Calathea Rattlesnake: Is It Easy to Grow at Home?

This plant is native to the tropical regions of Brazil. It is part of the Calathea family and possesses some of its fussy care requirements. It may not be the easiest houseplant to grow, but it is definitely unique-looking and stunning.

How to Identify Calathea Rattlesnake

The key identifiers of this plant are:

  • Leaves that are variegated in shades of green
  • Leaves that look crinkly
  • Leaves that are a purplish-maroon underneath

How to Grow Calathea Rattlesnake from Seed

calathea rattlesnake

It is a time-consuming and difficult process to grow a Calathea plant from seed, which is why it is not a common method used.  However, with some patience, it can be done. The steps to growing a Calathea Rattlesnake from seed are:

  1. Purchase seeds from a reputable seller (sellers who price their seeds between $1 and $2)
  2. Create a mixture of soil and peat mixed with coarse sand  (the ratio should 1:1 soil to peat/sand mixture)
  3. Fill a plant container with the soil and peat/sand mixture
  4. Place the seeds half an inch into the soil
  5. Lightly water the soil
  6. Cover the plant container with a plastic bag to retain moisture
  7. Set the plant container in a warm area that receives bright but indirect sunlight
  8. Remove the plastic bag for a few hours every other day to allow the seeds access to fresh air
  9. Once the seeds have germinated and sprouted to two inches tall, they can be transplanted to larger containers

How to Propagate Calathea Rattlesnake

This plant is best propagated new in the spring or early summer to limit shock. The most common method used to propagate a Calathea Rattlesnake is plant division.  The steps for doing this are:

  1. Carefully remove the plant from its current container
  2. Gently pull apart the plant’s roots so that each root section has at least one leaf, or, use a sterile cutting utensil to divide the plant’s rhizome.
  3. Fill new plant containers with potting soil
  4. Place the plant sections into the new containers and spread the soil around their roots to secure them into the containers
  5. Water the new plants
  6. Place the plant in a warm area that receives plenty of bright, but indirect sunlight
  7. Cover the plants with a plastic bag
  8. Once the plants begin to grow in a few weeks, the plastic bag can be removed

Calathea Rattlesnake Growing Conditions

Since this plant is native to tropical regions of South America it prefers an environment that resembles its native lands.  It should be set in an area that has temperatures that range between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It will, of course, need humidity levels that are at least 50%.  It is also recommended that it be kept away from cold drafts and air conditioner and heater vents.

A plant humidifier or pebble tray and a heat mat can be utilized to provide the heat and humidity this plant needs without creating an indoor environment that is uncomfortable for humans and pets.

How to Plant Calathea Rattlesnake


To know when this plant should be repotted, look for the following signs:

  • Slowed growth
  • It requires more than two watering sessions a week
  • Its roots are growing out of its container’s drainage holes
  • Its foliage looks too heavy for its current container

Repotting should only be done in the spring or summer to reduce stress and the chance of shock.  This process will benefit the plant by providing it with fresh soil and more room for its root system to grow.  The steps for repotting a Calathea Rattlesnake plant are:

  1. Choose a plant container that is 2 inches larger in diameter than its current container
  2. Fill the plant container potting soil
  3. Create a hole in the soil for the plant to set inside
  4. Carefully remove the plant from its current container
  5. Gently dust off any excess soil from its roots
  6. Using a sterile cutting utensil, cut off any rotten roots
  7. Set the plant into the hole in the new container
  8. Spread the soil around so that the plant is secure in its new container
  9. Water the plant
  10. Set it in a warm spot with plenty of sunlight

Calathea Rattlesnake Potting & Soil

This plant requires soil that drains water well but can still retain some moisture.  It doesn’t like to sit in dry or soggy soil so it needs soil that will remain moist.  The soil should contain two parts peat and one part perlite.

These are both great options to use for any Calathea plant:

Along with a well-draining soil mix, Calathea Rattlesnake requires soil that has a pH level ranging from neutral to slightly acidic. It should not be kept in soil that is at all alkaline. Use a Soil pH Meter to test soil pH levels to know which direction they should be adjusted.  To create higher levels of soil acidity for a Calathea Rattlesnake, add bone meal, hardwood ashes, or ground eggshells to it.  For a more detailed look at how to adjust soil pH levels, read this article.

Calathea Rattlesnake Water Requirements

This type of plant needs moist soil all the time.  It will not grow well in dry or soggy soil.  The best way to confirm that a Calathea Rattlesnake needs a drink is to test its soil moisture.  If the top inch of its soil is dried out, it needs a drink. However, if the top inch of soil is soggy, it does not need a drink.

Use a plant watering app to help track when a plant has been watered, set reminders to water it, and get answers to common plant care questions.

Calathea Rattlesnake Light Requirements

This plant should be set in an area that receives plenty of bright but filtered or indirect sunlight.  It should never be set in direct sunlight because this will cause its lovely leaf markings to fade.  Use a light meter to ensure that this indoor plant is receiving adequate amounts of sunlight.

Best Calathea Rattlesnake Fertilizer

Use a balanced liquid fertilizer to feed this plant once a month during spring and summer.  The doses should be diluted to half strength. Smiling Worm is an excellent choice of fertilizer for all varieties of Calathea plants.

Best Calathea Rattlesnake Companion Plantings

Cluster this plant with other types of tropical plants to create extra humidity. This is healthy plant care at its most frugal.  The following three plants are just a sampling of the many wonderful tropical plants that would make an ideal companion planting for a Calathea Rattlesnake.

