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Rattlesnake Plant | How to Grow the Calathea Lancifolia

“Love of gardening is a seed, which once sown in mind, never dies.” Gardening is a beautiful and enriching task, especially if taken as a challenge. A task or hobby that requires a lot of love and care, especially when growing special or exotic plants.

One such plant is the Rattlesnake Plant, a beautiful species native to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and well known among gardeners across the US. So let's get to know the plant in-depth and more about how to grow it.


Rattlesnake Plant How to Grow the Calathea Lancifolia

All About the Rattlesnake Plant

Rattlesnake Plant is a native to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and well known among gardeners across the US

While this is the common name, the plant also has other names, including Goeppertia insignis, which is its binomial name. It comes from the Marantaceae family and is known as Calathea insignis, Calathea lancifolia, Goeppertia lancifolia, and Maranta insignis.

Calathea lancifolia are houseplants, and these can be very tricky when it comes to rattlesnake plant care. But once you give them the caring they need, they will definitely grow into delightful beauties with dense foliage.

Native to Rio, Brazil, these are tropical plants that can generally be seen in shady areas in Southern parts of the US.

Calathea Lancifolia Climate conditions

Being a tropical plant, these require a lot of heat and humidity, but don't enjoy intense or direct sunlight. Rattlesnake plants respond best to temperatures near 60 to 75°F. 

While sudden temperature changes are harmful, exposure to prolonged durations of low temperatures can also cause the plants to wilt away and die.

Physical Features 

These plants are beautiful for indoor greenery and generally grow up to around 60 to 70 cm in height. Calathea lancifolia has long, upright leaves with wavy edges.

The leaves are variegated with patterned blotches or strokes of dark green over a lighter greenish background. The leaves are smooth and velvety to touch, with burgundy undersides.

Growing Calathea Lancifolia

Calathea Lancifolia Varieties

Calathea lancifolia has over 300 varieties, making it highly popular as a houseplant. But there are a few majorly popular varieties, as follows.

  • Calathea Orbifolia
  • Calathea Warscewiczii
  • Calathea Makoyana
  • Calathea Crocata
  • Calathea Ornata

Regardless of a few differences, all these and other Calathea varieties have beautiful, ornate leaves, which result in elegant foliage. All types require a good level of care, maintenance, and safety from intense or direct sunlight. Many varieties have flowers, while many have exquisite patterns on the leaves.

How to Grow Rattlesnake Plant

The most common methods to grow plants include growing them from seeds. The same may be true of Calathea Lancifolia and other Calathea varieties, but seeds aren’t easy to find.

However, if you do get your hands on Calathea seeds, here’s how you can best grow them.

How to Grow Rattlesnake Plant

Growing Calathea Lancifolia from Seeds

  • Seeds can be best grown in small plants or propagation trays.
  • You can use a seed starter soil mix or a one-to-one ratio mix of peat and coarse sand.
  • You can begin by moistening the soil and adding the seeds at a depth of around 0.5 to 1 cm.
  • Cover the pot or tray with cover or plastic to trap humidity and warmth.
  • Place the plant in indirect, bright light.
  • Once the seeds grow into seedlings at the height of 3 to 4 cm, they can then be very carefully transferred to pots.

Soil and Water Conditions

Calathea lancifolia must be kept in soil that can drain well, as they lack the ability to withstand still water. The best kinds of soil can either be a light sandy soil or a mix of peat moss and perlite, with a two to one ratio.

The best fertilizer options include one dose per month, using a balanced fertilizer with adequate nitrogen. This is because these show likeness to light acidic or neutral pH but don’t take well to alkaline soil.

These plants like to be kept moist and require frequent and routine watering. In case of lack of water, you can notice the leaves curling, while waterlogging can cause them to turn yellow.

Rattlesnake Plant Propagation

Rattlesnake Plant Propagation

The division is the easiest way to propagate Calathea lancifolia. In order to avoid disturbing the roots, it is best done during repotting. You can divide the plant into individual pots, cover them with plastic, and let it grow.

Calathea lancifolia will always tell you when it is big enough for repotting. The tell-tale signs are huge growth and natural divisions in the root ball, mainly in the spring season.

This is also why it is suggested that repotting and propagation activities should be done in spring. A good potting mix is essential to healthy growth. It is best suggested to add sandy soil to ensure adequate drainage.

Common Calathea Insignis Pests and Diseases

Division is the easiest way to propagate Calathea lancifolia

Spider Mites

One of the most common pests for calathea is spider mite. These can be a significant danger for any of your houseplant. However, they seem to like such lush tropicals.

The most preferred treatment for this is neem oil. One may also prefer the scent of Mite-X indoors since it smells mostly of cloves.


Mealybugs and various other scale insects can also appear on your calathea. Yet again, neem oil can be effective against such pests, but you might want to consider an alternative like Safer Soap.


Finally, if the plants are outdoors, you’ll realize that slugs can devour leaves, creating massive holes and missing sections. A bait like Garden Safe Slug & Snail will distract them from the yields and kill them off.

Pseudomonas Bacteria

Pseudomonas bacteria can lead to two different problems: pseudomonas blight and pseudomonas leaf spot. With pseudomonas leaf spots, water-soaked spots can form on the plant’s leaves.

These are usually dark green to black and rarely more than a couple on any leaf. Here, a copper-based fungicide like Monterey Liquid Copper Fungicide may help clear these up.

On the other hand, pseudomonas blight is much more complex to understand. Water-soaked areas can appear along leaf veins and post-that spread rapidly throughout the leaves.

While this blight matures, all the affected areas can turn brown and papery or yellow. To prevent the spread to other plants around, remove and destroy infected plants. Moreover, this bacteria might still remain in the soil, so dispose of the affected soil.

If you love Calatheas so much then here are more varieties you can grow: 

Wrapping Up Our Rattlesnake Plant Guide

All in all, despite being a challenging plant, the Calathea Lancifolia is a beautiful plant that can reward your house with vibrant, bright green foliage.

All it needs is some specific amount of care, which, anyway, is a delight for every gardener. But if you follow all the guidelines given above, you can be sure that your Calathea Lancifolia plant will turn out to be as happy as it can be!

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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