The Calathea Vittata is a plant from the Marantaceae family and belongs to a group of plants called “prayer plants”.
In the evening the leaves turn upwards and join together to resemble ‘prayer hands’, and in the morning they float downwards in a process called nyctinasty.
Appearance: The Vittata strikes you with its beautiful pale green stripes that almost give the appearance of being painted on top of a medium green leaf canvas.
Origin: This plant originates from the tropical forests of South America, so to raise this plant successfully, you will need to consider what kind of elements exist in the tropics that you can mimic in your home to keep this plant happy!
Other Names This Plant Goes By: Goeppertia Elliptica ‘Vittata’, Calathea Elliptica, Pinstripe Plant (though pinstripe is a separate plant!)
Calathea Vittata Care (Detailed Breakdown)
This plant requires moderate care to thrive in your home, so if you have not mastered your green thumb just yet, you may find yourself having a bit of trouble with its delicate nature.
If you have come to this page wondering why your plant is acting finicky, don’t be discouraged! Their fussy natures can take getting used to, but they are still easier to take care of than other plants from the Calathea family.
In their natural habitat, these plants would be hidden under the various other larger plant species in the tropics, so these little guys would be tucked away, but still get a decent amount of sunlight.
This plant will do its best under bright levels of indirect light, but not direct sun exposure e.g. left in a windowsill all day.
If you notice browning leaves, you can carefully clip away the affected area to maintain your plant’s healthy foliage and move your plant to a more shaded area.
If you have a light meter, try shooting for the 300-400FC mark – this is roughly what the calathea vittata needs for healthy growth.
Thanks to their tropical nature, calatheas are thirsty plants! The average days between watering is usually 5-6 days, but during the winter months you’ll want to decrease the frequency of waterings significantly to prevent dreaded root rot from taking hold.
A good way to judge if your plant is ready for its next watering is by sticking your finger two inches through the soil and judging if it is dry. Calatheas generally will throw a fit if they’re too dry.
A big thing to keep in mind is that the Calathea Vittata is sensitive to tap water, so it would be best to use distilled water, rainwater, or even fish tank water.
This plant will thrive best in a humidified environment, think 60%+. If your environment is more on the drier side, your Calathea Vittata’s leaves might begin browning.
The easiest and cheapest way to do this is by adding a small humidifier near your plants. You can also try grouping your plants together – this is said to increase the process of transpiration thereby increasing humidity levels slightly.
The ideal temperature is 15-30℃ (59-86℉). During the summer, the Calathea can be moved to a shady area outdoors. In the winter, it has to be moved back indoors because they will not survive under 15℃.
The best soil for this plant is one that allows for well-draining, meaning that it will allow the soil to drain at a steady rate without collecting too much water.
It should also contain a mix of peat and perlite that aerates the soil so water can flow through the pot easily.
This will make it so that pools of water don’t collect in your pot. Since the Calathea originated from tropical climates, it is necessary for the soil to be moist and warm to prevent your plant from curling and browning.
A quick tip for supplementing the nutrition of the soil would be to add charcoal to the topsoil. Charcoal is great for Calathea because it helps maintain a healthy PH level for the soil, while also retaining more moisture when watering.
Some people like to add orchid bark to their soil because it helps plants, like the Calathea, grow stronger roots.
Here is what an average soil mix might look like:
- 50% sterile potting soil
- 20% charcoal
- 20% orchid bark
- 10% perlite
It is best to use organic fertilizer to optimize the growth of healthy foliage for your Calathea. Look for a fertilizer abundant in nitrogen and add it during the spring and summer seasons only.
Do not add fertilizer during the fall and winter since the plant is in a resting phase during this season and it is not required.
Be careful to not add too much fertilizer as this can increase the salt and acidity levels and make your plant have more trouble absorbing nutrients from the soil.
When is the Best Time to Repot your Calathea Vittata?
The best way to tell if your plant needs repotting is if the roots are starting to grow out and it’s preventing water drainage. Another reason you might have to repot your plant is if the soil is drying out quicker.
To do this safely, a good time to choose to repot your plant is in the spring right as your plant is coming out of its dormant phase.
