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Calathea Ornata Care Guide

Calathea plants can be challenging to care for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yours happy! Learn all about calathea ornata care, including how much light this plant needs and how much humidity you’ll need to ensure it stays happy.

Calathea ornata care…are calathea ornata plants hard to care for?

Hi plant people! Today we’re talking about a plant I have a love-hate relationship with. I love calathea plants because they have a variety of colors, shapes, and gorgeous leaf variegation patterns. But I hate them because they generally need a bit more care and feeding than some of my other plants. They can be a bit dramatic.

I like to have calathea plants outside for the spring and summer, and you’ll find out why in a bit. In fact, since plants are often happier outside in my climate (at least during the spring, summer, and early fall), I like to get all of my plants out for a summer holiday. But especially the calathea drama queens.

And today we’re talking about one of the more popular calathea varieties: the calathea ornata, otherwise referred to as the “pinstripe calathea.” And it’s pretty obvious why it gets that name.

calathea ornata plant leaf

For more calathea plants, check out my Calathea Dottie Care guide and my Calathea Network Care guide! You can also check out my Maranta Leuconeura “Prayer Plant” Care guide for a close plant relative.

Is it called a calathea or a goeppertia

In researching the plant for this post, I actually learned that it is technically now not a calathea. It’s a goeppertia. Both calathea and goeppertia plants are part of the marantaceae (or prayer plant) family. Each is a separate genus, but they are closely related.

Not long ago, a few hundred types of plants that used to be part of the calathea genus were reclassified to the goeppertia genus. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually just an evolution of knowledge—that is, plant scientists learning more about the plant.

However, plant hobbyists are a stubborn lot. As are the plant pros, to be honest. It’s likely we’ll continue to see this plant labeled as a calathea ornata or a pinstripe calathea from now until approximately the end of time. Just a heads up. 🙂

Regardless of what you call it, it’s a perennial plant native to South America. But it has adjusted very well to life as a houseplant and can live happily indoors around the world.

calathea ornata plant leaves

Where should I put a calathea ornata plant?

Since it has adjusted happily to live as a domesticated plant, let’s talk about what it needs to stay happy. As far as lighting goes, you should put your calathea ornata in an area that receives indirect light. The light can be bright or medium.

So, you can put it a little farther away from a window than you might some other variegated plants. That’s because in its natural habitat, it grows under very dense shade. I have mine on some shelving that is a few feet away from an east-facing window, so it’s pretty low light.

It will grow a bit slower in a position like this, but it will remain happy. If you want your ornata to grow faster, move it to somewhere with more light. Avoid direct light or direct sun since it will scorch the leaves.

If you notice the pinstripes are fading to white (as they are in some of the pictures in this post), it’s probably because of too much light. Ease off and the pink should return!

calathea ornata plant leaf markings

Pinstripe calathea water & soil needs

Calathea plants in general need a bit more water than the average houseplant. For many plants, I suggest erring on the side of underwatering to keep them happy. But the calathea ornata plant enjoys soil that stays evenly moist.

This doesn’t mean you need to water the plant every day, though! Always check the soil to see if the top inch or so is dry. If it is, you can water the plant again, letting all of the excess water drain out of the pot’s drainage holes.

If your plant is in lower light or the soil is on the heavier side, you’ll need to water your plant less. If you have the plant in a well-draining soil and the plant is getting more light, you’ll need to water it more. It’s like an equation 🙂

I do recommend a well-draining houseplant soil with some coco coir added in. The shredded coco coir is a great alternative to peat moss, and it helps the soil retain some moisture without being too heavy. It also helps with aeration.

I find that sometimes coir-based soils can get a bit cakey and start to shrink away from the pot’s edges. If this happens, just take a fork or a tooth pick and break up the top layer of soil. This helps with aeration, and it will also help the liquid disperse evenly throughout the soil when you water the plant.

small calathea ornata plant

Temperature & humidity needs

Calathea ornata plants tolerate a variety of normal household temperatures very well. New growth will likely slow or halt when temperatures are very low. This is similar to many other houseplants that go dormant in the late fall and winter.

Lower temperatures (even inside) and less light both contribute to this. So if you have your plants in a warm spot with grow lights and additional humidity over the winter, this might not apply to you.

And speaking of humidity, this is ALWAYS where calatheas make me regret buying them. I hate having to fill up a humidifier for my plants. I realize this is lazy, but it’s the truth! So I tend toward plants that do not need much humidity.

So that’s why I have my calathea ornata in a bathroom. Our bathroom does have a window, though. At first I had the plant on the windowsill, but that window gets great light, so I ended up moving it to the shelving unit above the toilet.

If you notice that the edges or tips on your calathea are crispy, brown, or drying, it likely needs more humidity. Shoot for the highest-humidity spot in your home, and consider adding a humidifier if you just can’t find the right spot.

The need for high humidity is also why I like to move my calathea plants outdoors for the spring and summer. Maryland humidity is shockingly intense, and as long as calathea plants live in the shade, they thrive outdoors in the spring and summer!

calathea ornata on a shelf with other plants
Pictured here with my alocasia dragon scale, which is clearly throwing a fit with that leaf
calathea ornata on a bathroom shelf

Calathea ornata care: Fertilizer, growth rate, and repotting

Calathea plants are not known to be particularly fast or slow growers. They are pretty average. If you are seeing new growth emerge, you’re doing something right! I recommend using a concentrated fertilizer like Liqui-Dirt for your calathea ornata.

You could also consider adding worm castings to the top layer of soil with a fork for added nutrients. Your ornata shouldn’t need repotted too often. But if you notice the roots beginning to grow out of the bottom of the pot, it’s time!

Size the pot up an inch or two and make sure to use fresh, well-draining soil. Oh, and new growth will always roll out of the stems with a slightly lighter green color. Don’t worry, it will deepened to the rich hunter green with time.

unfurling calathea ornata leaf
calathea ornata plant leaf

How to propagate calathea plants through division

This is sadly a plant that cannot be propagated through a cutting. However, there are typically many plants in a single pot. And new plants sprouting regularly on a happy plant. You can propagate these through division.

Propagating through division is a fancy way of saying “taking the plant out of the soil and dividing it at the roots.” You’re really just separating a piece from the plant. The good news, though, is that this means the new plant will already have a developed root system.

So there’s really no waiting around for things to get going before planting. You can divide and plant the “propagated” calathea ornata plant immediately and it will be good to go. Hooray!

calathea ornata plants at a nursery

Are calathea ornata plants safe for pets?

Yes! Calathea ornata plants are not toxic to pets. That means that it is safe to have around them, and your pets probably won’t get terribly ill if they have a nibble. That said, it isn’t meant for consumption.

So it’s best to keep plants away from pets or small children if they are prone to a bit of grazing. (This goes for mostly all calatheas that I’ve researched, by the way. Not toxic but also not designed for a salad.) Read more about pet-safe plants here!

calathea ornata plant markings

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