Guide to Growing Calathea Ornata at Home

Calathea Ornata on a beige pot

Calathea Ornata, known as pinstripe plant or prayer plant, is a tropical plant often grown as a houseplant. Its striped leaves make it unusual and visually appealing for any interior setting. Calathea has more than 300 different cultivars between dozens of species, which Ornata is a popular one. The plants have gorgeous oval leaves with beautiful patterns and red or purple on the underside.

Calathea’s native habitat is tropical Africa, the West Indies, Thailand, Central America, and South America. It grows on the tropical forest floor in semi-shade. The plant generally grows about two feet high and two feet wide, ideal for a houseplant. It is a genus in the family Marantaceae, the arrowroot family. It’s closely related to Calathea Zebrina, or zebra plant, another popular cultivar in the arrowroot family.


Why Calathea Ornata Make Great Houseplants?

A pot of Calathea plant seated on the table

Calathea Ornata, a pinstripe plant, makes a great houseplant for many reasons. It has beautiful, unique foliage with pink stripes, it’s easy to care for, and it is a good size for most interior spaces. 

Prayer plant grows in bright indirect light but will adapt to lower light conditions if otherwise well-cared for. They make unique focal points in any interior setting, with color and interesting leaf shapes. They are slow-growing; they won’t outgrow their pot or their space.

For overall ease of care, slow growth, and attractive appearance with dark green leaves, Calathea makes a great houseplant to brighten any interior space.


Where to Place Calathea Ornata in Your Home?

Woman holding a pot Calathea plant

Since Calatheas are tropical plants, they need to be kept warm. They should not be placed somewhere near a draft, a vent, or an airflow. The temperature should be between 60 and 80 degrees; otherwise, the plant will not do well.

You will want to take light into consideration as well when deciding where to place Calathea Ornata in your home. It shouldn’t be in direct sunlight in front of a window or directly under bright plant lights. It needs only bright indirect light, or low light, to stay healthy and thrive.

If the room the plant is in is not warmer than 60 degrees, you may still be able to keep your plant warm enough. You may also be able to warm the area around the plant by using a warm overhead light that is shaded so that it does not cast direct sunlight on the plant.

The Calathea plants are unique and beautiful foliage plants that make great statement plants. Please put them in a prominent area like to the side of a fireplace, on an ornamental plant stand in the middle of a wall, or in a corner with a spotlight. Placing them as the centerpiece of a room will add drama and flair to your space.


How to Care for a Calathea Ornata

A pot of Calathea Ornata

Your Calathea Ornata is a beautiful houseplant whose green leaves are striped pink or white. You will want to take care of it, so it grows well, stays healthy, and is long-lived. Follow these guidelines to take care of your beautiful Calathea Ornata:


How Often Should You Water Calathea Ornata? 

A pot of Calathea white star plant

Although Calatheas are tropical plants, they should not be watered too often. Do not let them sit in waterlogged soil. Let the soil dry out somewhat between watering, but keep consistent soil moisture.

Water about every week or so. Keep a notebook and write down the date each time you water your plant so you can keep track and don’t overwater. Using a moisture meter to see how dry or wet the soil is in the pot will also help.

Reduce water in the winter months when plants are not actively growing.


Calathea Ornata Humidity As tropical plants

Closeup picture of Calathea Ornata leaf

Calatheas need more humidity than is normally in the average house. For this reason, you will need to pay attention to ensure the plant is in a humid environment with moist soil. If leaves turn brown or yellow, they may be too dry and need more humidity. You can put it in a tray with pebbles and water that you keep filled. You can put a humidifier near it. Or you can spray it daily with a water spray bottle.


Temperature Requirements Of Calathea Ornata

A hand holding a thermometer

Calatheas need warmth and should be kept at 65 and 75 degrees. Keep your plant in a warm room without drafts, breezes, or air vents that could blow on it. Please don’t keep it in any room where you leave the heat off or low in the winter. If you don’t have a warm enough space, place a heat lamp or heat source nearby for consistent warmth.


Fertilizing Calathea Ornata

Closeup image of pink and green stripes of Calathea Ornata leaf

Calathea Ornata has minimal fertilizing needs. A general houseplant fertilizer will do fine, feeding just once a month during active growth. Then cut back to half the amount every other month or less in winter. Be careful not to over-fertilize, using the amounts that the fertilizer container recommends. Writing down when you fertilize will help avoid fertilizing too much and damaging your plant.


