Calathea Ornata ‘Pin-stripe Calathea’ Care Guide (2022)

The Peacock plant, also known as Calathea ornata, is a beautiful tropical houseplant, famed for its beautiful, contrasting green and purplish-red leaves

Calathea ornata is a gorgeous tropical plant with snazzily striped leaves, which is why it’s often called Pin-stripe Calathea.

One great bonus of Calathea Ornata is that it is not toxic to pets at all, unlike so many tropical plants.

This rainforest native can be a little temperamental, but its lush, vibrant foliage makes it worth the trouble. 

Scientific NameGoeppertia Ornata
Common NameCalathea Ornata, Calathea Pinstripe, Pinstripe Plant
LightBright indirect sunlight
WateringWeekly, water if the top inch of soil is dry
Temperature65 to 85ºF (18 to 29ºC)
Hardiness Zone10 to 11
Humidity50 to 80%
Soil TypeLoamy, moist but well-draining
Soil pH6.5 (mildly acidic)
FertilizingA balanced feed once a month in spring and summer
RepottingEvery 2 years
PruningAs needed to remove damage
PropagationDivision
ToxicityNot toxic to humans and pets
Mature Size24 to 36 inches as a houseplant
Bloom TimeRarely blooms indoors

What’s Unique About Calathea ornata?

The Calathea ornata plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela, where it thrives in the moist shade under the tree canopy.

Calathea ornata plants are a favorite of indoor gardeners because of the thin pink stripes that adorn the leaves. One of its common names is Calathea Pinstripe because of this distinctive variegation.

As well, Calathea ornata leaves are notable for their daily habit of tracking the light through the day and then folding up at night. 

Growing Calathea ornata can be a little challenging, but its lush, colorful foliage will bring a touch of the tropics to any space.

Calathea ornata Care

In the South American rainforests where Calathea ornata originates, it is used to a warm, humid environment where it grows in the shade.

Calathea ornata plant care consists of providing it with as close an approximation of those growing conditions as possible.

Good Pin-stripe Calathea care means keeping it warm, with consistently moist air and soil.

Light 

In the rainforests, Calathea ornata grows in the dappled light that is created by the tropical sun being filtered by the tree canopy.

In your home, Calathea ornata light requirements are for bright but indirect light. No matter what direction your rooms face, you should be able to find a spot that meets Pin-stripe Calathea light needs.

You absolutely must keep your Calathea ornata out of the full sun. Even if the harsh rays don’t burn the delicate foliage, too bright light will fade the pink pinstripes that make this plant so attractive.

In a south-facing room, keep them out of the direct sun.

However, in an east or north-facing room, they will thrive right next to the window.

Watering 

When it comes to Calathea ornata watering, it can take a bit of a delicate balancing act to get its watering needs just right.

In the rainforests where they grow wild, Calathea ornata grow in soil that is always moist, but never saturated with water. Their roots need to be able to breathe.

Water Pin-stripe Calathea every week, but check the soil surface first. If the top inch has dried out, gently add more water to wet the surface evenly.

It’s best to use distilled or rain water, but if all you have is tap water, let it sit overnight to dissipate the chemicals used to treat municipal water.

Temperature 

The ideal temperature for Pin-stripe Calathea is between 65 to 85ºF (18 to 29ºC), which is not surprising for a tropical native.

Most homes are set within the lower end of the Calathea ornata temperature range, so you shouldn’t have to worry about supplementary heating.

However, Calathea ornata has little temperature tolerance below 60°F (15°C). Take care to keep it out of drafts and away from air conditioning vents.

While you may take your Calathea ornata outside for the hot summer months, be aware that it has no frost hardiness, and freezing temperatures will kill it. Move it back inside before cooler weather arrives.

Humidity 

While some rainforest plants can be forgiving of low humidity, Calathea ornata humidity requirements are not so understanding.

The ideal humidity for Pin-stripe Calathea is between 50 to 80%, which is definitely higher than you want in an indoor environment.

However, there are ways to provide an adequate humidity level for Calathea ornata without turning your whole house into a rainforest.

The best way is to buy a small cool mist humidifier. This can be set amongst all your tropical plants to give them the moisture-laden air that they prefer.

