes this calathea a very popular choice.

They can grow up to three feet in height, but they’re more likely to spread in width, which is why they perform better when they’re given enough space.

Calathea Roseopicta
Credit: duchyofcornwallnursery

Calathea Warscewiczii

  • Potential growth height: up to 40 inches
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

This name is still used out of tradition, but it was renamed Calathea Warszewiczii as the name draws its roots from Polish and it’s more accurate this way.

The Warszewiczii calathea is on the larger side, as they can grow up to 40 inches in height and in width, while the leaves are wide and long. This means that you’re going to need plenty of space to grow one.

The underside of the leaves is dark purple, while the topside is dark green with a light green line through the middle and inflorescences spreading and fading.

Calathea Roseopicta

Calathea Zebrina

  • Potential growth height: up to 3 feet with long leaves
  • Watering: several times a week
  • Light: indirect sunlight to avoid burns
  • Best temperature: above 15°C
  • Soil: well-draining, airy soil
  • Toxicity: none
  • Common problems and pests: root rot

The final entry to the list is also called the zebra plant, and the reason is quite obvious. The leaves of this plant are oval and long with a dark green base color and very light green veins and margins.

Because of that pattern, the leaves look like green zebra stripes. The plant can grow up to three feet, while the leaves can exceed 18 inches in length, making them some of the longest leaves among all Calatheas.

This plant isn’t difficult to care for and it’s usually kept indoors.

Calathea Care Guide

The most important aspects of care are positioning, watering, type of soil, flower care, fertilization, pruning, and repotting. We’ll be thoroughly explaining all of that in the following section.

Position

Calatheas like some sunlight, but in moderate amounts and never directly. This is why they should never be placed right in front of a window or on a patio with direct sunlight. They will dry up very quickly.

Since their natural habitat is usually heavily forested, they only get indirect sunlight and very little direct sunlight breaking through the tree line.

Watering

All Calatheas like to be watered regularly – the soil should be moist all the time and the top layer of soil should never dry. On the other hand, they don’t like to sit in wet soil. This can lead to root rot in all species, not just Calatheas.

Some Calatheas are more sensitive than others (I already explained that white fusion is especially sensitive to fluoride), but Calatheas are generally more sensitive toward water than other plants.

Fluoride and chlorine can intoxicate your plant, which is why it’s best to use distilled water or filtered water. If your calathea reacts badly to the tap water in your home, it will definitely show on the plant.

Soil

Calathea soil needs to be good at draining water, as they don’t like soggy soil, but it also needs to stay moist. The best choice for this is airy soil, which will drain water slowly. As long as you don’t overwater it, this type of soil will keep any type of calathea happy.

Flowers

Calathea flowers usually bloom in the summer. There are types of calathea bred to have very small flowers. Since Calatheas are usually sought-after because of the beauty of their leaves, flowers only infringe on that impression.

After a flower has finished with its peak of blooming and it’s started to wilt, feel free to just cut it off and throw it away.

Fertilizing

Calatheas are very hungry plants! They like to be fertilized at least once a month with liquid fertilizer for houseplants. When buying fertilizer, you’ll likely find a list of plants for which it is applicable – only choose fertilizers that have Calatheas on that list.

You should fertilize throughout the entire year except for winter. Plants are naturally dormant during the winter and they’re not going to grow – adding fertilizer would only be a waste of fertilizer, not to mention that you could overfertilize and harm your plant.

Pruning

You’ll be glad to learn that Calatheas don’t need pruning – this is just one of many things that makes them good starter plants for amateurs. Calatheas naturally throw away leaves (essentially killing them), and you’ll need to pick and throw dead leaves away. Aside from that, no pruning is necessary.

Repotting

It can take up to 10 years for a calathea to reach its full size. This depends on the exact variety – larger varieties take longer to fully grow. Because of this intense growth, you’re going to have to replant your calathea every two to three years.

Don’t plant more than a single calathea per pot as their roots can get entangled. Also, some Calatheas are so wide that their leaves and stems can get entangled too.

Repot in the spring, never during the winter. To repot successfully, gently take out the plant from the smaller pot and transfer it to the larger pot. Cover the empty space with new soil and water it thoroughly.

How to Propagate Calathea

Calathea propagates by division, and it’s best to propagate it during repotting. Simply split the calathea in the middle (there’s a natural division line in the middle of the stems). Separate the two plants into two different pots and water the soil thoroughly.

Since this is a bit of a shock for both plants, it could take more than a month before they start growing again. During that time, keep them in a shady area.

Common Problems with Calathea

The two most common problems with Calatheas are root rot and pests, both of which can be solved if you react on time.

Pests

Spider mites and aphids are the most common pests you can find around your Calatheas. These insects are generally some of the most common plant pests. Calatheas aren’t prone to developing pests, and they can easily be killed with pesticides.

Root Rot

Root rot is caused by overwatering – as I said before, Calatheas don’t like to sit in soggy water. To avoid this, only water your plant when you see that the top layer is getting dry.

It’s easily recognizable by wilting, yellow leaves. If you check the roots, you’ll see that they’re mushy to the touch.

To treat root rot, you’ll have to clean the roots of all the soil and cut the infected parts of the roots with scissors. You will also have to cut off the wilting leaves.

Throw away the old soil, repot the plant in new, clean soil, and hope for the best. Remember that the best way to prevent root rot is to keep track of watering.

Final Thoughts on Calathea Varieties

It’d be ill-advised to single out any variety as the best one as they’re all beautiful in their own way. I suggest that you choose the one you like the most and can care for the most effective for your first Calathea.

When it comes to caring, Calatheas are relatively low maintenance provided you hit the sweet spot when it comes to soil conditions, humidity, and watering requirements, which is why they’re great for beginners. Make sure not to overwater or give them too much direct sunlight and these plants will thrive in your home.

Calathea Varieties FAQ