All prayer plant species are known for their beautiful foliage, but Calathea ornata is definitely near the top of the list. Its dark green leaves feature a pinstripe pattern that can range from light green to bright pink, which makes up for its fussiness and rather difficult care. Not a plant for beginners, but certainly worth the trouble!
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Calathea ornata care and growing the lovely pinstripe Calathea in your own home.
|Hard||Bright indirect||Keep lightly moist||Light & moisture retaining|
Calathea ornata care
Like other Calatheas, Calathea ornata is naturally found in South America. It grows in rainforests and seems to love everything about them. If you want to grow this plant succesfully, you better do so in an environment that resembles its natural habitat as much as possible or it won’t live a long life. The three basic rainforest plant rules are: no direct sunlight, high humidity and no exposure to cold.
Calathea ornata light, location & temperature
- Light. Because rainforest plants are naturally shaded by larger trees, they aren’t adapted to receiving natural sunlight. Contrary to what many plant sellers claim, they aren’t adapted to growing in the darker spots of your home either. They still need plenty of light. Give your Calathea ornata bright but indirect light to keep it growing happily and prevent burning.
- Location. A very important part of caring for this plant is the proper location. As discussed, high humidity is an absolute must and the plant will wither away in dry air. This means Calathea ornata is not the right choice for most homes, as they are just too dry even if you keep the plant in the bathroom or kitchen. A terrarium might be helpful to keep the moisture in and you can try humidifiers or pebble trays to keep things as humid as possible, but the best location for Calathea ornata is undoubtedly a greenhouse.
- Temperature. Because Calathea ornata naturally grows in warm areas it won’t appreciate cold or drafts. This means you should keep it away from any windows or doorways that might get cold during the night. Room temperature is ideal; try to go no lower than 60 °F/15.5 °C.
Calathea ornata soil and planting
Because Calathea ornata prefers a rainforest-like environment, its soil should be kept lightly moist at all times. This means a peat-based soil is often recommended. Peat isn’t the most sustainable planting medium out there, so you could try a replacement like coconut coir which also retains moisture effectively. To prevent the soil from becoming a compact clump, be sure to also add plenty of potting soil and a small amount of perlite, which keeps things light and airy. If you don’t want the hassle of mixing your own soil, many Calathea lovers have reported success with premade African violet soil, which you can find here.
A plastic nursery pot with drainage holes at the bottom should work well for your Calathea ornata. It allows excess moisture to drain, which prevents rot, but also keeps enough moisture in.
Watering Calathea ornata
Watering is an important aspect of Calathea ornata care. This plant is quite sensitive and it has been reported by some growers to dislike tap water and prefer distilled or rainwater. In any case, it’s important to keep it lightly moist but never soggy or wet. The top of the soil should be allowed to dry out a little, especially during wintertime when the plant isn’t growing as quickly.
Calathea ornata fertilizer
You can feed Calathea ornata using a regular houseplant fertilizer during the growing months, which is usually from late spring to early fall. Be sure to dilute your fertilizer to half strength or less to prevent root damage!
Buying Calathea ornata
Despite its difficult care, Calathea ornata is a pretty popular houseplant. Which is not surprising – how can you resist that foliage?! If you’re lucky you should be able to find Calathea ornata in your local plant store. You can also easily order it online here.
When buying Calatheas, be sure to thoroughly inspect the leaves for spider mites. They are very sensitive to these nasty little bugs and you don’t want to bring an infestation into your home.
Is Calathea ornata toxic to cats and dogs?
Plants from the Calathea genus, including Calathea ornata, should be non-toxic to cats and dogs. Keep in mind that plant ingestion might always cause some degree of vomiting and other discomfort in your pets, though!