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How to care for a Calathea Ornata

The Calathea Ornata (also called the Calathea Pinstripe or Pinstripe plant) is a beautiful plant with pink stripes on its large green leaves. It's beautiful, but it can be a fussy plant and difficult to care for at times. We all know someone that has struggled to keep a Calathea healthy, let alone alive. So with this guide, we'll look at what you can do to keep these amazing, but stubborn, tropical plants healthy.

In this guide, we'll go over watering needs, preferred soil, light requirements, how and when to fertilize, humidity, common pests, and early signs your plant is struggling. If this plant has been difficult for you in the past, this is the guide for you. After we've gone through all of the steps below, you'll have everything you need to know to keep your Calathea(s) happy.

In this guide, we'll go over these aspects of taking care of a Calathea:

  1. Watering needs
  2. Soil for the Calathea Ornata
  3. Light requirements
  4. Fertilizing your Calathea Ornata
  5. Humidity
  6. How to propagate a Calathea Ornata
  7. Calathea and Pets
  8. Common pests
  9. Early signs of trouble
  10. Similar Calatheas

Now, let's get right into it and learn more about your Calathea.

Watering your Calathea

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All Calatheas (not just the Ornata) are humidity lovers. So this is a great plant to have if you're generally a person who overwaters other plants. The Calathea Ornata can take this amount of water. But there is a catch. When you're watering this plant, you should make sure to get rid of the excess water. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Plant the Calathea Ornata in the plastic nursery pot it came in and put that in the decorative pot.
  2. If you have a closed-off pot, tilt the plant sideways and let any excess water escape.

This step is important because while this plant loves to be moist, it doesn't like to sit in a puddle of water. This will cause root rot and that could kill the plant.

You should water this plant when the soil starts to dry out. This plant doesn't like to be in completely dry soil, so make sure to water it before it dries out too much. In the summer this means you should water this plant every week or every two weeks, depending on how dry the soil is. In the winter you can water this plant every two to four weeks, again, depending on how dry the soil is.

So to sum up the watering:

  1. Water plentiful, this plant loves to have moist soil at all times
  2. Let any of the excess water escape, this plant can't sit in a puddle

Soil for the Calathea Ornata

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As I've mentioned before, this plant loves to be in moist soil. This means that you should find soil that retains a lot of water. This way it can sit in moist soil for a long time and you won't have to water this plant as often. If you don't have any soil that's designed to retain water, that's not a problem. You'll just have to water the plant more often to keep the soil moist.

Because the soil needs to be moist most of the time, be sure to get soil that can breathe when it's moist. If you get soil that gets very heavy and compact, you might want to choose a different one. This soil won't let any air go to the roots and this will slowly suffocate the plant. Soil with bigger chunks and/or moss will be a great option for this, it holds water and lets air through.

Light requirements

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Calathea Ornata Light exposure

Calathea plants are tropical plants that grow on the ground under the shade of trees. This is their ideal sunlight exposure, so they should get low to medium sunlight throughout the day in your house. Keep them in a bright room with a thin curtain or some shade and you should be able to keep your plant happy. My Calathea Ornata is close to a big south-facing window and gets medium/indirect sunlight for most of the day. When your Calathea gets exposed to direct sunlight, the sensitive leaves will start to fade and get sunburned.

So in summary keep your Calathea Ornata in a low to medium bright spot where it gets indirect sunlight.

Fertilizing your Calathea Ornata

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Houseplants need a regular dose of fertilizer to stay healthy and look their best. The best time to fertilize is when the plant is actively growing, so for most plants that means fertilizing in the spring and summer. Fertilize your Calathea Ornata once every 14 days.

Dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, then pour it over the soil around the plant. Don't pour it directly on the leaves, as this can cause them to burn.

When you use a liquid fertilizer, it's much easier to control the dose of the fertilizer, which helps to prevent over fertilizing your Calathea. Over-fertilizing your Calathea could cause the roots to burn and this will slowly kill the plant. So make sure to follow the instructions that come with your liquid fertilizer.


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Calathea Ornata leaf in Leca

As I've mentioned in the sections about watering needs and preferred soil, this plant loves to be in a moist environment. Calatheas love humidity and become prone to pests when their leaves are getting too dry.

To mimic the tropical environment this plant thrives in, it needs a lot of humidity. If you have a humidifier, keep it close by and make sure your Calathea is in a humid environment.

If you don't know how to raise the humidity, you can read my guide on 10 ways to raise the humidity in your house. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't mist your Calathea Ornata, because it has very sensitive leaves.

