Goeppertia rufibarba

Family: Marantaceae

Countries: Brazil, South America

Goeppertia rufibarba is a perennial that can be found in the wild growing in the wet tropical biome of North East Brazil.  Plants have handsome rippled leaves that emerge as pale lime green in colour and become a darker shade of green with a hint of blue tone, fairly quickly as they age and mature.  This is a tender plant that makes a superb houseplant for warm rooms that are blessed with bright but indirect sunlight.

Goeppertia rufibarba is also known as Calathea rufibarba, and by the common names of Velvet Calathea and Furry Feather Plant, due to the silky-soft, velvety undersides of the plants’ leaves.  If you’ve not met this plant in person and you haven’t yet touched the undersides of its leaves, you absolutely must!  Goeppertia rufibarba leaves have a thin texture.  The top side of the leaves are dark green and the undersides of the leaves are a chocolate-maroon colour.  The undersides of the leaves feel surprisingly soft, smooth and silky; the texture has a very luxurious feel.  Every new Goeppertia rufibarba leaf that emerges soon develops the plant’s familiar handsome, rippled form.

These plants require a very humid environment.  If Goeppertia rufibarba is grown in an area that’s too dry and arid, the plant will very quickly display brown, dried out leaf tips.  In fact, the plant’s newest leaves will die back completely if Goeppertia rufibarba is exposed to too dry an atmosphere.  Goeppertia rufibarba will flourish in a warm room that enjoys bright but indirect light and also provides the high humidity levels this plant needs.

When deciding where to place your Goeppertia rufibarba plant, choose a position away from external doors and cold draughts.  It’s also important to avoid growing Goeppertia rufibarba anywhere near open fires, stoves, fans, or anything that removes moisture from the air.  This plant will rapidly decline if grown on a shelf above an operational radiator.   For optimum growing conditions, group Goeppertia rufibarba together with other houseplants that thrive in similar growing conditions; mist your plants’ leaves, and place your Goeppertia rufibarba plant’s container on top of a plastic tray full of pebbles and topped up with water; as this will provide your plant with the humidity levels it desires.

Plants need regular watering and should be watered before the top layer of compost has completely dried out.  If you push your finger into your plant’s compost and you can feel that the growing media is drying out it’s time to water.  Ideally it’s best to use tepid water and to water your plants in the morning.  Goeppertia rufibarba will need smaller quantities of water in wintertime.

Goeppertia rufibarba is a tender plant that will be killed by cold temperatures.  The ideal temperature range for Goeppertia rufibarba plants is from 18C to 25C (65F-80F).  The minimum winter night time temperature for Goeppertia rufibarba is 16C (60F).  Goeppertia rufibarba grows up to around 60cm (24inches) tall and about 45cm (18inches) wide.

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