Rattlesnake Plant: Welcome to the Jungle - Absolute Gardener

Rattlesnake Plant: Welcome to the Jungle

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rattlesnake plant

It’s rattlesnake plant season and if you’re like me, rattlesnake plants are your favorite. The rattlesnake plant is not a true rattler snake, but it does have rattley leaves that shake in the wind. That’s where they get their name! In the Bay Area we have two main varieties:

1) Hanging rattlesnake plants (aka Christmas vine), which is a great option for growing on a porch or patio. These vines grow up to 20 feet tall with bright green leaves and white flowers. They bloom from April through November depending on how hot it is so be sure to keep them watered!

2) Rattlesnakes, aka baby rattlers, can also be grown right inside your house near windows as they don’t need much sunlight. Because rattlesnakes only grow 8-12 inches tall, these plants are perfect for people with a small space.

Rattlesnake plants are cool! They grow in some of the harshest conditions, like dry habitats and high altitudes. Let’s talk about how to care for rattlesnake plant so you can enjoy them all summer long.

What is Rattlesnake Plant?

The rattlesnake plant (Dryopteris expanse a) is perennial hardwood ground cover. I am also called oak fern because it resembles the leaves of an oak tree, and evergreen fern, because its foliage does not change with the seasons like other plants, do (though this doesn’t make them any less colorful). This is also why rattlesnake plants are often called “jungle fern” or “Florida moss.”

These rattlesnakes are not to be trifled with, so beware of this plant’s prickly nature and don’t get too close! One of rattlesnake plants’ most impressive features is how they can withstand all types of weather conditions. No matter if you live in a hot dry climate or a cold damp one, the rattlesnake plant will thrive.

It has adapted to the desert climate by developing rattling leaves that shake in the wind and thick fleshy green stems with long, thin spines on them. With its wide variety of colors from yellow, orange, pink, or red it will make any garden stand out!

The rattlesnake plant has been used for centuries as an ornamental plant in gardens all over the world because of its hardiness and ability to thrive despite less than ideal conditions. In addition to rattlesnake plant’s attractiveness, it has a multitude of medicinal uses. People in the Amazonian rainforest have used rattlesnake plant for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and diuretic.

rattlesnake plant

Origins of Rattlesnake Plant

The rattlesnake plant aka Calathea lancifolia is a succulent that originates from South Africa. It’s primarily found in the Western Cape region, but can be cultivated elsewhere with some success.

Its common name derives from its resemblance to rattlesnakes and its tendency to grow like them: tall and narrow, much like a rattler coiled to strike. The rattlesnake plant is anchored in the ground by a large, fibrous root system that looks like a big tangle of snakes and can grow up to three feet tall.

The rattlesnake plant’s leaves are thick, fleshy, and triangular-shaped with sawtooth edges along their margins, which provide good protection from the sun.

The rattlesnake plant is a pioneer species that colonizes bare, dry ground quickly and provides an immediate source of food for other animals in the area. The rattlesnake plant is also known as a living fossil, having changed little since the Jurassic era. Its leaves are a favorite food of tortoises and it’s often found in areas that provide shelter for these animals–such as rocky outcrops or shrubland–which may have contributed to its longstanding popularity among gardeners.

Calathea Rattlesnake Plant Care Guide

The rattlesnake plant is a rare houseplant that requires moist soil, bright light, and continuous water to thrive. If you’re thinking rattlesnakes, but not sure where to start – that’s ok! We have some guides on rattlesnake plant indoor care how to keep them happy so they’ll last all summer.


Rattlesnake plant needs rich soil. Be careful not to overwater rattlesnakes and let them dry out completely between watering.

Potting Soil: The best potting soil for rattlesnake plants is a mix of sand, peat moss, and loam or compost (or any combination thereof). Potting soil can be bought at any garden store. If rattlesnakes are in a pot, they should have about one inch of the mix for every rattlesnake plant inside it. If rattlesnakes are grown in flowerpots and hanging baskets, then potting soil needs to go around them as well.

In the homemade potting mix, rattlesnake plant soil should have at least one gallon of soil per rattlesnake plant, and the ratio of sand: peat moss: loam or compost is about two to three parts sand for every part peat moss (or compost or loam).

Rattlesnake plant light requirements

The rattlesnake plant does not tolerate direct sunlight. It should be placed in a high, indirect light spot or filtered sun outside. If the rattlesnake plant is kept indoors without any natural light, it will need to be supplemented with artificial lighting that mimics the intensity of midday lighting.