While a pebble tray filled with water or daily misting are other options, a humidifier is your best bet.

Soil 

Calathea ornata soil needs to both retain moisture, while at the same time drain excess water so that the soil is never saturated.

The ideal pH level for Pin-stripe Calathea is 6.5, or mildly acidic.

You can use an African Violet soil mix with great success, but you can also create your own custom soil for Pin-stripe Calathea.

2 parts peat moss to 1 part perlite would meet all the needs of your Calathea ornata. 

You can also use regular potting soil with a handful or two of peat moss, perlite, and orchard bark to create a more porous mix.

Fertilizer 

While it is a good idea to use fertilizer for Pin-stripe Calathea, you don’t want to overdo it. 

A good Calathea ornata fertilizer is a standard indoor liquid formulation with a balanced fertilizer ratio of 10-10-10.

You should dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength, and apply to the soil surface evenly.

Use the fertilizer right after you’ve watered the soil to ensure even absorption. 

Water about once a month during its active growing season in spring and summer, and stop in the fall and winter.

A good rule of thumb is to fertilize when you see new leaves emerging.

Potting & Repotting 

Calathea ornata repotting should be done every 2 years, or when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes.

Repotting Pin-stripe Calathea is best done in spring, at the beginning of its growing season.

Only increase the pot size by a couple of inches at most. You might think that you’re doing your Calathea ornata a favor by giving a spacious new home, but in actual fact you can set back its growth.

You can use a glazed or plastic pot for your Calathea ornata, as this will help conserve the soil moistures it loves.

Always use fresh potting mix.

Pruning 

There isn’t much need for Calathea ornata pruning, unless you have dying or damaged leaves. It naturally grows into a graceful form without your help.

However, while Calathea ornata is an evergreen and the leaves are long-lived, they will eventually die. 

When most of a leaf is damaged, cut out the leaf stem close to the soil surface.

You may also trim off any edges or tips that have become brown, without taking off an entire leaf. Just use a pair of scissors to remove any unsightly bits. 

When cutting Pin-stripe Calathea, use a sharp, sterilized knife or pair of scissors.

Propagation 

Calathea ornata propagation can only be done by dividing the plant, which is usually done at the same time as repotting. 

Spring is the ideal time for propagation, as it’s the beginning of Calathea ornata’s growing season.

To propagate Pin-stripe Calathea, start by giving your plant a thorough watering.

Then, remove the root ball from the pot. You should be able to see the roots of individual plants intertwined with each other.

Gently pull apart the entangled roots, ensuring that each root clump has at least one leaf stem attached.

Plant each new Calathea ornata into its own pot, and water them well. 

Also, make sure to check out our in-depth Calathea roseopicta plant care guide.

Common Problems of Calathea ornata

Because of its rather finicky growing requirements, it is possible that you will have some Calathea ornata problems.

The best way to avoid problems with Pin-stripe Calathea is by taking the time to give it what it needs to grow well right from the beginning.

You should also keep a close eye on its leaves to catch problems early.

Pests 

Like all houseplants, Calathea ornata can be a magnet for bugs.

You can keep Calathea ornata pests at bay by wiping down its leaves once a month with a damp cloth. Add a few drops of neem oil or insecticidal soap. 

However, if you do find some insects on your Pin-stripe Calathea, you shouldn’t have too much trouble in clearing them out.

Mealybugs look like little specks of cotton on the underside of the leaves. Use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to wipe them off.

Aphids are small green insects under the leaves. Use a handheld vacuum to suck them up.

Spider mites spin sticky webs on the leaves and stems. A good showering will clean them off.

Diseases 

Most Calathea ornata diseases are fungal or bacterial, which thrive in damp conditions.

Since Pin-stripe Calathea needs moist soil and high humidity, you have to keep a close eye out for the development of any disease that may develop.

Root rot is the most likely disease you will encounter with your Calathea ornata. 

If the leaves are starting to turn yellow and the stems are getting soft, pull the root ball out of its pot and clear off the soil.

If some of the roots are turning black, cut away all affected tissues and repot in fresh soil that will drain excess water.