Soil for the Calathea Ornata

One hand holding soil

Although Calathea is a slow-growing plant, it needs to be repotted at least every two years. It should be repotted to a slightly larger pot. Use peaty, well-drained soil, adding perlite or sand. Organic matter will help feed the plant and reduce the need for strong fertilizer. A kitchen composter like Lomi by Pela will keep you stocked with organic matter for your Calathea.

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Light requirements of Calathea Ornata

Green Calathea Ornata leaves with white stripes

Calathea Ornata needs bright indirect light, but never direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn the plant’s leaves and eventually kill it. Don’t place it in front of a southern-facing window. If you only have a very low light space for your plant, you will need to add artificial lighting, but don’t place the plant directly under strong plant lights. A room with a lot of natural light that is filtered through shades or curtains is ideal.


How do I Keep Calathea Ornata Happy?

It’s not difficult to keep Calathea Ornata happy and thriving if the right light, water, temperature, and humidity conditions are met.

Here are a few other things to pay attention to when taking care of your pinstripe plant:


Diseases and Pests

A spider mite on top of a leaf

Calatheas are prone to spider mites and mealybugs, two insect pests that are annoying indoors and can eventually kill plants if not eliminated. Spider mites are tiny spiders that you’ll see on the leaves with fine webbing. They can be red, green, yellow, or brown. They swarm in large numbers and breed very fast, feeding on leaves. Mealybugs are tiny round grayish bugs that suck the juices out of plants.

Spider mites can be controlled and eliminated in several ways, but it’s important to take action as soon as you see insects. To suffocate the mites, you can clean the leaves with soapy water in a spray bottle. Another effective solution is to wipe the leaves with rubbing alcohol. You can also spray neem oil or rosemary oil on the insects to kill them.

Mealybugs are soft-bodied bugs but cover themselves and their eggs in wax for protection. They settle in plant nooks and crannies where it’s hard to reach to apply solutions. If you only see a few mealybugs, swab them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. If you find a significant infestation, you may use a systemic insecticide that makes the plant toxic to the bugs.

If you see either spider mites or mealybugs, take action immediately to treat your plant. Then follow up in two weeks with treatment again, and watch the plant for any further signs of insects.


Repotting and Propagation

Woman putting some soil on a pot

Because Calatheas grow slowly, you won’t need to repot more than once every couple of years. If you see roots growing out of the bottom of the pot, it’s time to move your pinstripe plant to a bigger pot.

When you repot your plant, you can either repot it in a bigger pot or separate the roots and plant sections to start new plants. The best time to separate Calatheas is in the spring when it is beginning to grow after the winter rest.

When you are ready to separate your Calathea, gently take the plant out of its pot. Pull a section of plant and roots away from the root ball and whole plant. To start new plants, you can just take one section out or separate the whole plant into three or four sections. Pot up the separated parts in their containers and water them well to get established in moist soil.


Pruning and Maintenance

Two pruning shears with other gardening tools

Remove any dead or dried-out leaves to keep your pinstripe plant looking nice and avoid attracting pests. Calatheas do not require pruning to keep their size under control. This is accomplished by separating the plant. Allowing your Calathea Ornata plant to grow larger and repotting it or dividing it to keep it the same size will keep it in good condition.


Troubleshooting Calathea Ornata


Why Are The Leaves On My Calathea Turning Yellow?

Yellowing edges of Calathea leaves

Yellow leaves are a sign of stress. Dry conditions, not enough light (or direct sunlight), or not enough warmth can all stress Calathea and cause problems with the leaves.


Is Calathea Ornata Poisonous To Humans And Pets? 

Calathea plant leaves

The Calathea Ornata plant is not toxic to humans or pets, but fertilizers and pesticides applied to or contained within the plant may be.


Consider Growing Calathea Ornata

Consider growing the Calathea Ornata plant. It is a beautiful and unique tropical houseplant that is not difficult to grow if you pay attention to its growing conditions. It is easy to separate into new plants to enjoy or share with friends and family. It is slow-growing, and it won’t outgrow its space in your home or office.

If you want unique color and greenery, the pinstripe plant is what you’re looking for!