Maranta vs calathea has been confusing hobbyists all over the world. If you are one of them, this is the article you need to read. Our experts give you valuable tips and tricks to differentiate between these two plants.

Read the differences below and find out how you can care for each of these plants.

Quick Overview

Here is a table of comparison for a quick overview of the differences between these two plants.

Maranta Calathea
Leaves Oval leaves with bright, ribbed, symmetrical veins Can have round, oval, oblong or lance-shaped leaves with ornate patterns
Environment Outdoor or indoor plants Outdoor plants 
Temperature Can tolerate cold temperatures Cannot tolerate cold temperatures
Color Have bold striped patterns that are deep red or lime green in color Come in different striking colors with beautiful patterns, resembling a pastel watercolor painting
Growth Bushy and easy to propagate Grow upright, maintaining their shape and do not require much pruning
Care Easy to propagate and grow independently More challenging to care for
Propagation Stem cuttings Division
Water and Soil Needs consistently moist soil Let soil dry out first before watering

Difference Between Maranta and Calathea

The biggest visual difference between calathea and maranta is their foliage color, as maranta plants have bold, striped patterns of deep red or green while calathea plants resemble a watercolor painting with its splotches of color.

Calathea and maranta are plants that belong to the same family. Commonly labeled as the prayer plant, both are similar to a large extent. However, the plants are not entirely the same and come with a distinct set of differences. Find them listed below.

– Leaves

Maranta has oval leaves. They have bright ribbed veins with a symmetrical pattern. 

Calathea leaves, on the other hand, can be round, oval, oblong or lance-shaped. The leaves have ornate patterns. The underside of calathea leaves have bold colors, and the complex patterns remind you of a watercolor painting.

In addition, calathea plant leaves are stiffer than maranta leaves. They stand away from the main plant and the leaves come in a wide variety of colors with dark burgundy pinstripes.

– Indoor Growth

Calathea plants do not thrive indoors. They are more outdoor plants and have beautiful, rich foliage.

Maranta plants can thrive in hanging pots. You can place them indoors, in the yard, or on your patio.

– Temperature Tolerance

The maranta plant is more tolerant of cold temperatures. On the other hand, calathea plants cannot tolerate any temperature that falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where maranta manage to thrive well and stay healthy in cooler temperatures, calathea thrive best when the environment is humid.

– Color Difference

The biggest visual difference between calathea and maranta is their foliage color. Maranta plants have bold striped patterns. These stripes are deep red or lime green in color. Some species even come with a pattern of splotches against the light green.

Calathea species each come in different colors that are striking and contain beautiful patterns. These colors resemble a pastel watercolor painting, and you will not find a single specific color on these plants.

– Growth of Foliage

Calathea and maranta plants both grow at different rates.

Maranta plants have foliage that spreads in different directions. They are bushy and easy to propagate as well. Due to their spreading foliage, these plants thrive best in hanging pots. Snip off the unruly growth and you will have a beautiful plant in your pot.

Calathea plants grow upright in a bushy manner. They maintain their shape and do not require much pruning.

– Care

Maranta plants are easy to propagate and grow independently, all they require is a little bit of pruning. Calathea plants are more challenging to care for in comparison. When it comes to calathea vs maranta care, calathea will require more attention and care.

– Blooms

Maranta blooms come out easily. The pretty blooms are tiny and delicate.

Calathea blooms are tiny as well but take more time to sprout out as buds. The blooms stay at the bottom, closer to its leaves.

– Propagation

Maranta gets propagated by stem cuttings. Cut the long stems with a node and place them in water. You will soon be able to grow an independent maranta plant.

With a calathea, you can propagate it only by division and not by the stem cutting method.

– Water and Soil Conditions

Maranta need consistently moist soil as they do not thrive well in humid conditions.

Calathea, on the other hand, are tap water tolerant. They need some humidity conditions and the soil needs to dry out well before you water them again.

Popular Calathea Varieties

Calathea varieties are popular among gardeners due to their stunning foliage. There are several varieties of this plant and each is different in appearance. Here are a few popular calathea varieties.

– Calathea Lancifolia

This variety is also known as the rattlesnake plant. Calathea lancifolia is the easiest calathea to take care of. The leaves are long and lance or sword-shaped, similar to a rattlesnake pattern.

The plant can grow up to 12 inches long. The leaf texture will be thick and glossy with a purple underside. You will also spot yellow flowers blooming from this plant in the spring.