Growing Problems 

Other growing problems can be solved by simply tweaking the growing conditions for your sick plant. Calathea ornata can be finicky when it doesn’t get quite what it needs for vigorous growth.

If your Calathea ornata has brown tips on its leaves, you need to increase the humidity level.

If the pink pinstripes start turning white, you’re giving your Calathea ornata too much sun. Move it out of the direct light.

If your Calathea ornata is not putting out new growth in spring and summer, you should move it to a brighter spot.

If the leaves are not folding and unfolding with the changing light levels, you should increase the humidity.

Toxicity of Calathea ornata

Pin-stripe Calathea is not at all toxic to humans or animals. 

This lack of toxicity means that you do not need to take any extraordinary precautions when growing these beauties in homes with pets and children.

Your main concern should be protecting the lush leaves from damage from these small members of your household.

For Humans 

Calathea ornata is not at all toxic to humans.

While you can grow it around children without worrying about accidental poisoning, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Firstly, you may be using insecticides or fungicides that might have an adverse effect on children. Even organic sprays may not be completely safe. 

Secondly, you will not want your children to damage the beautiful leaves of these tropical plants.

And finally, a young child will not be able to distinguish between which plants are safe, and which ones are toxic.

For that reason, it’s always best to discourage children from handling your houseplants. 

For Pets 

Calathea ornata is not toxic to animals, so all of your household pets are safe around these plants.

However, cats and dogs are both carnivores, and their digestive systems are not equipped to handle large amounts of vegetable matter.

If your cat or dog chows down on your Calathea ornata, you may end up with a vomiting animal as it gets rid of what it can’t digest.

 It won’t require a trip to the vet, but it can be very unpleasant while it lasts.

Cats especially can cause a lot of damage to the foliage of a houseplant, so it’s best to keep your Calathea ornata where they can’t reach it.

Calathea ornata Appearance

The Calathea ornata appearance is usually described in terms of its leaves, with its distinctive pink pinstripes.

However, its graceful shape as it grows into a bushy plant is also very attractive.

While it is very unlikely to flower, especially when grown indoors, you will not miss them with such lovely leaves.

Foliage 

The foliage of Calathea ornata is what gives it the common name of Pin-stripe Calathea. 

Each leaf can grow to a length of 8 to 10 inches, with a broad oval shape. They have a glossy texture and are thick and leathery.

The leaves of Calathea ornata have thin pink diagonal lines radiating out from the center rib, looking like they’ve been drawn by hand. They are purple on the underside.

The other notable characteristic of Calathea ornata leaves is that they move around on a daily basis to follow the light. 

At night, they close up like praying hands. If the room is quiet you can even hear them rustling.

Flowering 

Calathea ornata flowering is very rare on plants grown indoors. 

The only chance you would have for a flowering on an indoor Calathea ornata would be if you were able to keep it in ideal growing conditions.

Spikes of tubular white flowers are more likely to occur on plants grown outdoors year-round in a tropical region. They are insignificant next to the leaves.

If a Calathea ornata does flower, the blooming period is in summer.

However, no one grows a Calathea ornata in hopes of seeing flowers bloom. It is the snazzy pinstriped leaves that make them so desirable as a houseplant.

Size and Growth 

The mature size of Calathea ornata grown indoors as a potted plant is about 3 feet tall and across.

It has a fairly slow growth rate, taking 3 to 5 years to reach that size. 

New leaves emerge from the center of the plant as older leaves die off around the edges.

Calathea ornata forms a graceful shape, with its large leaves arching out from the ends of their stiff stems.

When grown outdoors in a tropical zone, a Calathea ornata can get as tall as 9 feet at maturity. It should be planted in consistently moist soil in a shady location.

Calathea ornata Fragrance

There is no Calathea ornata fragrance. Neither the rare Pin-stripe Calathea flower nor the evergreen foliage has a scent.

Calathea ornata does have a valuable contribution to make to your home’s atmosphere, however. It is one of the best plants for filtering contaminants such as benzene and formaldehyde from the air.

This makes Calathea ornata a particularly good choice for places where strong scents are discouraged, such as medical centers.

You may also appreciate a plant with no smell if you live in a small space where it could become overwhelming.