Regular watering of rattlesnake plants will help keep them happy and healthy. One way to tell if rattlesnake plants need water is if rattlesnakes plant’s leaves start to droop.

If you want your rattlesnake plant to grow more quickly, try watering it twice a week. If you’re in an area that doesn’t get much rain, or if there has been little rainfall recently, then rattlesnake plants may need watering every day or two.


The rattlesnake plant does not like the cold. In order to keep it warm, you need to make sure that your home is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The rattlesnake plant can grow in a wide range of natural temperatures, but they prefer much warmer conditions than most other plants — so be careful when relocating it in the winter.


rattlesnake plantRattlesnake plants are native to the New World tropics, and they need a humid environment for optimal health. In most rattlesnakes’ habitats, there is plenty of water from rain or rivers nearby that helps keep their humidity levels up. If you live in an arid area with low humidity, you may need to increase the humidity in your rattlesnake plant’s environment.

If you do not have enough humidity for your rattlesnake plant then this is what you should do: add more humidity to the room or plant your rattlesnake plant in a pot with a lot of water. There are lots of different ways to increase the humidity in your rattlesnake plant’s home. The most common solutions are a humidifier, water spraying bottle, and pebbles on top of the soil to help with drainage.


The rattlesnake plant needs to be fertilised with a natural product that has all the nutrients it need because those are not present in the potting soil. Gardeners can choose from natural products such as fish emulsion or seaweed-based fertilisers. Fertilising should happen once every six weeks and then every four to six months depending on how often the rattlesnake plant is watered

Always use a diluted solution of fertiliser when adding it to the rattlesnake plants’ soil. The most common mistake gardeners make when caring for rattlesnake plants is overusing and using, this will create an imbalance in their care which will greatly decrease the rattlesnake plants lifespan.


Rattlesnake plants come with the warning: “Death and severe injury may result from contact!” They are a symbolic plant of rattlesnakes. The name “rattler” comes from the sound it makes when shaken, which sounds like rattling rattles on stone. There is good news though! Rattlers are not poisonous, in fact, they are harmless!


You should prune rattlesnake plants in the winter or early spring before new growth. The rattlesnake plant will become weak and disfigured if you wait too long to cut it back. You want to trim about ½ inch off of the stems at a height that is comfortable for your body, not at the rattlesnake plant’s natural growing height. The rattlesnake plant is not a fast grower so do not be afraid to prune it back if you want more of its beautiful flowers in your garden.

Propagation and Growth

The rattlesnake plant does not grow from seeds. It is propagated by careful division of the root mass or rhizome in late winter or early spring when new growth has started to appear at its base. This should be done after a freeze, as this will kill any actively growing feeder roots that may have grown in the soil. Roots will grow from the new rattlesnake plants’ base.


rattlesnake plantFirst, fill the pot with a well-draining soil mix. Next, place the rattlesnake plant in the center of the pot then tamp down firmly to remove any air pockets from around rattlesnake leaves. Add more dirt on top and press down again so there are no air pockets left under rattlesnake leaves.

rattlesnake plant needs to be repotted every few years as the roots of rattlesnake plants grow deep and out, becoming root-bound in a small pot. A healthy rattlesnake plant should have plenty of new growth at this point, so when you’re done wait until it starts growing again before you repot again.

You can do this by carefully removing rattlesnake plant from the pot, looking down into the roots and cutting off any that are growing or heading in different directions for another planter. Next, trim away all of the dead leaves before transplanting rattlesnake plant back to a new home with a well-draining soil mix.

After rattlesnake plant is transplanted, water it thoroughly to help the roots settle in and then wait for new growth before repotting again.

Plant Disease

What rattlesnake plant disease should you look out for?

  • Fusarium Wilt – the rattlesnakes will begin turning brown from the bottom of their leaves upwards. If this happens, cut off these withering parts and discard them to prevent further infestation and spread
  • Powdery Mildew – a white, mealy-looking substance that will grow on rattlesnake plant leaves. This is a very common problem in humid environments or when rattlesnakes are kept too close to other houseplants
  • Blossom End Rot – this happens when the soil mix does not have enough water and minerals for rattlesnake plants to take in. The rattlesnakes will turn brown and wilt away
  • Root Rot – this is when the potting soil has become too wet or dry for rattlesnake plants to take in water, causing them to begin wilting from a lack of nutrients and moisture. This can be prevented by planting your rattlesnake plant in a well-draining soil mix and making sure the potting container is not sitting in water

Rattlesnake Plant Variegated

One of the most interesting rattlesnake plants is variegated. This variety often has leaves with a yellowish-green pattern on top and an ivory color underneath, which makes it stand out from other rattlesnake plant varieties in cultivation.

