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How to Care for Calathea Setosa (Ctenanthe Setosa)

Calathea Setosa Pin
Calathea Setosa

Calathea Setosa is a popular house plant admired for their distinctively patterned, lengthy leaves. This popular plant among plant collectors acts as a beautiful and intriguing addition to any home. You may have also heard the Calathea Setosa common name, Never Never Plant and are most likely familiar with its popular name, Calathea Setosa “Grey Star.” These plants are known for the striking and distinct lines that adorn their long, green leaves which often have a purple underbelly. 

If you are interested in other Calatheas, we also have articles on the Calathea Ornata and Calathea White Star.

Before delving into the care for your Calathea Setosa, it is important to address a bit of background information on this unique plant first: 


Ctenante Setosa vs. Calathea Setosa

We are addressing how to care for the Calathea Setosa in this article, but it is important to note they are often confused for or mislabeled as a Ctenante Setosa. The Ctenante Setosa and Calathea Setosa both have the same species name but different genus. The care for both of them are similar. One minor difference is that a Ctenanthe can tolerate dryer air. Also, the Ctenanthe can be propagated from stem cuttings, but the Calathea can only be propagated by dividing the roots (discussed in further detail below.) As far as appearance goes, they are practically identical – even fooling many plant experts.

Calathea Exotica vs. Setosa

You will often see the comparison of Calathea Exotica vs Setosa as they share commonalities. These two plants are incredibly similar and would be easy to confuse for one another. The only real, distinguishable difference is the design on their leaves. While the Calathea Setosa has wide, spread-out stripes on their leaves – the calathea exotica’s stripes are slender and more closely situated.

Calathea Exotica vs Setosa

Why Choose a Calathea Setosa?

The Calathea Setosa benefits are wide-ranging and offer more than just providing your home with green loveliness via their impressive and exceptional foliage. This interesting plant works wonders at creating a healthy environment inside your four walls by purifying the air, providing fresh oxygen, clearing out dust, and providing healing elements to those who suffer from common ailments such as allergies or dry skin. 

It is important to note that the Calathea Setosa is considered moderate to difficult when it comes to its maintenance. We will discuss some of the essentials as far as your Calathea Setosa indoor care goes to make sure it stays as healthy as possible!


The Calathea Setosa was born in the jungles and lush forests of Brazil. These tropical plants act as ground cover at the bottom of the South American forest floors. These tough plants receive only indirect light as the billowy leaves from the trees towering ahead filter the sunrays. The canopy of trees provides ample shade for our leafy friends. With their history in mind, the Calathea Setosa will do best with medium and indirect light, and they can do well in low-light homes. 

Direct Sunlight for Calathea Setosa

As a warning, you should be cautious of direct sun exposure for your Calathea Setosa. The intricate patterns on the Calathea Setosa leaves will tend to fade if they are in light that is too bright or even too dim. If these plants are exposed to direct light, for even a short amount of time, you may notice the Calathea Setosa leaves curling or browning as they are easily burned and sensitive to intense sunlight. 

Calathea Setosa are a bit finicky when it comes to just how much light they need or don’t need. These shade-lovers do well if you aim for indirect light for at least 8 hours a day, and make sure they have 8 hours of no light. Once you have your new plant home, try out different levels of light to see what works best for your new house member. As with almost all plants, you should be sure to rotate your Calathea Setosa every few months as it grows toward the sunlight.

Low-Light Environment

No natural light in your home? No problem. A low-wattage bulb can provide just the amount of medium light the Calathea Setosa needs to be healthy and happy. 

calathea setosa Pin
Calathea Setosa via Imgur


This is a plant that loves humidity, and therefore Calathea Setosa humidity conditions are paramount. All the Ctenanthe species love moisture and require a great deal of humidity to flourish. As discussed earlier, this plant was born in the rainforests of South America which is an intensely humid environment. Therefore, you want to ensure your Never Never Plant stays far away from a dry setting. 

