Calathea makoyana is an evergreen perennial, growing to 45cm (18 in), with round, pale, glossy green leaves. The upper surfaces of the leaves are marked with dark green blotches along the veins. The lower surfaces are coloured deep purple, with leaf shafts that are very thin. When new leaves grow they are rolled up and display pinkish-red undersides. Like others in the genus, it has a horizontal soil stem from which the plants grow up and the roots develop.