Tips for Caring Your Calathea Ornata

We’ve all been there with calatheas – they’re a tricky, finicky species of houseplant and sometimes they just die, seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s not your fault and doesn’t mean you’re a bad plant parent – it just means there are certain things you may be able to do differently, in order to make sure you’re giving your Calathea Ornata the best possible chance to not only survive, but thrive!

Beginning with The Basics of Calathea Ornata Care

So, you saw those pink stripes against the green leaves and decided you just have to take this plant home. We get it! Calathea Ornata, also known as pinstripe plants, definitely live up to their name.

They are identified by their ornate, beautiful, and bright pink fine lines that spread across their leaves – a show-stopping addition to any plant fanatic’s collection.

calathea ornata care
Calathea Ornata in Pot

When adding any new plant to your collection, it is important to look up their ideal environment, so you can understand if your home will be a good fit for that particular plant. Some plants prefer the atmosphere a bit drier, while others are big fans of humidity – and calatheas are definitely lovers of all things humid.

If you are ever unsure about the living requirements of a plant you are interested, be sure to ask one of the employees at the nursery or plant shop you are frequenting.

1. Humidity – A Calathea’s Best Friend 

As we mentioned above, Calatheas typically love, love, love humidity. It is important to keep this in mind before purchasing any humidity-heavy plant, because it may mean extra purchases or work on your end in order to keep those pink stripes popping.

Calatheas grow in tropical environments in the wild, so it is important to make sure you are mimicking their natural environment as much as possible. A great way to keep your Calathea happy and healthy is to purchase a humidifier and place your Calathea as close to said humidifier as possible.

This will add continual moisture to the air, just like your Calathea is used to.

Another option to keep your Calathea sparkling is to mist it daily. You can purchase a squirt bottle from any grocery or home store – simply fill it with water, turn the nozzle to the mist setting, and give your Calatheas a gentle little shower to start their day.

If possible, placing a humidity reader in the same room as the calathea is a great way to track the moisture in the air to make sure your calathea is getting the care it needs.

In most cases, calatheas enjoy being in an environment with a humidity reading of anywhere between 60-80%.

2. What Type of Temperature Does a Calathea Ornata Prefer?

As you may have guessed with their need for humidity, they significantly prefer warmer climates to those that are colder. In general, Calatheas typically like to live in an environment that hovers around approximately 65°F – 85°F, or 18°C – 20°C.

Because of this, it is important to make sure your indoor temperatures don’t drop lower than 60°F, or 15.5°C. 

calathea ornata care
Temperature Calathea Ornata

Because Calatheas are tropical plants, they are much more susceptible to cold drafts and sudden drops in temperature than some of your other houseplants may be. Make sure to monitor your Calathea Ornata to make sure it doesn’t start to decline, especially in colder months.

If your Calathea does start to decline due to a chill in the air, try moving it further away from the window to avoid drafts. Additionally, if you have radiator heat, make sure not to place your Calathea too close to your radiator, in order to avoid drying/burning the leaves.

3. What About Watering? How to Make Sure Your Calathea Doesn’t Drown or Go Thirsty?

Watering can also be a difficult factor to consider with any new plant. You obviously don’t want to over-water or neglect your plant to the point where its leaves shrivel up. So, where’s the happy medium?

Much like their atmosphere preferences, Calatheas also prefer a moist soil. This means you may be watering your Calatheas more than some of your other plants (for example, succulents or cacti).

Calatheas can take more water than most plants, but make sure to drain any excess water so your plant is not sitting in a puddle, as this could lead to root rot.

This can be done in a couple different ways, such as drilling a hole in the bottom of your pot to let water drain out at every watering or placing rocks at the bottom of your pot to allow excess water to trickle through the crevices and settle at the bottom.

If you ever notice that the soil is not observing water and is instead floating on top of the soil, that is a sign that you have likely over-watered your plant. In this case, simply tilt the pot sideways to allow the excess water to drip out.

4. Now, Let’s Talk Lighting

As aforementioned above, Calatheas are tropical plants – which means they typically enjoy being in the light! It’s a good rule of thumb to place your Calathea Ornata in bright indirect sunlight throughout the day, in order to make sure they are getting the light requirements that they need.

Lighting for Calatheas
Lighting Calathea Ornata

If you have a south facing window, this is the perfect spot for your Calathea Ornata. If not, a west facing window would be your second best option.

Indirect sunlight is best for Calatheas because they get just enough sunlight to thrive without getting burnt. While Calatheas enjoy sunshine, their leaves can still be a bit fragile and can burn or fade easily if they are in direct sunlight for too long.

5. Seeking The Right Soil? Here are Some Tips

At this point, you should have a good idea of just how particular Calatheas can be when it comes to living their best lives. Just like watering and lighting, you should make sure you have the right type of soil for your Calathea.

You already know that Calatheas enjoy moist soil, so it is important to make sure you pot these plants in a soil that will retain a lot of water. By planting your Calathea in a soil that allows it to breathe, the water will be able to flow more easily and keep your plant nice and damp.

calathea ornata care
Calathea Ornata Soil

If the soil is too heavy and compact, it won’t allow for much aeration, and therefore may suffocate the plant by not allowing water to reach the roots. Soil with perlite, moss, or mulch included within would be a great option for Calatheas, as they are permeable and will allow water to flow seamlessly to the roots.

If your Calathea is already potted in a soil that doesn’t have great water retention, you’ll just have to make sure you’re watering your plant more often.

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6. I Have A Pet – Are Calathea Ornata Pet Friendly Plants?