How to propagate a Calathea Ornata

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Calathea Ornata propagation

Unlike many other plants, you can't take cuttings of a Calathea Ornata to propagate your plant. If you want to propagate your Calathea, you'll need to divide your plant at the root level. What this means is that you'll need to separate your Calathea Ornata once it has started growing a new plant from its roots.

You'll know your Calathea Ornata has grown a new plant in the same pot when new stems are coming up from the soil away from any existing stems. This is different from new leaves on the same plant because new leaves grow from existing stems. Your plant can also grow new stems, which will always come out of the soil right beside any existing stems. Stems on the same plant will tend to stick together.

Calathea and Pets

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A lot of houseplants can be harmful to pets and young children, but luckily Calatheas are not one of those plants. A Calathea, including the Calathea Ornata, is safe for pets and won't harm them when they chew your plant. Unlike many other plants, you can safely put this plant wherever you want to, without worrying about a doctor's visit.

Common pests

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The Calathea Pinstripe is prone to a few pests, like spider mites. With some regular maintenance, you should be able to keep this under control though. A way to treat this pest is to clean the leaves with a mixture of water and dish soap in a spray bottle. You can use this on the leaves and this will suffocate the pests on and in the leaves. Afterward, you can wipe the leaves and you should be set for the next few weeks. You should repeat this process every one to two weeks, just to make sure it doesn't spread too much.

Early signs of trouble

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Calathea Ornata crispy leaves

The Calathea Pinstripe can be a fussy plant. Luckily, there are many early warning signs that your Calathea isn't happy. These symptoms include brown and crispy leaves, leaves that start to turn yellow, and the pink strips fading to a white color. When this happens, it doesn't mean your Calathea is dying. It simply means the Pinstripe plant isn't getting the care it wants. When the leaves start to get brown or yellow, they might be in an environment that's too dry for the plant. In this case, make sure to mist your Calathea leaves daily or find another way to provide the Pinstripe plant with the humidity it needs.

When the pink stripes on the leaves start to fade to white, the plant is getting too much sunlight. Move it to a place that's a little more shaded and you'll see the difference.

Similar Calatheas

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There are a few Calatheas that have similar care needs as the Calathea Ornata. Below you'll find the Calatheas that I've personally tested with this plant care routine.

Calathea Triostar

Calathea Triostar

The Calathea Triostar is a Calathea that looks different than the Calathea Ornata, but it needs the same plant care routine.

It loves moist soil and needs a lot of humidity to be happy. Like the Calathea Ornata, it also grows its leaves rolled up. When the new leaves are big enough, they slowly unfold to show those large colorful leaves.


And that's all there is to it. The Calathea Ornata can be fussy, but once you stick to these guidelines you should be better prepared to take care of it. These guidelines will at least help you to recognize signs and offer solutions to help you keep your Calathea healthy and help it thrive.

The most important things to keep in mind about this beautiful plant are these:

  1. Keep the soil moist.
  2. Keep the plant in a humid environment.
  3. Give the plant low to medium, indirect sunlight.
  4. Plant it in soil that retains water well, but allows air to get to the roots.

These are the most important guidelines. Now you're ready to get out there and get one of these amazing plants. I hope they give you as much joy as they've given me. Calatheas truly are beautiful and they can even be easy to take care of...once you apply the tricks from this guide.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: calathea, humidity, pet-friendly

Posted on: Dec 13, 2019 Last updated on: Sep 3, 2022

Other common names for this plant

  • Pinstripe Plant
  • Pinstripe Calathea
  • Calathea Pinstripe
  • Pink pinstripe plant
  • Calathea Sanderiana

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Frequently asked questions

How often do I water the Calathea Ornata?
You have to make sure that the soil stays moist all the time. This plant loves humidity and likes to be in moist soil. So when it starts to dry out, it's time to water your Calathea.
How much light does a Calathea Ornata need?
The Calathea Ornata needs bright indirect light. A perfect spot is close to a south-facing window where it gets indirect sunlight. Make sure the Calathea doesn't get too much direct sunlight, otherwise the beautiful leaves will start to fade.
How do I get rid of pests on the Calathea Ornata?
To get rid of pests like spider mites, you should wash the leaves with soapy water on both sides. This will drown the spider mites and kill them.
What kind of soil does my Calathea Ornata need?
The Calathea Ornata loves moist soil, so make sure to get soil that retains water really well. Be sure the soil doesn't get too compacted over time. Air still needs to be able to reach the roots.
Should I mist a Calathea Ornata?
Misting your Calathea Ornata is a great way to keep the moisture levels high enough for this plant to stay healthy. Try to do this as often as you can.
Is a Calathea toxic to pets?
A Calathea is not toxic to pets and young children. So you can put it anywhere in your house and be rest assured it won't harm your pets or children.

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