How to Truly Care For Your Calathea Ornata (Pinstripe Plant)

The calathea ornata is a gorgeous plant known for its unique striped pattern, hence the nickname “pinstripe”. This plant has oval, deep green leaves with small white pinstripes as well as a colorful underside.

Like other calathea varieties, the calathea ornata has a reputation for being fussy or difficult, but once you know what this plant likes you will be amazed at the growth!

This plant is tropical, originating from the deep rainforest canopies of Central and South America. It’s most common nickname is the pinstripe plant, and it is a popular houseplant for plant lovers everywhere. Like we said, calathea ornata care can seem demanding, but it has so much potential once you unlock the secrets!

How Do You Care For a Calathea Pinstripe?

Don’t let this plant’s reputation scare you away! As a tropical plant, the calathea pinstripe needs plenty of humidity, water, and high temperatures. Most owners get frustrated with watering and soil, but as long as you take the time and care to research you will be just fine! Here is everything you need to know to care for your calathea ornata.


Most experienced plant owners regard humidity as one of the most important factors in caring for a calathea ornata. High humidity will make this plant absolutely gorgeous, so be prepared to sweat! The calathea ornata will flourish with a humidity level of at least 50% to 60%, so you should utilize a humidifier to achieve this constant level.

If you are worried about providing humidity, placing the plant among others will generate natural humidity. Likewise, being placed in the kitchen or bathroom where steam and water are generated will help. You will be able to tell if the humidity levels are low if the leaves of the plant begin to droop and appear to have crispy edges.


There is rumor going around that the calathea ornata is a low-light plant, but that could not be further from the truth! Like most tropical plants, this one will grow best under bright and indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight will fade and ruin the beautiful pattern on the leaves.

For bright, indirect sunlight you can place this plant in a northern or eastern facing window. It will get weak direct sunlight as the sun rises and bright, indirect sunlight for the rest of the day! If you fear that you can’t judge sunlight accurately, buy a light meter. Light meters measure in foot candles or FCs, and the ideal range for this plant is 300-400 FCs.

Best Soil and Mixture Type

The calathea pinstripe loves moisture, so a soil that absorbs moisture is going to be a must! However, the soil must also drain well to avoid root rot or pest invasions. Here are some good elements to look for in handmade or store bought soil:

  • Perlite, to help with drainage
  • Coco coir, an organic compound that helps with drainage and moisture retention
  • Peat, to retain the most moisture
  • Charcoal, to allow retention of nutrients

This plant will thrive in slightly acidic soil, so make sure the pH is around 6.5 on the scale for the best results.


When it comes to calathea ornata care, watering can be especially difficult. It is important that the plant does not dry out between waterings, as this can damage it and increase the risk of spider mite attacks. The calathea ornata is not drought tolerant, and it likes the soil to be moist at all times.

You should consistently make sure the soil is moist without over watering – if puddles begin to form, there is too much water! Wait at least a week between waterings, but check daily in the first few inches of soil to test for dryness. This will help you find a consistent watering schedule. Keep in mind you can go longer between waterings in the winter and should be doing more in the summer.

Browning or drooping leaves are sure signs that this plant needs to be watered. Keep an eye out for it and be consistent, and it should be growing great in no time!


Temperature and humidity are connected, and the high humidity needs of the calathea ornata mean that temperature must also be higher than average. After all, it is a tropical plant! The ideal range for this plant is between 65°F to 85°F, with the sweet spot being in the middle at 75°F. In Celsius, that is 18°C to 29°C.

The absolute lowest temperature that the plant can tolerate is 60°F or 15.5°C. If it drops lower than this, the tropical plant will be shocked and growth will be stunted. Cold drafts or sudden temperature changes should be avoided!

Fertilizer Needs

Fertilizing your plant is important in the summer and spring, when growing conditions are ideal and your calathea ornata is growing at an optimal rate. You should not fertilize it in winter, since growing conditions are not ideal. Here are some good nutrients to look out for in fertilizer for this plant:

  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Calcium and magnesium are always an added bonus, but nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are definitely needed! For the best results, fertilize about once a month and sit back to watch it grow! You can also try a slow-release fertilizer that will do the work for you every four weeks.


Calatheas are known to have a fast growing rate in the correct season, but tend to take longer to spread out and truly show signs of growth. During the summer, you can expect a growing rate of a few centimeters each week. After the first growing season, the leaves will slowly begin to expand horizontally and stretch out to form the shape of a mature calathea ornata.

The maximum size this plant can reach is just over two feet, or 60 centimeters. In the home, the average size will be a little under 18 inches or about 46 centimeters. It will be a perfect bedroom or living room decoration, and the size and growth rate are very manageable even for new owners.


The calathea pinstripe may have a reputation of needing lots of TLC and personal attention, but repotting is one thing that is easy! With ideal growing conditions, you will only need to repot your calathea ornata once every two years. After it is done, you can just sit back and relax until next time.