If you’re a fan of Calatheas and you also have a furry friend or two, you’re in luck – Calatheas are perfectly safe for pets! Therefore, you won’t have to worry if a rambunctious cat or dog *accidentally* ingests one of the leaves.

If you have any fur babies, it is always a good rule of thumb to research the toxicity of any new plant you bring into your home, as well as the potential side effects, should a leaf be ingested.

Some plants are more toxic than others, so you should always cover your bases to make sure you aren’t bringing anything into your home that could be fatal to your pets.

Fortunately, with Calatheas, you can feel confident placing your new plant anywhere in your home, without fearing an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office.

7. My Calathea Ornata Isn’t Looking Too Hot – What Can I Do to Rehabilitate It?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Calatheas can be one of the trickiest types of houseplants to keep alive. They’re beautiful, but they can drive you crazy. They’re also one of the more dramatic houseplants, so they’ll definitely let you know when they aren’t feeling their best.

Some warning signs that you may need to tweak the care of your Calathea include:

  • Browning leaves
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Crispy leaves
  • Fading of the pink pinstripes (less vibrancy or turning white)

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that your plant is a goner – you still may be able to turn it around and watch as your Calathea Ornata flourishes!

If your leaves are browning or yellowing, this is typically a sign that the environment is too dry for your plant. Crispy leaves typically indicate that your plant is too dry, as well. If this occurs, you can try misting the leaves more often (we recommend misting Calatheas daily), placing the plant by a humidifier, or putting it outside/in front of an open window (as long as you live in a warm and humid area).

This may also be an indication that your plant needs to be watered more often, but be sure not to overdo it.

If the pink on your Calathea Ornata’s leaves start to fade or turn white, this is typically a sign that your plant is receiving too much sunlight. If this occurs, you can try moving your Calathea to an area with a little more shade, in order to see if the colors begin to bounce back.

8. I Think My Calathea Might Have Pests – How Can I Tell?

While Calatheas aren’t necessarily prone to pests, they do run the risk of picking them up, just like any other houseplant. If you already know you have a pest outbreak on one or more of your other houseplants, make sure to isolate them until they’re disease-free, so they don’t infect your Calathea or any other plants.

There are many ways in which your Calathea might pick up pests – for example, they may have already had them at the nursery or plant shop where you purchased it, they might have jumped over from another plant, or they may have even come in through an open window.

Whatever the case may be, there are fortunately solutions for getting rid of these pesky pests.

The most common pests to infect Calatheas Ornata include:

  • Spider mites
  • Mealy bugs
  • Scale
  • Aphids

Calathea Ornata with Spider Mites

If your Calathea does have a pest, it is most likely spider mites. Spider mites are microscopic, so it is likely you won’t see the pests themselves, but you may see their webbing. Spider mites are tiny red arachnids that get their nutrients from sucking the sap out of plant leaves.

This, in turn, causes the leaves to fall off and die, which could ultimately kill your plant. Signs of spider mites include drooping leaves and white flaky webbing over the leaves and stems, which may look like dust.

If you believe your Calathea has spider mites or another pest, make sure you are washing and/or wiping the leaves often, in order to knock off the unwanted visitors.

This can be done with a garden hose or shower head.

You can also coat the Calathea’s leaves with neem oil, which is a natural pesticide. If these efforts don’t prove to be fruitful and your Calathea is still struggling, there are stronger pesticides that should do the trick.

Be sure to check at your local nursery, plant shop, or home improvement store (such as Lowe’s or Home Depot) for Calathea or houseplant specific pesticides.

Final Thought

As you delve into the world of Calathea Ornata care, prepare to be enchanted by its mesmerizing beauty. Nurturing this captivating plant is an art that rewards you with lush foliage and striking patterns. From its graceful leaf movements to the joy of watching it thrive, the journey of caring for Calathea Ornata is a magical one.

Embrace the challenge with love and patience, and your efforts will be repaid with a living work of art that brings a touch of nature’s elegance to your home. So, let the adventure begin, and let the dance of Calathea Ornata leaves captivate your heart and soul.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it normal for your Calathea Ornata to “bow” or “curtsy”?

Of course! Your plant communicates through its leaves. Bowing or curtsying is a response to changes in light and humidity, a charming display of its adaptability and a gentle reminder to provide the ideal environment.

Why do the leaves of your Calathea Ornata move at different times of the day?

Ah, the leaf dance! Your Calathea Ornata showcases a fascinating phenomenon called “nyctinasty,” where its leaves fold up at night and open in the morning. This is its way of embracing the sun’s energy during the day and conserving moisture at night, like a graceful leaf ballet.

Why does your Calathea Ornata’s color fade over time?

As leaves age, their vibrant colors may fade naturally. However, ensure it’s not exposed to direct sunlight or harsh lighting, which can accelerate color loss. Keep it in indirect light to preserve its captivating beauty.

How often should you repot your Calathea Ornata?

Repot your Calathea Ornata every 1-2 years, preferably during the growing season. Use a pot that’s one size larger and fresh, well-draining soil. Repotting allows its roots to breathe and promotes continued growth.

Are you ready to get started with your Calathea Ornata?

At this point, you should have everything you need to give your Calathea Ornata the environment it needs to live, grow, and flourish in your home.

While Calatheas may be a slightly more difficult houseplant to take care of than some others, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible! With these tools we’ve compiled, we are confident in your ability to give your new houseplant a happy and healthy life.

For more houseplant tips and tricks, be sure to follow our blog!

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