Calathea plants are popular because they are attractive and easy to care for. What makes the calathea rufibarba different, however, is the underside of its leaves, which are furry or fuzzy. This is why people often call this plant the velvet calathea or the fuzzy/furry feather calathea.
- Scientific Name/Common Names: Goeppertia rufibarba/Calathea rufibarba, fuzzy/furry calathea, velvet calathea, calathea “Wavestar”
- Origin: Native plant of the Amazon rainforests in Brazil and other parts of South America
- Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor
- Height/Structure: Grows up to three feet high
- Temperature: 65 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Flower Color: Yellow (in blooming season)
Calathea rufibarba plants have dark green leaves with a deep maroon color on the undersides. When the blooming season arrives, they grow large yellow flowers that give the plant some color. The calathea rufibarba is different from other calathea plants in that there isn’t as much texture on the leaves as the other species.
Keep in mind that these plants are used to tropical conditions, so a little humidity makes them thrive. Direct sunlight is not recommended, and they are easy to grow because they are not prone to diseases and tend to be fairly resistant to pests.
Make sure that your calathea rufibarba is moist but not wet, and you also want it to drain well. Potting soil and compost is a good combination for this type of plant. You want a soil that retains enough water for the plant to be healthy but one that releases all of the excess water.
The calathea rufibarba should be watered every five days or so, and if you’re not sure, stick your finger into the soil. If the top inch is dry, you’ll need to water your plant. And when it comes to the water you use, try to use filtered water whenever you can. Tap water has too many unhealthy minerals in it and hard water is a definite no-no.
Keep your calathea rufibarba away from direct sunlight, which means away from windows. And if you keep it around other plants, that’s even better because it protects the plant from getting too much sun.
When it comes to the temperature, make sure that it doesn’t get above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can technically survive when the temperature is as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, keep your home a comfortable temperature and the calathea rufibarba will be comfortable as well.
As far as fertilizing goes, this plant only needs to be fertilized during its growing season in the spring and summer. Find a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and add it to the water every two weeks. Choosing an organic fertilizer is even better because it won’t damage the roots if you accidentally give it too much.
You may have to repot your calathea rufibarba occasionally, but you’ll only have to do so about every two years because it is such a slow grower. Just get a new pot that is a few inches bigger, and make sure that you pull the plant out from the base and detangle the roots before you replant.
If the leaves of the plant start to turn yellow, it’s time to prune. You can prune the calathea rufibarba plant any time of the year, and if you wish to propagate the plant, you should do this in the spring and summer months.
Cut the stem of an existing plant without the roots and place that stem in fresh potting soil. When propagating, the stem needs to stay in a dark, humid place until it takes root.
If your plant is healthy, it is unlikely it’ll ever be bothered by pests. If you do see some, it will likely be something such as mealybugs or spider mites, which can be wiped off easily with a damp cloth. Taking good care of your plants means that you likely won’t see any pests at all.
There will also be times when problems occur with your calathea rufibarba plant, and here are some possible solutions to those problems:
- If your leaves are starting to wilt or curl, or if the potting mix is very dry, it means that the plant is under-watered.
- If the leaves are turning yellow or have a black base, it means that the plant is being over-watered.
- If you see spots on the leaves, it is likely either a fungal infection or too many minerals. The latter can happen when you use regular tap water. Always use distilled or filtered water on all of your houseplants, including the calathea rufibarba plants.
Usually, the problems have solutions that are easy to determine and even easier to fix. The main thing you want to remember with any type of calathea plant is that they are used to moist, humid conditions. Make sure that their soil is always moist but not overly watered and that they are in a humid environment.
If you live in an area that’s dry, you might want to consider purchasing a humidifier for the room where you keep your plants. Keeping them three to four feet away from the windows is also a good idea because they need indirect sun or even shade.
The calathea rufibarba plant does have several varieties, some of which are common and others that are rare. Some of the most common varieties include the
- Beauty Star
- White Fusion
There are other calathea species that you might enjoy if you like the calathea rufibarba, including the following:
- Calathea lancifolia
- Calathea zebrina
- Calathea crocata
- Calathea roseopicta
- Calathea ornata/pinstripe
- Calathea warscewiczii (Velvet Touch)
- Calathea makoyana
- Calathea orbifolia
Calathea plants are very popular indoor plants mainly because of their decorative leaves. Each species’ leaves look a little different, with each one having a different pattern. But they are eye-catching plants that are relatively easy to grow, which is part of the reason for their popularity.
The calathea rufibarba plant is not known to be toxic to either humans or pets. It is a very safe plant to have around your house. This being said, it is still recommended that you keep all houseplants away from small children and pets.