How to Grow and Care for Calathea Ornata

Front, slightly raised view of a calathea ornata houseplant

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

With their colorfully patterned leaves, calatheas are some of the prettiest houseplants out there. Calathea ornata is one of the most elegant types. Its wide, pointed dark green leaves marked with sets of thin stripes in creamy white or pink give it the nickname "pinstripe plant." These attractive tropics aren't the easiest to grow indoors, but you can help them thrive with some basic care.

Place your Calathea ornata in a spot with bright, indirect light, temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees, and high humidity. Use a peat-based potting soil and water your plant regularly so the soil stays lightly moist but not soggy. Fertilize monthly through the growing season. Read on for everything you need to know to grow Calathea ornata in your home.

 Common Name:  Pinstripe plant, pinstripe calathea
 Botanical Name:   Goeppertia ornata (formerly Calathea ornata)
 Family:   Marantaceae
 Plant Type:   Perennial
 Mature Size:  2-3 ft. tall and wide
 Sun Exposure:   Bright indirect light
 Soil Type:   Moist, well-drained soil
 Soil pH:   Neutral
 Native Area:   South and Central America
 Toxicity:   Non-toxic to humans and pets

Calathea Ornata Care

Caring for calatheas can be tricky even for more experienced indoor gardeners, and Calathea ornata is no different. Like its cousins Calathea 'White Fusion' and Calathea orbifolia, Calathea ornata needs lots of humidity, a consistent watering schedule, and adequate light to thrive. Here's how to care for this beautiful plant.

Closeup of a calathea ornata leaf showing striations

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

Overhead view of a calathea ornata houseplant

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong


Give your Calathea ornata bright to medium indirect light. This plant is a great option for a north, east, or west-facing window; the harsh direct light of a south-facing window can be too strong.


Calathea ornata will grow best in a loose, well-draining potting mix that holds onto moisture. A peat-based mix is ideal—you can make your own by combining two parts peat moss, two parts orchid bark, two parts perlite, and one part organic compost. Some growers prefer to use a ready-made potting mix designed for African violets for their calatheas.


Water your Calathea ornata consistently so that the soil stays moist but not soggy. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can kill the plant. Avoid letting the soil dry out beyond the top inch or so between waterings.

Temperature and Humidity

Keep this tropical plant in a place with moderate temperatures and lots of humidity. If your space is particularly dry, group your plant in with other plants in your collection to help create a more humid microclimate, or run a humidifier nearby to add moisture to the air.


Feed your Calathea ornata with an organic liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength every two weeks during spring and summer. Stop fertilizing in the fall, when the plant goes dormant for the winter. Resume fertilizing the following spring.

full frame of calathea ornata plants with pink pinstripes on dark green leaves

wahid hasyim asyari/Getty


Use sharp, sterilized shears or scissors to cut away any brown or shriveled leaves at the base to keep your Calathea ornata looking healthy. You can also trim away any browned or dried-out leaf margins while leaving the rest of the leaf on the plant. Take care not to cut away more than about a third of your plant's leaves to avoid damaging its growth.

Propagating Calathea Ornata

You can propagate Calathea ornata by dividing a mature, healthy plant. It's best to do this during repotting to avoid disturbing the plant more than once per year. Plant to repot and divide in spring or early summer during the plant's active growth period for best results. You'll need an appropriately sized container for the new plants, fresh potting mix, gardening gloves, and possibly a clean, sharp serrated knife. Here's how to propagate Calathea ornata by division.

  1. Carefully tip your plant out of the pot and examine the root ball. When dividing plants, we typically loosen the soil around the root ball, but calatheas don't like to be disturbed. Try to avoid disturbing the roots during division.
  2. Look for clumps of roots around the edges of the root ball that have leaves attached. Gently pull away as many as you'd like to propagate into new plants.
  3. Fill an empty plant pot halfway with fresh soil. Plant the divisions and fill in the containers with soil so that the soil line is at the same level as it was on the original plant.
  4. Calatheas are susceptible to transplant shock, so put the divisions in a warm place with bright, indirect light to recover.

Tent a clear plastic bag over the plants to create a humid microclimate that will help the divisions establish. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. When you see new growth, you can remove the plastic and care for the plant as usual.

Potting and Repotting Calathea Ornata

Your Calathea ornata will benefit from repotting once per year in a container one size larger than the previous pot. Use fresh soil, examine the roots, and cut away any rot while disturbing the root ball as little as possible. If you're not ready to repot, you can leave the plant in its container for more than a year as long as it's not showing signs of being root bound, such as roots coming out of the holes in the bottom of the container.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Calathea ornata generally isn't prone to pest issues, but it can be affected by houseplant pests like spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, white flies, and scale. The best way to avoid pests is to prevent them with a few best practices: Examine plants carefully for signs of pests before buying, quarantine plants that show signs of an infestation, and keep an eye on your plants to spot pests and eliminate them early. Treat insect pests with organic pesticides like neem oil or remove them with horticultural soap. Cut away badly affected portions of the plant, bag them up, and put them in the trash outside to keep them from affecting your other plants.

Common Problems With Calathea Ornata

Calatheas aren't the easiest houseplants to please, but most issues can be remedied by adjusting the plant's environmental conditions or watering more consistently. Here are some common problems with Calathea ornata and their causes.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves are your plant's way of telling you it needs a drink. If your plant's leaves are curling, give it a good soaking. Keep an eye on the soil moisture to avoid drying out.

Leaves Turning Brown

Browning leaves can indicate a few different issues, including cold drafts, dry air, or too much sun. Consider your plant's conditions and make adjustments.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing leaves can mean your plant is getting too much water. In severe cases, they can be a sign of root rot. Cut back on watering immediately. If that doesn't help, repot your plant in fresh soil and cut away any black, rotten roots in the process.

  • How often do you water Calathea ornata?

    Water your Calathea ornata as soon as the soil shows signs of drying out. Monitor the soil moisture regularly. Note that you may need to water less frequently in the winter.

  • Is Calathea ornata toxic?

    No. Calathea ornata is non-toxic to humans, cats, dogs, and horses.

  • How big can a Calathea ornata grow?

    When grown as a houseplant, you can expect Calathea ornata to grow as large as two to three feet tall and wide.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.