– Calathea Zebrina

Another popular calathea plant is the zebrina. This plant comes with stripes on the surface of its velvety leaves. The striped leaves are oblong and thick.

You can find the distinct stripes extending from the ventral vein up to the leaf margin. The purple-white flowers of the plant bloom in spring.

– Calathea Makoyana

This variety is also known as the peacock plant due to its beautiful pattern and foliage. The leaves are egg-shaped and have paper-thin silvery streaks extending from the central vein to the leaf margins.

The underside of these leaves are pink or red. Calathea makoyana produces small, white flowers in spring.

– Calathea Warscewiczii

This calathea is also known as Jungle Velvet. The plant grows lance-shaped leaves which are velvety and dark green. Jungle Velvet requires high humidity levels to grow.

– Calathea Crocata

This plant comes with beautiful leaves and yellow-orange flowers. The leaves are ruffled with a purple underside. The flowers are long and spiked and grow during the spring months.

This variety can grow up to a height of 1 to 2 feet tall.

– Calathea Roseopicta

This calathea is also known as the Rose-Painted Calathea. The leaves of this plant are wide and round with long petioles.

They can come in various colors of green, silver, pink and purple. The underside of its leaves are red or purple. The plant will grow to a height of about 30 inches, and its white and purple flowers bloom in summer.

Popular Types of Maranta Plants

Maranta plants with thick foliage have several varieties as well. Here are the most popular ones.

– Red Maranta or Erythroneura

This maranta is also called the red nerve plant. The variety comes with greenish-black leaves. The midribs have a red shade along a greenish-yellow center.

This maranta variety is very popular among plant lovers. It has red veins on its leaves, hence the name red nerve plant. The best way to grow red maranta is to keep them pot-bound. As its roots are shallow, make sure the pot is shallow as well.

– Kerchoviana

This plant is often labeled as rabbit’s foot. This maranta grows into long vines that hang down its pot, which is why it also bears the name hanging plant. The foliage is velvety with brown splotches.

– Silver Feather Maranta

This maranta has grayish-blue veins on its leaf surface. The plant boasts of three distinct hues of blue, green and gray. The foliage is slender and the variegation of the leaves is light and dark green, the veins decorated with light gray-blue markings.

– Lubbersiana Maranta

This type of maranta plant has oblong and round leaves. The variegation on the leaves is cream and yellow while the leaves themselves are predominantly green.

This variety is commonly referred to as the Baburanta as well. The plant can grow to a height of up to 4 feet. Lubbersiana maranta is bushy and this plant can spread to a width of 3 feet.

– Kim Maranta

This is a stunning prayer plant with beautiful foliage. The plant is stubby and has light colors. You can find purple spots with streaks of white on its foliage. Kim maranta is perfect for table decor and as a hanging plant for the patio.

– Maranta Leuconeura or the Fascinator

This variety of maranta is slightly different from the other types as its leaves are more oval. They are a dark green in color with maroon veins forming a pattern on them. The underside of the leaves have a red or purple color.

– Ctenanthe Setosa

Ctenanthe setosa is also called the Gray Atar. The plant comes with elliptical leaves that have dark veins against a pale silver tinge.

They also have a red-purple underside. The plant can grow to a height of up to 5 feet.

Are Both Prayer Plants?

The Maranta and the Calathea plants are both called prayer plants, but maranta is the only actual prayer plant. The reason for the name prayer plant is due to the movement of the leaves during the day.

The leaves of a maranta fold and close during the evening, resembling hands that are offering a prayer. This is called the nastic movement and is due to the plant’s response to light. The leaves stay flat during the day.

Calathea is incorrectly labeled as a prayer plant because it does not do anything like this. With this in mind, referring to this as a prayer plant is incorrect. Calathea is sometimes also called the rattlesnake plant or peacock plant depending on the variety.

Conclusion

After reading this article you can now distinguish between a Maranta and a Calathea plant. Let us sum up the vital differences between these two plants.

  • Maranta plants have oval leaves whereas the Calathea leaves can be round, oval, oblong or lance-shaped.
  • Calathea plants do not thrive indoors, but maranta can be happy in a hanging pot.
  • Maranta plants are easy to propagate and grow independently.
  • Calathea plants are more challenging to care for in comparison.
  • Maranta is the only actual prayer plant due to the movement of its leaves during the day.

Now that you know the differences between the Calathea and Maranta plants, which one do you prefer for your garden?

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