Goeppertia insignis (Rattlesnake Calathea) Indoor Care, Propagation and Growing Problems


Rattlesnake Calathea (Calathea lancifolia) also called Calathea Rattlesnake or Rattlesnake Plant is a perennial plant which bears slender pale-green leaves which are heavily marked above with dark blotches and have purple undersides.

Calathea lancifolia which also goes by the botanical names Goeppertia lancifolia and Goeppertia insignis is a member of the Marantaceae family (Prayer Plants).

Rattlesnake Calathea, Rattlesnake Plant, Calathea lancifolia

Botanical name: Calathea lancifolia
Synonym: Goeppertia insignis
Family: Marantaceae
Common name: Rattlesnake Calathea, Calathea Rattlesnake, Rattlesnake Plant

Origin

Goeppertia insignis is native to the tropical forests in Brazil in the state of Rio de Janeiro where it grows on the forest floors.

Size

Rattlesnake Calathea grows in clumps to a height of about 2-3 ft. The leaves are about 1-2 ft long.

Is Rattlesnake Calathea toxic?

Calathea lancifolia like other Calathea Plants is non-toxic to both humans and pets according to ASPCA. It is safe to grow indoors.

Related Plants

Rattlesnake Calathea is closely related to the Marantas, Ctenanthe and Stromanthe which are collectively called Prayer Plants in reference to their curious characteristic of closing their leaves at night.

Goeppertia insignis is one of the most popular houseplants to grow in the home on account of its ease of care and interesting foliage.

Where to buy

If you would like to add this beautiful Calathea lancifolia to your plant collection, you may obtain them online.

Calathea lancifolia Care Indoors

Goeppertia insignis (Rattlesnake Calathea) prospers in bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Calathea lancifolia requires pruning to keep it neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations. Repotting is needed only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Keep reading for more on the best growing conditions and how to provide them.

Rattlesnake Calathea, Rattlesnake Plant, Calathea lancifolia

Watering

Water Rattlesnake Calathea thoroughly during the growing season until the water comes out through the drainage holes and keep the soil moderately moist.

Lessen watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not let the soil dry out completely.

Use water that is at room temperature to avoid plant shock. The water should also be free of chlorine and flourides as like other Calathea, Goeppertia insignis is sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water which will cause brown leaf tips and edges.

Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.

To reduce fungal infestations like leaf spot diseases, avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead.

Light Requirements

Rattlesnake Calathea grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching the leaves and loss of leaf color.

Rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for an even growth.

Where the natural lighting is not adequate, Goeppertia insignis can be grown under grow lights. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

Rattlesnake Calathea prefers average warmth of 15-260C. At temperatures below this range, the plant stops growing while temperatures above this range may cause the plant to die.

Keep Goeppertia insignis away from drafts as they cause sudden changes in temperature which the plant cannot tolerate and may cause it to die.

Rattlesnake Plant requires high humidity (50% to 80%) inorder to thrive. Low humidity causes the plant to develop brown leaf tips and edges. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity for the optimum growth of your plant.

To elevate humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

Calathea Rattlesnake can also be grown in the bathroom or other moist areas in the home where humidity is high if there is adequate lighting.

You can also grow Rattlesnake Plant in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Keep the leaves clean by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust as well as discourage pests and diseases.

Fertilizer

Feed Rattlesnake Calathea with a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly through out the growing season for a lush growth.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Once in a while, flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil. Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times.

Potting Medium

The best potting mix for Rattlesnake Calathea should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Buy potting medium online from Amazon.

Repotting

Repot Goeppertia insignis every 2-3 years at the beginning of the growing season or when it becomes root-bound. Take care not to injure its delicate roots.

Use a pot one size larger than the current one and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and loss of the plant. Check out these Self Watering Planters with Drainage Hole on Amazon.

Before repotting, water the plant thoroughly at least 1 day before to hasten establishment as a well hydrated plant suffers less repotting shock.

If the plant is large and has outgrown its current pot, divide it into several sections and use the splits to propagate new plants.

Repotting may cause the leaves to droop but the plant will eventually recover once it takes root; in about 3-4 weeks.

Pruning

Pruning Rattlesnake Calathea is easy. Remove dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and minimize pests and diseases infestation. Cut the leaves with a sharp knife or pruning scissors at the base, where the leaf meets the stalk.

Propagation

Rattlesnake Calathea (Goeppertia insignis) is propagated by plant division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting.

How to propagate Rattlesnake Calathea by plant division

Water the Rattlesnake Calathea thoroughly at least 1 day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment. A well hydrated plant suffers less shock and takes a shorter time to take root.

Take the plant out of its pot and divide it into several sections. Ensure each sections has adequate roots and at least 2-3 stems.

Select a 6 or 8 in. pot and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Fill the pot with Calathea potting medium and make a hole in the center of the pot. Ensure that the hole is slightly wider than the root base of the section.

Place the section in the previously made hole and lightly firm the soil around the base while taking care not to bury it too deep; maintain the section at the same soil level it was in the previous pot.