When repotting this plant, select a pot that is only a few inches bigger than the last one. This will give the roots more room to grow without being too spacious, leading to potential rot. Some signs that it is time to repot will include roots poking out through the drainage holes of the pot or growing back out of the soil.

Pruning – Needed or No? (You’ll Like the Answer)

Good news – pruning is not needed with the calathea ornata! The leaves do not grow excessively and settle once the average height and size is reached. The only time you will need to prune your calathea ornata is if a leaf appears to be dying or infected, or if you want to improve the general shape and look of the plant.

Plant Toxicity

Even when it is ingested, the calathea ornata is non-toxic to both humans and animals. This makes it an ideal houseplant for anyone with children or pets! At most, there may be mild irritation or upset stomachs from ingesting the plant. While it is obviously not recommended for anyone to ingest the calathea ornata, there will not be negative side effects.

Why Does My Calathea Pinstripe Look Like It’s Dying?

Now, we will go over the main issues with the calathea ornata that can lead to a noticeable difference in appearance. These can include pests, diseases, and a lack of important resources like water or nutrients.


For calathea ornata care, you will need to look out for their main pest: spider mites. Spider mites are small and hard to spot, but they are drawn to dry environments and leave holes and sticky residue on leaves. Letting your plant dry out between waterings is a good way to attract spider mites.

If you notice signs of spider mites, wash the leaves of the calathea ornata gently with soapy water and/or rubbing alcohol. This will wash the spider mites away from the leaves. Finally, place a few drops of neem oil in the soil and along the leaves as a natural insecticide to keep them away.


A disease that can severely damage your calathea pinstripe is root rot. When the plant is overwatered or cannot drain excess water, root rot can set in and stunt the growth. If it seems like your plant is no longer absorbing nutrients, lift it from the pot and cut away the obviously rotted roots. Your plant may not recover, but it is worth a try.

Bacterial or fungal leaf spot is the other main disease you will combat as the owner of this plant. A bacterial or fungal infestation will manifest as small spots or growths along the leaves. Find a good bacterial spray or fungal treatment at a plant store near you and carefully treat the leaves with the spray. Ideally, it will disappear quickly and the plant will fully recover.

Common Problems With This Plant

Why Does my Calathea Ornata have Yellow Leaves?

If you notice that the leaves of your calathea ornata are beginning to turn yellow, don’t panic! It may disrupt the lovely green you are used to, but there is a way to fix it. Yellow leaves are a general sign that the plant is getting too much water.

Pass more time between waterings and make sure that no standing puddles form in the soil when watering. Track the change, and the yellowing should disappear as watering is regulated.

Why Does my Calathea Ornata have Browing Leaves?

On the other side of the spectrum, brown leaves can be a sign that the plant is not getting enough water. This is a common issue as you adapt to finding a good watering schedule for your plant, so don’t feel bad. Try feeling out the first few inches of soil each day after watering. If there is dryness, give it a quick rinse.

Why Does my Calathea Ornata have Brown Tips?

As a tropical plant, the calathea ornata requires high levels of humidity. Brown tips are a sign that the air is too dry and humidity is lacking. Check your humidifier and either up the level or treat your plant to a quick steam bath. As long as the humidity is quickly changed, the brown tips should be gone!

FAQs – Your Calathea Ornata Care Questions Answered

Finally, let’s cover some of the most frequently asked questions you will have as the owner of a calathea ornata.

Does the Calathea Ornata Produce Flowers?

Your mature calathea ornata may occasionally produce flowers, but they will be small and hard to spot. Their growth is also relatively inconsistent. The flowers will be tiny and oval-shaped with an orange coloring. They typically grow along spinal bracts or the underside of the leaves, so give them a look if you are curious!

How Often Should I Water My Calathea Ornata?

This question is a common one for new owners of a calathea ornata! After all, it is the most common action you’ll take to care for the plant. Finding the right mix of constant moisture without overwatering can be tricky!

It is different for every plant, but try watering your calathea ornata once a week. Thoroughly wet the soil, making sure not to water from the top of the plant. Each day, dip your knuckle into the soil and make sure it is still moist a few inches down. If it is dry, water it again. After a few weeks of this routine, you will have a watering schedule down.

What is the Price of a Calathea Pinstripe Plant? Where Can I Buy One?

Since they are a tropical plant, you will most likely be able to buy a calathea ornata from a nursery or specialty plant provider near you. Prices can vary, but you should expect to pay at least $25 (and quite likely more) for a mature or healthy calathea ornata. After all, it is a gorgeous plant and well worth the price!

photo of Charlotte Bailey founder of Oh So Garden


Charlotte Bailey

Charlotte is a Qualified Royal Horticultural Society Horticulturist, plant conservationist, and founder of Oh So Garden. Armed with a background in Plant Science (BSc Hons, MSc) and 5 years of hands-on experience in the field, her in-depth guides are read by over 100,000 people every month.

For her work, she's been awarded the title of Yale Young Global Scholar, and been featured as a garden and houseplant expert across major networks and national publications such as Homes and Garden, Best Life, Gardeningetc,, BHG, Real Homes, and Country Living. You can find her on Linkedin.

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