Calathea lancifolia (insignis)

rattlesnake plant
Eye catching upright foliage plant has clustering growth. Bright green leaves adorned with jewel-like oval patterns. Ruby undersides are visible at night when leaves lift in ‘prayer’.
height 1–2ft
width 8–18in
tolerates Pots
When soil surface is dry.
This plant wants water when the top of the soil is dry, but you can still feel moisture just below the surface. This plant will often fall into a once-a-week watering cycle, but remember that your watering should be based on the moisture left in the soil, which will depend partly on the moisture in the room and the weather outside. The soil ‘surface’ goes a bit deeper for larger pots; for example, a plant in a 14-inch diameter pot should dry out a couple of inches deep before you water it, while a plant in a 4-inch pot will only want to dry out in the top half inch or so of soil.
exposure Moderate Indirect – Bright Indirect
drainage In Ground: Planting Mix, In Pots: Potting Soil
fertilizing All Purpose
origin Brazil

Sunset Zones Map

Indoor Exposure Guide


Direct Sun
Beams of light hitting the plant near a window four or more hours a day. The most intense light. If you're in a direct sun spot, you can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Partial Direct
Occurs when you have a plant that is in less intense direct sunlight. This happens when a plant is in a few hours of direct morning sun, or an hour or less of direct afternoon sun. It also happens when a plant is in direct sun, but more than six feet from a window, where the light is diffused.

Bright Indirect
This is just beyond the direct beam of light (or through cracked blinds or a sheer curtain filtering direct sun). Bright indirect areas are characterized by a place where you can sit and read a novel comfortably without artificial light.

Moderate Indirect
Beyond the bright indirect light. In these areas you wouldn't turn on a light walking through the room, but if you were hanging out there you would probably have the lights on, even during the day.

Low Light
Dim spots, usually the backs of rooms or hallways where you would always turn lights on, even if just walking in to grab something.


Growing Notes

Calathea are dramatic foliage plants that fill out from the base over time. Many have dark undersides to the leaves. This can be a dramatic contrast from day to night and against light walls or fixtures when placed at an elevated position.
It is natural for older leaves to dry up and remain at the base of plants. If they do not come off with a light tug, they are easily pruned off to keep your plant looking tidy. You can prune your lower leaves once they begin to brown, without worrying about hurting the plant.
Brown crispy tipping is common on this plant when it is grown in direct sun, or too dry of a room. Try moving it to a bright spot or a bathroom or kitchen near a sink, if you see this.

Special Interest

During the day leaves spread out, showing off graphic patterns on their tops. These plants evolved their characteristic patterns to convince bugs and other predators that they’ve already been eaten and only the leaf skeleton remains. Amazingly, at night the leaves fold upwards and inwards. The undersides are dark, helping to cloak the plant from any predators. This upward nightly posture gives this plant its common name: the prayer plant.

Most houseplants are poisonous to cats and dogs, but calathea are not!