Rattlesnake plant care indoors may not be the best option for beginner gardeners, but when they’re given the proper plant care, you’ll be rewarded by their uniquely patterned, glossy green foliage.
Goeppertia insignis, (previously Calathea lancifolia) is an evergreen perennial species originating from the Brazilian rainforests. It’s able to reach a height of up to 30 inches and its larger leaves boast variegated marks with plenty of green shades and a wavy pattern that forms around the edges.
I personally adore the undersides of the plant: they’re eye-catching because of the lovely tones of purple and red. Mine thrives when provided with sufficient filtered brightness!
In its natural habitat, this plant grows small yellow flowers in late spring. But, as a houseplant, it’s mostly cultivated for the elegant foliage because blooming indoors is very rare.
This plant is great for homes with kids and pets because it’s not toxic to them. Moreover, it helps you breathe cleaner air as it has larger leaves and thus, a greater air purifying capacity.
The common name is inspired by the markings on the leaves that resemble the markings on some rattlesnakes.
How to Care for a Rattlesnake Plant Indoors
Rattlesnake Plant Light
Give this plant the filtered light it needs and it will grow happy and healthy. Opt for windows without the intense sun in the afternoon or use drapes on the windows.
You can also place it in a bright room where it won’t receive direct light.
Rattlesnake Plant Temperature
Temperature is a really important part of rattlesnake plant care, to ensure that it will grow happy and healthy. The best temperature range is between 60 and 75 degrees F.
Although it can withstand lower temperatures than these, it’s only for a short period of time and prolonged exposure to cold will make the leaves brown and droop, eventually causing the plant to die.
Temperature variations aren’t good for it. Keep it away from ventilation, drafts, and cool or dry air.
Water & Humidity
Rattlesnake plants needs regular watering in the summer period when it’s actively growing. Keep the soil moist most of the time. In the winter, when the plant isn’t growing, you can water it after the topsoil layer has dried out.
I’ve noticed my rattlesnake plant prefers to be watered more often in smaller amounts than being watered longer, less often. Water it until you notice the water coming out of the drainage holes and always pour out the surplus water.
This plant will show you if you’re giving it too little or too much water. Overwatering will usually result in yellowing leaves and under-watering can result in rattlesnake plant leaves curling.
This plant adores humidity so it’s a smart idea to put pebbles in the tray. The water draining from the soil will stay there and boost the humidity it needs. You can also mist the plant or transfer it to the bathroom when you’re showering.
A humidifier is always a good investment, especially for people who collect tropical indoor plants.
For your rattlesnakes, choose a well-draining soil. These plants dislike standing water but love it when the soil is kept moist.
In the best-case scenario, opt for a light sandy soil or a potting combo of peat moss and perlite with a 2:1 ratio. They also prefer slightly acidic or neutral pH soil and the alkaline ones aren’t recommendable.
Rattlesnake plants will be healthiest when you feed them monthly in the spring and summer.
Choose a balanced and liquid fertilizer for beautiful foliage.
You can also add a weak dosage of a specialized foliage fertilizer with nitrogen if you want to further encourage the health of the leaves.
Rattlesnake plants will appreciate the occasional repotting, every year or two. This is pivotal because the roots and stems will spread and need more room.
The repotting should be done in spring. Choose a pot only one size up and be cautious with the roots.
There’s no need of loosening the soil around the root ball too much but check it well to see if there are any insects or pests. Use new, adequate soil and plant it in the new pot.
Rattlesnake Plant Propagation
Rattlesnake plant propagation is best done through division. You can do it when repotting the plant. Divide it naturally at the roots by half or more, depending on how many new plants you want.
Carefully divide the stems and repot them halfway in the pot. Choose only a slightly bigger pot. Water the soil well and place the new plants in suitable area of your home or office.
Best Rattlesnake Plant Varieties
Other lovely plants from the Goeppertia genus, similar to the rattlesnake plant:
- G. warszewiczii
This prayer plant, like the others in its family, has stunning adorned foliage with one-of-a-kind markings.
It curls up at night, reminding of a prayer position, and then unfolds in the morning.
The deep green leaves have purple undersides and a velvet texture. It requires the right conditions to thrive.
- G. roseopicta (jungle velvet)
This plant has impressive variegated foliage and it’s native to Amazon.
In wet tropics and subtropics like Hawaii and Florida, it can survive outdoors, but otherwise, it’s grown indoors.
It needs to be provided with sufficient dimmed light, humidity, and warmth.
The leaves are elliptical and have distinctive, rose-colored midrib and irregular rose markings that create a ring between the margins of the leaves and midribs.
- G. elliptica
Attractive and offering impressive foliage, this plant is highly sought after, mostly because of the variegated leaves. This is one of my top three houseplants!
After a reclassification, it’s become a part of the Goeppertia genus.
Similar to other species and cultivars from this genus, this one prefers indirect light and humidity.
The leathery, elliptical leaves have a medium green surface and white lines that run parallel to the lateral veins. The underside boasts a light green color.
Other Snakeplant Care Indoor Tips
- Prune the rattlesnake by cutting off unwanted leaves near the stem using sterilized scissors or a sharp knife.
- This plant needs to get enough filtered sunlight, warmth, and humidity to thrive and maintain its striking pattern.
Trouble Shooting- Common Snakeplant Care Issues
Problem: the snakeplant is drooping
Cause: Drafts or overwatering.
Solution: Too much water when the temperature is lower can cause the plant to become droopy and if it sits in too much water, the roots can start to rot.
Move the plant to a warmer area without drafts and extreme fluctuations in temperature.
Problem: Snakeplant leaves curling (spotted foliage, yellow leaves on the bottom)
Solution: Keep the soil moist at all times, especially in spring and summer. Underwatering is only “allowed” in winter with this plant.
Problem: Snakeplant leaves edges are browning
Cause: Low humidity.
Solution: Increase the humidity in the plant’s environment. You can use a tray with pebbles, do regular misting, or place a humidifier.