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Calathea ornata care & info | Pinstripe Calathea

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.

Name(s) (common, scientific)Pinstripe Calathea, pinstripe prayer plant, Calathea ornata
Difficulty levelHard
LightingBright indirect
WaterKeep lightly moist
Soil typeMoisture retaining

Calathea ornata care

Like other Calatheas, Calathea ornata is naturally found in South America, specifically Colombia and Venezuala.

The species grows in rainforests and seems to love everything about them. If you want to grow this plant successfully, 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. 

Green and pink pinstripe Calathea (Calathea ornata)

Calathea ornata light, location & temperature


Because rainforest plants are naturally shaded by larger trees, they aren’t adapted to receiving natural sunlight. However, contrary to what many plant sellers claim, species like Calathea ornata 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. If the windowsill you chose for it is very bright you might want to use a sheer curtain to block the sun’s harshest rays.


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. You can also try humidifiers or pebble trays to keep things as humid as possible, but the best location for Calathea ornata is undoubtedly a greenhouse.

Did you know? Since most of us don’t have a greenhouse in our garden, you can create a tiny one yourself. Just use a clear plastic storage bin with a layer of sphagnum moss on the bottom. Perfect for your Calatheas and other moisture loving houseplants.


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. Remember: if you feel comfortable, then your Calathea ornata probably does as well!

Calathea ornata (pinstripe Calathea) and Aloe succulent in background

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.

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. Try bottled water or at least regularly flush your Calathea ornata’s soil using distilled water!

Whatever water you use, keep the soil 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.

Just never let all moisture disappear, as your pinstripe Calathea will quickly strike back by shedding leaves. If you stick your finger into the soil, it’s time to give the plant a drink if your fingertip touches dampness but the rest feels dry.

Pinstripe Calathea (Calathea ornata), a houseplant with flashy foliage

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! Don’t feed outside of the growing months: if your Calathea is not putting out new foliage then it doesn’t need fertilizer either.

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 a Calathea ornata in your local plant store. You can also easily order a Calathea ornata online.

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.

Did you know? Calathea ornata is naturally light green in color. However, there are also cultivars with darker green coloration and pink stripes, which makes for a dramatic look.

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!

If you’re looking for even more information about pinstripe Calatheas, you could have a look at another Calathea ornata care guide. And if you love Calatheas, why not check out the rose painted Calathea care guide as well?