Calathea Dottie

Calathea Dottie

This is a strikingly beautiful tropical plant that is also a very popular houseplant.  It has gorgeous leaves that are green, glossy, and highlighted with vibrant pink streaks.  This plant’s good looks and familial standing make it perfect to use as a companion for a Calathea Rattlesnake.

Light Requirements

Calathea Dottie should be placed in an area that receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

Soil Requirements

Calathea Dottie requires soil that is well-draining but still able to retain some moisture.

Water Requirements

Calathea Dottie should be watered every week or two when its soil begins to dry out.  It should not be allowed to sit in dry soil or soggy soil.


  • It is a beautiful and unique-looking plant
  • It is easy to find and purchase online


  • It is difficult to propagate
  • It requires plenty of humidity
  • It is susceptible to dehydration
  • It is susceptible to root rot

Rose Painted Calathea

rose painted calathea

This is a very pretty and closely related member of the Calathea family. It, too, has a few fussy features, but it is simply lovely to use as home décor or as a companion for a Calathea Rattlesnake.

Light Requirements

This plant should be set in an area that receives plenty of bright, but indirect sunlight.  It should never be set in direct sunlight.

Soil Requirements

Rose Painted Calathea requires soil that drains water well but can still retain some moisture. The soil should contain two parts peat and one part perlite.

Water Requirements

Rose Painted Calathea should only be watered when the top inch of its soil is dried out.


  • It is an absolutely beautiful plant
  • It is not toxic
  • It is a small and compact plant


  • It is fussy about its water regimen
  • It is susceptible to infestations of scale insects and spider mites
  • It requires plenty of humidity

Sago Palm

sago palm

This is an impressive-looking plant that looks great anywhere. It is, however, a very finicky plant that can require some time to learn how to care for properly. Also, it is highly toxic and should not be placed in an area where it is easy for pets and children to reach.

Light Requirements

Sago Palm should be set in an area that receives plenty of bright, but indirect sunlight. It will burn and wilt in direct sunlight.

Soil Requirements

Sago Palm requires soil that drains water well and has a pH level ranging from acidic to neutral.

Water Requirements

Sago Palm prefers soil that is moist and never soggy. It can tolerate drier conditions better than it can tolerate soggy soil.


  • It is a unique-looking plant
  • It can be propagated via seed or division
  • It is a resilient plant that doesn’t have too many problems with pests


  • It is very toxic
  • It is susceptible to overwatering
  • It is susceptible to root rot
  • It requires plenty of humidity
  • It is not cold tolerant

Calathea Rattlesnake Diseases and Common Problems

When caring for a plant it is best to treat them quickly when they show signs of an infestation or a disease.  This will give them a chance to recover and it may prevent other, nearby plants from being infected as well.

When caring for one of these plants, look for these common issues:

  • Leaves with brown edges
  • Leaves with burnt edges
  • Spider Mites

Calathea Rattlesnake Treatments and Maintenance

Most plant diseases and problems can be prevented by learning how to properly water, feed, and provide sunlight for each type of plant.  It is also recommended that regularly scheduled pest and disease inspections be performed to catch any infestation quickly and prevent it from spreading throughout the plant or to other nearby plants. Many types of pest infestations can be prevented by regular cleanings with neem oil.

If, however, a Calathea Rattlesnake does show signs of an infestation or a disease, follow these steps:

Leaves with brown edges

This is a typical sign that either the plant’s water regimen needs to be tweaked, the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight, or it has been given too much fertilizer. Discovering the cause will be a matter of testing and analysis. Try the following treatment methods to help determine the cause of the brown leaves and discover how to better care for the plant.

  • Give it more water
  • Give it less water
  • Move it to a shadier area

If over-fertilization is suspected, saturate the soil with water

Leaves with burnt edges

This will require the same methods of treatment and maintenance as a plant that has leaves with brown edges.

Spider Mites

This type of infestation looks like webbing spread over the plant’s leaves and stems. To deal with this type of infestation, follow these steps:

  1. Spray the plant with a mixture of 1 quart of warm water, 1 tsp. of dish soap, and 2 tsps. Of neem oil
  2. Wipe off the leaves and stems
  3. Repeat as necessary

Where to Buy Calathea Rattlesnake Seeds Online

As is the case with most Calathea varieties, the seeds of this plant can be difficult to locate, but these shops are great places to begin searching for them.

Where to Buy Mature Calathea Rattlesnake Online

This plant’s seeds may not be a popular item to purchase, but the plant itself certainly is. The Sill is a great online shop that sells beautiful plants and gives helpful tips on how to care for them once they are delivered.


Question: Is Calathea Rattlesnake Toxic?

Answer: No, this is not a toxic plant.

Question: How Big Does Calathea Rattlesnake Grow?

Answer: This plant can grow up to 30 inches tall.

Question: Can Calathea Rattlesnake be Planted Outside?

Answer: Yes, but only in USDA Hardiness Zones 11 to 12; otherwise, it should be kept in a container that can be transported indoors when the weather gets chilly or too rainy.

Concluding Thoughts

Calathea Rattlesnake is another excellent houseplant for those gardeners who don’t mind a little fussiness; after all, it has such a beautiful and unique look that all the effort is well worth it.

Research Citations

Gardening Know How

The Spruce

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