However, you could consider adding a drop of lavender or some other essential oil to the damp cloth you use to wipe down the leaves of your Calathea ornata every month.

Suggested Uses for Calathea ornata

Since Calathea ornata is safe around children and pets, and is good at filtering the air indoors, there’s lots of different ways to use this tropical beauty. 

If you have room for it in your bathroom, it would thrive in the extra humidity there. Your bedroom would be another good choice, where it would filter the air as you sleep.

Calathea ornata is equally effective as a solo specimen plant, or grouped with other rainforest plants for an indoor tropical garden.

In summer, you can move it out to a deck or balcony to bask in the heat and humidity, as long as you shelter it from the sun.

FAQ

What is Calathea ornata? 

Calathea ornata is an evergreen plant native to the tropical rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela. It is grown as a potted houseplant for its striking leaves.

How to identify Calathea ornata? 

Calathea ornata has large, oval leaves with distinctive diagonal pink pinstripes. It grows into a small bush with stiff stems arching out from the central base.

How to care for Calathea ornata? 

Calathea ornata should be grown in a warm environment with high humidity and consistently moist soil in bright indirect light. Fertilize in the growing season.

How to grow Calathea ornata indoors? 

Keep Calathea ornata out of the full sun and provide supplementary humidity with a small humidifier. Water whenever the top inch of soil dries out.

How to grow Calathea ornata outdoors? 

Calathea ornata can be grown outdoors year-round in a tropical zone. In temperate zones a potted plant can be kept in a shady spot outside during hot summer weather.

How fast does Calathea ornata grow? 

Calathea ornata has a moderately slow growth rate, taking 2 to 5 years to reach its full height and spread of 3 feet or so.

How tall does Calathea ornata grow? 

Calathea ornata will grow to about 3 feet tall when grown indoors as a potted plant. When planted in the ground in a tropical region, it can reach 9 feet. 

How to make Calathea ornata grow faster? 

Calathea ornata will grow its fastest when it is kept in a warm to hot environment with high humidity and consistently moist soil. Too shady a spot will halt growth.

How to stake Calathea ornata? 

The stems of Calathea ornata are stiff and grow upright naturally, so it does not need any staking. It is also not suited to being grown as a trailing plant.

How to pot Calathea ornata? 

Calathea ornata should be potted in a plastic or glazed container to conserve moisture. It also must have a drainage hole to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

How to revive Calathea ornata? 

If your Calathea ornata has dried out, put the whole pot into enough water to cover it, and let the soil absorb all the water it can before letting the excess drain out.

Why is my Calathea ornata dying? 

Your Calathea ornata may have a fungal or bacterial disease that is causing the leaves to discolor or droop. Cut out all affected foliage and repot in fresh soil.

Why is my Calathea ornata drooping? 

If your Calathea ornata is drooping, it might have too much water, or not enough. Check the soil’s moisture levels and either water thoroughly or repot in more porous soil.

How cold can Calathea ornata tolerate? 

Calathea ornata will grow well to as low as about 65ºF (18ºC), but growth will stop below 60°F (15°C), and freezing temperatures will kill it.

How to get rid of pests on Calathea ornata? 

Calathea ornata pests can usually be prevented by wiping the leaves monthly with a damp cloth with a couple of drops of neem oil or some insecticidal soap.

Is Calathea ornata toxic to cats? 

No, Calathea ornata is not toxic to cats. However, if your cat eats too much of the leaves it may get an upset stomach, resulting in vomiting.

Is Calathea ornata toxic to dogs? 

No, Calathea ornata is not toxic to dogs. However, dogs will have trouble digesting too much vegetation, so they may throw up to relieve their upset stomach.

Is Calathea ornata toxic to children? 

No, Calathea ornata is not toxic to children. However, they may be sensitive to insecticides or fungicides you have used on the plants, so exercise caution.

Is Calathea ornata toxic to humans? 

No, Calathea ornata is not toxic to humans. It is safe to use in any setting, and the sap is not known to be an allergen for anyone.

Does Calathea ornata have a scent? 

Calathea ornata are rare and are not reported to have a scent, and the foliage is fragrance-free, making it suitable for use around even fragrance-sensitive individuals.

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