What if I Live in a Dry Region?

It may seem intimidating to care for a tropical plant if you live in drier regions, but it is possible. If you often have your air conditioning running and your home has little to no humidity, you may need to take extra steps to provide the perfect atmosphere for your Calathea Setosa to survive. You can help create an ideal humid environment for your plant by grouping it with other plants or investing in a humidifier if necessary.

If you live in a dry region such as a desert or arid climate, you should take extra precautions when it comes to caring for your Calathea Setosa. You will notice that even just small, limited exposure to humidity can have a negative and lasting impact on your Calathea Setosa. If you are familiar with other tropical plants, however, you most likely have humidifiers and areas in your home that promote humidity for these moisture-loving plants. If so, your Calathea Setosa will be no different than your other humidity-loving plants.

Ideal Humidity for Calathea Setosa

Ideally, you want your Calathea Setosa to be exposed to 60% humidity or higher. These plants can do well in as low as 50% humidity, but you do not want to go much lower then that. Leaf curling is one tell-tell sign your Calathea Setosa is not exposed to enough humidity. 


Calathea Setosa water requirements are no surprise for a tropical plant. You want to be sure your Calathea Setosa is watered regularly in small amounts; a couple of times a week should be enough for your plant. Water your Calathea Setosa until water drips from the bottom of its pot, but make sure it does not sit in water. It’s also important to keep in mind, like with any plant, not to overwater.  

How to Tell if My Calathea Setosa Has Adequate Water

You want to keep an eye on how your plant is doing on its water intake. Every few days, you should check your Calathea Setosa soil by inserting your finger at the top of its soil, about 5 cm down. If you notice the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry, then its time to give your plant some more water. 

Your Calathea Setosa’s potting soil should never be completely dry, but you also want to make sure it does not become waterlogged. Too much water could be devastating for your Calathea Setosa by leading to fungal problems and root rot – which are all too common with this plant. 

Cleaning Your Calathea Setosa with Water

Water for your Calathea Setosa also includes wiping it down with fresh water from time to time. With most plants, it is important to keep their leaves clean and free of dust and dirt. The Calathea Setosa is no exception. Regularly taking a damp towel and wiping the leaves of your plant will help to keep it in optimal health and tip-top shape. Wiping the leaves of your plant will help it breathe better, so it can help you breathe better. We call that a win-win!

Water Intake & Seasons

In winter, your Calathea Setosa will require less water, and you will most likely be cutting back on watering. Instead of a couple times a week, you will most likely be watering your plant once every 7 to 10 days. Again, regular soil checks with poking the soil with your finger should let you know what your Calathea Setosa needs. 

Ensuring your Calathea Setosa stays moist, yet not water soaked is vital to having the healthiest version of this water-loving plant. 


You want to mimic the Calathea Setosa’s natural environment as best as you can. An ideal temperature range for your exotic plant sits between 55-85°F. Your Calathea Setosa will begin to stress if the temperature falls below 55 degrees, so it is important your plant is always in a moderately warm climate. Think of it this way: it does well with temperatures we are comfortable in, which makes this a bit easier. 

Cold / Hot Regions Effect on Calathea Setosa

If you do not live in a climate-controlled environment, it may be best to reconsider bringing home a Calathea Setosa. Unless, of course, the region you live in stays moderate all year long. If your Calathea Setosa gets stressed from cooler temperatures, it will be difficult for them to recover fully, and you certainly don’t want that. 

The sweet spot for your Calathea Setosa is somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees, but you can give or take 10 degrees if necessary.


As we discussed, keeping your Calathea Setosa moisturized is important for its health and quality of life. While this plant is moderately easy to care for, its water maintenance proves too often be the most challenging for plant owners. Therefore, well-draining soil is optimal for your Calathea Setosa. This ensures that your plant can keep moisturized but also help to ensure it is not sitting in water. (Again, if your Calathea Setosa sits in water – it could cause a slew of fungal problems that are hard to return from.)


