Calathea Rufibarba, Furry Feather Marantha
With its long green leaves and maroon undersides, the Calathea Rufibarba has one of the most unusual leaf shapes of all Calathea plants. Not to be confused with the rather similar looking Calathea lancifolia, the Calathea Rufibarba is also often referred to as the ‘velvet calathea’ or ‘furry feather Calathea’ on account of its fluffy feather-shaped leaves.
The Maranta genus includes a few dozen low-growing plants native to the American tropics. Maranta have some of the most beautiful, most decorative leaves in the plant kingdom. The popular M. tricolour has deep green, velvety leaves with yellow splotches down the midrib and arching red veins travelling to the leaf margins. They are fairly common as houseplants, but not necessarily easy to keep growing over the long term. They require plenty of warmth and humidity and are susceptible to several pests. That said, however, some people have more luck with Maranta species than with the closely related Calathea, which also feature beautiful leaves but can be a bit more temperamental. Maranta are all fairly low-growing plants in terms of display, with none reaching over about 8 inches tall, making them excellent for grouped displays of low plants on a windowsill.
Light: Maranta dislikes direct sunlight. If exposed to direct light, their leaves will fade in colour intensity and often develop blotches or patches. In the winter, when the plants go into dormancy (and sometimes die back completely), give them bright light to maintain growth.
Water: During the growth season, water frequently and never allows potting soil to dry out. They are very susceptible to drought. However, to avoid fungal problems, try not to get water directly on the leaves or let them sit.
Soil: A rich, peat-based potting soil with excellent drainage is beneficial.
Fertilizer: Feed with a weak liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season. Cut fertilizer back to once a month or so in the winter.
Some Maranta species can be propagated by leaf cuttings or rhizome division. The most common (and easiest) way to propagate Maranta is by division at repotting. When repotting, simply divide the plant in half and pot up each half in a fresh pot. Keep new divisions very warm and moist during the first few weeks until new growth emerges.
Maranta are not necessarily fast-growing plants and even healthy specimens likely only need to be repotted every other year. During repotting, gently remove the plant from its old container, shake roots clean, and place it into a new container with fresh potting soil. Divide the plant during repotting to increase your stock. Repot in the spring, before the growing season starts.
There are many varieties of Maranta, but the most popular by far is the tricolour variation that pops up in garden centres. Alternatively, the Maranta and Calathea plants are so closely associated with one another that it’s not uncommon to see labelling errors.
Calathea Rufibarba Plant Care & Watering Guide
Watering your Rufibarba Plant
Calatheas like to be damp at all times and, unlike philodendrons, don’t enjoy drying out in-between waterings. With this being said, one of the most common causes of plant death is root rot and so it’s worth noting that the plant likes to have its feet moist, but not sitting in water.
One of the biggest problems plant lovers face when caring for their calathea plants is browning leaf edges. This is particularly common in cultivars such as the Calathea Orbifolia, though much less common in the Calathea Rufibarba.
If brown tips occur, it likely means that your plant is receiving the wrong kind of minerals in the water it is being given. To combat this, I typically allow water to sit in a jar for several days before using it to water my plants. Alternatively, you could try using rainwater.
Another common reason for brown tips is the lack of humidity. This can be solved by keeping your calathea plant in a bathroom or kitchen (provided that they still have adequate light) or grouping some of your calathea plants in an arrangement. If you want even more tips on how to deal with browning Calathea leaf tips