When you are repotting, it is best to buy a pot that is bigger than the one it was in previously so that it can grow comfortably within its new environment. The type of pot you buy can matter too! Try to find a pot that is either plastic or glazed ceramic.
Pots that are made of terra-cotta or an unglazed clay pot can drain the moisture out of your soil.
What is the Best way to Propagate your Calathea Vittata?
So you read all of this and still want more of them? I am just kidding, even though these guys can be difficult to nurture, they are still incredible plants. The best time to propagate the Vittata is in March.
What you are going to do is remove the whole plant from the pot and divide the ‘mother plant’. This process can be intimidating at first, but you will find that it’s fairly easy once you get started.
If you take a close look at your plant, eventually you will find that new shoots will begin to form on top of the soil and the original plant will start creating separate bodies all entangled together.
First, you will take your plant out of the pot and very gently, use your fingers to separate and divide the plant. Then take your original plant and put it back into its pot with fresh soil.
The new plant will also require fresh soil, but it will do better in a smaller pot as its starting its journey.
To make sure that your new plant does well, you can cover it in thin plastic to keep it nice and warm.
Another important note to keep in mind is that light should be slightly more minimal than the mother plant as it adjusts to its new environment. Then all you have to do is just wait for your baby to grow!
Common Pests, Diseases & Issues
Since the Calathea Vittata is often in warm and moist soil, this can attract annoying pests that live rent-free alongside your plant.
To prevent pests, like gnats and spider mites, a quick tip that you could do is add a thin layer of dry soil to create a barrier.
Spider mites could spring out of nowhere to start eating away at the leaves of your Vittata. There are several ways that you can get rid of spider mites from your plant, but remember this plant is very sensitive, so treatment should be equally gentle.
One way you can do this is to take something soft, like a cotton pad, and gently sweep your plant with a water and soap mixture. Then bring your plant to a water source, like your shower, to get it gently cleaned out.
A common way that people try to get rid of pests is by using neem oil. I would suggest not to clean your Calathea with neem oil because it can have hazardous results for your plant. This is because the Calathea is sensitive and if the neem oil is sitting on its leaves it can absorb more sunlight and cause its leaves to burn.
Ultimately, the best way to keep your Calathea free of pests is by keeping it clean. This can be done by taking a microfibre cloth and going gently around the leaf. You can also use a spray bottle and mix water and a tad bit of olive oil to keep it fresh every once in a while.
Oh, and double check your plant before you bring it home!
FAQ – Calathea Vittata Care Tips
Q. Is the Calathea Vittata Safe Around Kids and Pets?
The good news is that this plant is perfectly safe around your kids, dogs, and cats.
This is a perfect plant for those who are looking for a low-maintenance house-friendly plant!
Q. Why Does my Calathea Vittata have Brown Tips?
It could be some trial and error until you figure out the root of the problem, pun intended. This plant can be fussy; however, the first thing that should be attempted is changing the water to distilled water if you have been using tap water.
Over time, tap water can cause salt and minerals to build up into the soil. This plant species was used to tropical rain so it would do best with water as close as it can get to the source.
Once you think you have figured out what is browning your plant (could also be overwatering, temperature, etc), make sure to carefully cut out the brown tips to ensure your plant maintains nice and healthy foliage.
Q. Why are My Calathea Vittata Leaves Curling?
A common reason why your Calathea Vittata could be curling (see: calathea leaves curling article) is that it is not being watered enough or it is being overwatered. These plants need a weekly watering scheduling and their soil should be monitored often to make sure that it isn’t dry.
The watering schedule should be adjusted based on the time of year. Winter will require less watering, and summer will require more.
If you want a more precise idea of your soil’s hydration levels, you can buy a Hygrometer. They are a great tool to prevent overwatering or underwatering your plant.
Calathea Vittata vs Calathea White Star – What’s the Difference?
The Calathea White Star has distinctively more strips that envelope the leaf and is much larger than the Calathea Vittata.
The White Star can reach a maximum size of 4-5ft and is much taller than its Vittata counterpart that reaches a maximum of 2ft.