Calathea Ornata Care Guide (Pinstripe Plant Care)

Calathea ornata, also known as the Pinstripe Plant or Pinstripe Calathea, is a stunning indoor plant that can add elegance and beauty to your home. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about caring for your Calathea ornata, from identifying the plant to dealing with common problems and keeping it healthy.

Calathea Ornata Quick Overview

FeatureInformation
Scientific NameCalathea ornata
Common NamePinstripe Plant
Light RequirementsMedium indirect light
Temperature Range65-75˚F (18-24˚C)
Humidity RequirementsHigh (above 50%)
Watering FrequencyWhen top 1-2″ of soil is dry
Soil RequirementsWell-draining, peaty mix
Fertilizing FrequencyMonthly in growing season
ToxicityNon-toxic

Identification

Calathea ornata is an easily identifiable plant due to its striking dark green leaves adorned with vibrant pink stripes, resembling pinstripes on a suit. The undersides of the leaves are a deep maroon color, adding to the plant’s visual appeal.

Calathea ornata belongs to the Marantaceae family and is closely related to other Calathea species like Calathea roseopicta and Calathea medallion.

Size

The Calathea ornata is a relatively small plant, reaching a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) when grown indoors. Its leaves are elongated, typically measuring 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) in length and about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) in width. As the plant matures, it forms a clump of leaves that emerge from the center, giving it a full, bushy appearance.

This plant has a moderate growth rate, and with proper care, it can reach its full size within a few years. When repotting or pruning, be cautious not to damage the delicate roots, as this may stunt the plant’s growth.

Light Requirements

Calathea ornata prefers medium indirect light, as direct sunlight can scorch its leaves and cause the vibrant colors to fade. Place your plant near a bright window with filtered light or use a sheer curtain to protect it from harsh sun rays. If your home doesn’t receive adequate natural light, consider using a grow light to supplement the plant’s light requirements.

Some ideal locations for your Calathea ornata include a north or east-facing windowsill, or a spot that receives bright but indirect light throughout the day. Keep in mind that too little light may cause the plant’s growth to slow and its leaves to lose their signature pinstripes.

Temperature Requirements

Calathea ornata thrives in temperatures between 65-75˚F (18-24˚C). It is sensitive to cold drafts and sudden temperature changes, so make sure to place it away from drafty windows, doors, or air vents. Additionally, avoid placing your plant near heat sources like radiators, as this can lead to leaf scorching and drying.

During the winter months, when indoor temperatures may drop, consider using a space heater or greenhouse to maintain the ideal temperature range. Be sure to monitor the temperature closely to prevent overheating, as excessively high temperatures can cause the plant to become stressed and lead to leaf damage.

Humidity Requirements

Calathea ornata is native to tropical regions, and as such, it requires high humidity levels of 50% or higher. Dry air can lead to the edges of the leaves becoming brown and crispy. To maintain the necessary humidity, you can place your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water, ensuring that the pot does not sit directly in the water to avoid root rot.

Alternatively, you can use a humidifier to increase the humidity around your plant or group it with other humidity-loving plants to create a microclimate. Regularly misting your Calathea ornata with distilled or filtered water can also help maintain humidity levels, but be careful not to over-mist as this may lead to fungal issues.

Watering Requirements

The Calathea ornata requires consistent watering to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Water your plant when the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch. During the growing season, you may need to water more frequently, while in the winter months, you can reduce the watering frequency as the plant’s growth slows.

To prevent overwatering and root rot, ensure that your plant’s pot has drainage holes and use a well-draining soil mix. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves and a wilted appearance, while underwatering can cause the leaves to become dry and crispy.

Fertilizing Requirements

Fertilize your Calathea ornata monthly during the growing season (spring and summer) using a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Over-fertilizing can cause leaf burn and damage the plant’s roots, so always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Signs of under-fertilizing include slow growth and pale leaves, while over-fertilizing may cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown.

Soil Requirements

Calathea ornata requires a well-draining soil mix that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. A combination of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil in a ratio of 2:1:1 is ideal for this plant. The peat moss helps retain moisture, while the perlite provides aeration and prevents the soil from becoming too compact.

When repotting your Calathea ornata, choose a pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Repotting is generally necessary every 1-2 years, as the plant outgrows its container or the soil becomes depleted of nutrients.

Diseases & Pests

Calathea ornata is susceptible to common houseplant pests and diseases. Some issues to watch for include:

  • Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause stippling on leaves and may lead to leaf loss if not treated. Remove them with a damp cloth and use a miticide if necessary.
  • Mealybugs: White, cotton-like insects that can cause leaf yellowing and wilting. Treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Root rot: Overwatering can lead to root rot, which causes yellowing leaves and a wilted appearance. Reduce watering and ensure proper drainage to prevent this issue.

Toxicity

Calathea ornata is non-toxic to both humans and pets, making it a safe choice for households with children or animals. However, it is still a good idea to keep the plant out of reach to prevent any accidental ingestion or damage to the plant.

Common Problems

Some common problems encountered with Calathea ornata include:

  • Brown leaf tips: This issue is often caused by low humidity, underwatering, or using tap water with high levels of minerals. Increase humidity, adjust watering, and use filtered or distilled water to alleviate this problem.
  • Yellowing leaves: Overwatering or inadequate drainage can lead to yellowing leaves. Ensure the pot has drainage holes and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  • Fading leaf color: Insufficient light can cause the signature pinstripes to fade. Move your plant to a brighter location with indirect light to maintain its vibrant colors.
  • Curling leaves: This is a sign of underwatering or low humidity. Increase watering frequency and maintain proper humidity levels to keep your plant healthy.

Conclusion

Calathea ornata is an exquisite addition to any indoor plant collection, with its striking pinstripes and lush foliage. With proper care and attention to its specific needs, this plant can thrive and bring beauty to your home for years to come.

If you find yourself enamored with the Calathea family, you may also be interested in exploring other species like Calathea roseopicta, Calathea medallion, or Calathea warscewiczii.