Botanical name: Calathea rufibarba
Synonym: Goeppertia rufibarba
Common name: Furry Feather Calathea, Velvet Calathea
Calathea rufibarba commonly called Furry Feather Calathea or Velvet Calathea bears red stems and deep blue-green, elongated leaves with a dark-purple underside.
The common names, 'Furry Feather Calathea' and 'Velvet Calathea', are in reference to the tiny hairs that cover the waxy leaves and stems which give the plant a soft, velvety feel to the touch.
Furry Feather Calathea may not be considered as an easy-care plant but if the growing conditions are met, the plant is a pleasant addition to any houseplant collection.
Calathea rufibarba also called Goeppertia rufibarba is native to the tropical rainforests of Bahia state of northeastern Brazil.
Calathea rufibarba (Furry Feather Calathea) like other Calathea Plants is non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. It is safe to grow indoors.
Furry Feather 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.
Furry Feather Calathea is readily available online at Etsy. Buy Calathea rufibarba (Furry Feather Calathea) from Etsy.
Furry Feather Calathea (Calathea rufibarba) thrives in bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Calathea rufibarba requires repotting only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Pruning is necessary to keep it neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations. Keep reading for more on the growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Calathea rufibarba grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves and also cause loss of leaf color.
For even growth, regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides.
Furry Feather Calathea can also be grown under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water Calathea rufibarba liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and keep the soil moderately moist.
Cut down on watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Use tepid water that is free of chlorine and flourides as Velvet Calathea like other Calathea is sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water which cause brown leaf tips and edges.
Ensure 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.
Avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead to prevent fungal infestations like leaf spot diseases.
Furry Feather Calathea prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C and a maximum of 250C. At temperatures below this range, the plant stops growing while temperatures above this range may cause the plant to die.
Keep the Velvet Calathea away from draughts as they cause sudden changes in temperature which the plant cannot tolerate.
Calathea rufibarba requires high humidity (50% to 80%) inorder to thrive. Low humidity results in brown leaf tips and edges. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity for the optimum growth of the plant.
To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in the bathroom and other moist areas in the home where humidity is high. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Calathea rufibarba is ideal for growing in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium.
Once in a while, clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and also discourage pest infestations.
Feed Calathea rufibarba with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks through out the growing season for a lush growth.
Stop feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.
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.
Repot Calathea rufibarba every 2-3 years at the beginning of the growing season or when it becomes root-bound. Use a pot one size larger than the current one.
Make sure 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.
At least one day before repotting, water the Velvet Calathea thoroughly to hasten establishment as a well hydrated plant suffers less repotting shock.
Where the plant is large and has outgrown its current pot, divide it into several sections and use the splits to propagate new plants.
Once repotted the leaves may droop but the plant will eventually recover in about 3-4 weeks once it takes root.
The best soil for Calathea rufibarba should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Buy quality Calathea potting medium for Furry Feather Calathea online from Etsy.
Pruning Calathea rufibarba is easy. Remove dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and reduce pest and disease infestations. Cut the leaves with a sharp knife or scissors at the base, where the leaf meets the stalk.
Calathea rufibarba (Furry Feather Calathea) is propagated by plant division at the beginning of the growing season during repotting.
Water the Calathea rufibarba thoroughly at least one day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment as 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 away from direct sunlight 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 Velvet Calathea plants are well established after which you can begin routine care.
Velvet Calathea growing problems include curled and yellow leaves, drooping leaves, loss of leaf color, brown leaf tips, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
Calathea rufibarba curled and yellowing leaves are caused by incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.
Overwatering and 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.
As such, the leaves begin to curl, yellow and eventually die if the situation is not corrected.
Water the Furry Feather Calathea thoroughly and keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season.
Decrease watering in the cold season 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.
Calathea rufibarba drooping leaves are due to three possible causes. One possible cause is too dry air (low humidity). Velvet Calathea is very sensitive to low air humidity.
To increase humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.
You can also grow the Furry Feather Calathea in a terrarium where high humidity can be easily maintained.
The second possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea rufibarba is incorrect watering; either overwatering (soggy soil) or underwatering.
Water the Velvet Calathea liberally and maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season. Reduce watering during the cold season 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.
The third possible cause of drooping leaves in Calathea rufibarba is that the plant is root-bound.
This means that the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil to hold water when you water your 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 and repot the plant into a pot one size larger than the current one or divide it into several sections to propagate new plants.
Calathea rufibarba may die due to two possible reasons. One possible is root-rot which is brought about by soggy soil.
Slip the plant out of 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 with the fungicidal solution 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 treat root-rot here.
To prevent root-rot in the future, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Avoid overwatering the plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but maintain the soil slightly moist.
The second possible reason why Calathea rufibarba is dying is pest infestations as it is prone to mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites.
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.
Brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea rufibarba are due to four possible causes. One possible cause is dry air (too little humidity).
Furry Feather Calathea requires a humid environment inorder to thrive. To elevate humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in the bathroom and other moist areas in the home where humidity is high.
The second cause of brown, dry leaf tips and edges in Calathea rufibarba 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 Calathea rufibarba is watering it with hard water. Water the plant with chlorine-free water only like rain water.
Velvet 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 Calathea rufibarba is accumulation of salts or chemicals in the soil which may have come from the water or fertilizers used.
Flush out accumulated chemicals (salts) from the soil regularly 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.
Calathea rufibarba washed out leaves are due to exposure of the plant to hot direct sunlight as the plant grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine.
Place the Furry Feather Calathea in a more shaded spot or instal a light curtain to shield it from direct sunlight to prevent its eventual death.
Calathea rufibarba is prone to leaf spot disease which is enhanced by the humid conditions in which it grows. The disease is characterized by 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.
Homeplantsguide.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.