Liberally water the soil until water comes out through the drainage holes. Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment of the plants.

Place the pots in a warm, well-lit place until new growth has emerged on the sections.

Gradually remove the polythene over a period of two weeks to acclimatize the new plants.

Maintain the soil moist until the new Goeppertia insignis plants are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Rattlesnake Calathea, Rattlesnake Plant, Calathea lancifolia

Calathea lancifolia Problems and Solutions

Rattlesnake Calathea (Goeppertia insignis) growing problems include drooping leaves, yellow leaves, loss of leaf color, brown leaf tips, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Drooping leaves

Rattlesnake Calathea drooping leaves are due to three possible causes. One possible cause is too dry air (low humidity).

To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in a terrarium where a high humidity can easily be maintained.

The second possible cause of drooping leaves in Goeppertia insignis is incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.

Water the Rattlesnake Plant liberally and maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season.

Cut down on watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Make sure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

The third possible cause of drooping leaves in Rattlesnake Calathea is that the plant is root-bound which means that the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil to hold water when you water the plant.

Therefore, there is no water for the plant to take up to the leaves. The leaves loss their stiffness and they droop.

Check the bottom of the pot for roots growing through the drainage hole. Repot the plant into a pot one size larger than the current one or divide it into several sections to propagate new plants.

Leaves appear washed out

Rattlesnake Calathea washed out leaves are due to exposure of the plant to hot direct sunlight as it grows best in medium, indirect light away from direct sunshine.

Position the Calathea Rattlesnake in a more shaded spot or instal a light curtain to protect it from direct sunlight to prevent its eventual death.

Curled, yellowing leaves

Rattlesnake Calathea curled and yellowing leaves are caused by incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.

Overwatering (soggy soil) causes the roots to die due to lack of oxygen in the soil. When the roots die they cannot take up water and therefore the leaves begin to curl, yellow and eventually die.

Underwatering implies that there is too little moisture in the soil and therefore, the plant has no water to take up to the leaves.

Thus, the leaves begin to curl, yellow and eventually die if the situation is not corrected.

Water the Calathea Rattlesnake thoroughly until water comes out through the drainage hole and keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season.

Decrease watering in the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Also, ensure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Brown, dry leaf tips and edges

Brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Rattlesnake Calathea are due to four possible causes. One possible cause is dry air (too little humidity).

Calathea Rattlesnake requires a humid environment to thrive. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in the bathroom or other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Rattlesnake Calathea which is accompanied by stunted growth is infestation by spider mites due to the air being too dry (low humidity).

Remove the dead growth and raise humidity for the plant (as outlined above) to discourage the pest infestations.

The third cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Rattlesnake Calathea is watering it with hard water. Water the plant with chlorine-free water only like rain water.

Like other Calathea, Rattlesnake Calathea is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water and it responds with brown leaf tips and edges.

The fourth cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Rattlesnake Calathea is accumulation of salts or chemicals in the soil which may have originated from the water used for watering or from the fertilizers used.

Regularly, flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil. Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times.

Plant dying

Rattlesnake Calathea is dying due to two possible reasons. One possible reason is root-rot which is brought about by soggy soil.

Take out the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Brown-black mushy roots indicate root-rot, trim them off and treat the healthy roots with a fungicidal solution.

Disinfect the pot or use a fresh pot to repot the plant in fresh free-draining soil.

Do not water the plant and keep it dry for some time before resuming watering. Read more on how to deal with root-rot in houseplants.

To prevent root-rot in the future, always make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.

Also, do not overwater the plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but maintain the soil slightly moist.

The second possible reason why the Rattlesnake Calathea is dying is pest infestations as it is prone to aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites and scale insects.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Diseases

Rattlesnake Calathea is also prone to leaf spot disease due to the humid conditions in which it grows. The disease is presents as brown patches surrounded by a yellow halo.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the leaf spot disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Goeppertia insignis syn. Calathea lancifolia?

Goeppertia insignis also goes by the botanical name Calathea lancifolia. It is one of 243 species, which have recently been reassigned to the genus Goeppertia.

Goeppertia are distinguished from Calathea by their rosette-shaped flowers as Calathea have more of a ladder structure for their blooms.

Goeppertia is in honour of a German botanist and paleontologist, Heinrich Göppert (1800–1884).

2. What is interesting about Rattlesnake Plant?

Rattlesnake Plant bears very spectacular foliage which makes it a delight in any plant collection.

3. Is Rattlesnake a Prayer Plant?

Rattlesnake is one of the Prayer Plants. This is a group of plants which exhibit a curious characteristic of closing their leaves at night making them appear like praying hands.

4. How do you take care of Goeppertia insignis?

For optimal growth, provide Goeppertia insignis with bright, indirect light (dappled light), average warmth of 15-260C, 50% to 80% humidity and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

5. How often do you water Goeppertia?

Water Goeppertia liberally during the growing season when the top 2-3 inch of soil dries out and maintain the soil moderately moist through out. Decrease watering in the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

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