It is most common that with large leaves, such as the Calathea Setosa, these types of plants require semi-regular feeding during their growing season. You will want to feed your Calathea Setosa with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks, diluting it to half its strength. 

During the Fall and Winter months, your Calathea Setosa will not need to be fertilized as your plant’s growing is halted during these colder seasons. 

The Rundown on How to Care for Calathea Setosa

The Calathea Setosa is a versatile and stunning plant. While they do require a bit more TLC than other house plants, their pleasing and unique appearance, and air purification make having these plants as additions to your home worth the extra bit of care they require. As long as you are able to provide the environment needed for these special plants, you will not be disappointed.

If you are looking for a low maintenance plant, the Calathea Setosa is most likely not the one for you. The Calathea Setosa is probably not the best fit should you be new to the game of owning house plants as they require a bit more attention and experimentation. 

If you are able to provide your Calathea Setosa with a humid environment, with indirect sunlight, and regular watering – you should be able to keep this plant happy and healthy!

Ctenanthe setosa Pin
Ctenante Setosa via Imgur

Calathea Setosa FAQ

What is the Ideal Calathea Setosa or Ctenanthe Setosa Repotting Period?

Your Calathea or Ctenante Setosa should be repotted once every 1-2 years in the Springtime season. 

Is the Calathea Setosa Toxic to Cats?

No. The Calathea or Calathea Setosa is cat-friendly. 

Is the Ctenanthe Setosa Toxic to Dogs?

No. The Calathea or Ctenanthe Setosa is dog-friendly.

What Are Calathea Setosa Drooping Causes?

Your Calathea or Ctenanthe Setosa may droop because of too much exposure to sunlight, heat, and/or water. As discussed, the conditions need to be ideal for your plant to really thrive. If your Calathea Setosa or Ctenanthe Setosa is left in direct sun for too long, it can cause drooping almost instantly. The same could be said if your plant is sitting in water.

The environment can cause Calathea Setosa drooping if there is a lot of sunlight, arid or elevated temperatures, or lack of or too much water.

How Tall Will The Calathea or Calathea Setosa Get?

You may wonder about the Calathea or Ctenante Setosa height outlook. On average, this mid-sized plant grows to about 6 inches all the way to 3 feet tall. It is important to keep in mind where your Calathea Setosa is housed – this plays a crucial factor in just how tall it will grow. It can either limit and stunt your Calathea Setosa or provide an optimal area for it to flourish to be quite large!

This plant is not towering, but it is also not known to be small either. It can make the perfect medium-sized plant for your home. 

Ctenanthe setosa flower Pin
Ctenante Setosa Flower

Does the Calathea Setosa Flower?

Yes, but it is rare and not impressive. It is wise to not count on flowers being the star of the show for the Ctenante Setosa. While the Ctenanthe Setosa is known for its stunning, unique leaves – it is not looked at as a flowering plant. However, if grown in good conditions, it can produce white or yellow flowers. So, on the off chance your Calathea Setosa does flower, do not expect them to be significant. These stunners are known for their unique, exquisite foliage – not their flowers. 

What Do I Need to Know About Calathea Setosa Propagation?

If you have a mature Calathea Setosa, then you are easily able to propagate it in a way that is not too challenging. Propagation is best in the Springtime when you are repotting your Calathea Setosa. You will want to divide at the roots and pot each one separately. Fortunately, propagation is easier than maintenance for your Calathea Setosa! 

All in all, the Calathea Setosa would make the perfect addition to your home if you are able to provide the optimal conditions and maintenance for it. The Calathea Setosa is a stunning plant, and if you follow the advice above – you will undoubtedly have a thriving one!

Where to Buy the Calathea Setosa

If you are interested in owning your own Calathea Setosa or want to check the price, the Calathea Setosa is available for sale from different sellers on Amazon or Etsy.

Click Here to Check Price on Amazon

Click Here to Check Price on Etsy

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