Variegated rattlers are also more tolerant to direct sun exposure than many other rattlesnake plant varieties in cultivation, which makes them a good choice if you live in an area where sunlight is abundant year-round.

Common Issues with Rattlesnake Plant

There are many common problems that you’ll want to keep in mind while taking care of rattler: too much watering (check how often you’re watering your rattlesnake plant), too little watering (check how often you’re watering your rattlesnake plant to avoid this), not enough light (rattlesnakes need a lot of light, so make sure it gets at least four hours of sun per day or else the rattles will turn brown), too much light (check how often you’re watering your rattlesnake plant to avoid this), and the wrong type of soil mix (rattles like well-draining potting mixes, make sure it is not too wet or dry for rattlers. Make sure the roots have enough room in there).

The rattler will also be susceptible to disease, such as fungal infections caused by a lack of ventilation. A rattlesnake plant is a lot to take care of, so be sure you’re prepared with the right equipment before deciding to grow one in your home.

Tips for Keeping Rattlesnake Plant Happy

rattlesnake plantThe rattlesnake plant flowers is not a delicate flower. You can’t just place it in the shade on the sidewalk and expect it to thrive. This rattlesnake plant needs sunshine and water to stay healthy and alive.

Here are some tips for caring for your rattlesnake plant:

  • Keep rattlesnake plants in an area with full sunlight.
  • Water rattlesnake plant by keeping the soil moist at all times. Add more water if you see too few leaves (this may be because the rattlesnake plant isn’t getting enough light).
  • Fertilize rattlesnake plant once a month with a liquid fertilizer, following label instructions for use.

Rattlesnake Plant Frequently Asked Questions

How do you take care of a rattlesnake plant?

Keep rattlesnake plant in a location with lots of light and water every two weeks. Once rattlesnake plant is established it will only need to be watered about once per week during the hottest times of year, or as needed for your specific climate. If you live in an area that rattlesnake plant cannot be planted outside, rattlesnake plant can thrive under artificial light indoors if you take care to make sure it is watered regularly.

Why does my rattlesnake plant move?

The rattlesnake plant is called such because the leaves are shaped in a manner that resembles rattles on an old-fashioned snake rattle. The rattling sound comes from each leaf gently rubbing against the other as they move with air currents. This movement, however, actually has little to do with why these plants have been given their name.

Are rattlesnake plants easy?

Rattlesnake calathea care is easy. If you want an easy rattlesnake plant, look for one that’s low-growing and has large leaves or stems with few spots on them.

Do rattlesnake plants pray?

Do rattlesnake plants pray? No, they don’t. But rattlesnakes do climb them! You’ll find rattlesnakes on the leaves of rattlesnake plants in tropical or sub-tropical regions like Florida and Costa Rica all the time.

Should I mist my rattlesnake plant?

Some rattlesnake plant owners wonder if they should mist their rattlesnake plants. Misting is a helpful way to keep your rattlesnake plant moist, but it can also cause fungus or rot in some cases. If you have the time and don’t mind getting on your hands and knees for long periods of time, then yes.

If you don’t have the time for that or want to make it easier on yourself, rattlesnake plant growers recommend using a humidity tray as an alternative method to keep your rattlesnake plants moist and happy.

How do you prune a rattlesnake plant?

A rattlesnake plant is a low-maintenance houseplant, which means it requires minimal pruning. You should cut off dead or dying leaves and flowers to help the rattlesnake plant stay healthy. Cutting back about an inch from where new stems grow will encourage branching and bushier growth within your rattlesnake plant!


rattlesnake plantThe rattlesnake plant is a beautiful addition to any home and can be found in different shapes, sizes, and colors. It would look perfect on your windowsill or next to the door waiting for you when you get home from work. The rattlesnake plant welcomes guests with its exotic appearance while it also provides them with a wonderful conversation starter. The rattlesnake plant is one of the best low-maintenance plants around, and you can’t go wrong with it! You may find rattlesnake plants for sale here. 

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