Calathea Ornata Complete Houseplant Care Guide

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The Calathea Ornata is a unique looking plant with bright pink stripes across the foliage. This plant thrives on high humidity just like other Calatheas.

Calatheas are known for being on the high maintenance side so follow these instructions to make sure your plant not only survives, but thrives in its new home.

Calathea Ornata main care directions.

  1. Water. Water Calathea Ornata when the top inch of the soil is dry. This plant likes to stay on the moist side.
  2. Light. Place your Calathea Ornata in bright indirect sunlight. A south, east, or west facing window is best.
  3. Fertilizer. Fertilize your plant with a natural or synthetic fertilizer. If using a synthetic fertilizer, make sure to dilute the recipe in half. You’ll know if you’re using a synthetic fertilize if the NPK ratio is something like 20-20-20.
  4. Humidity. Calathea’s are known for being sassy if not given adequate humidity. Keep your plant in the 60%+ range of humidity.

calathea ornata


Calathea Ornata’s thrives on bright indirect sunlight. This could be in a north, south, or west facing window that is a few feet away from the window.

If you don’t have sufficient lighting coming into the home, plant grow lights work great. I use T5 Barrina plant grow lights and run them on a timer for 13 hours a day. I love plant grow lights because this means I can have plants in areas receiving absolutely no sunlight and still get to grow beautiful plants.

You never want your Calathea Ornata sitting in direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves.


It’s important to keep your Calathea Ornata’s soil on the moist side. When you stick an inch of your finger in, is the soil moist or dry?

If the soil is dry, it’s time to give your plant a thorough watering. Just like other Calathea’s, this plant doesn’t like to completely dry out.

If you’re having trouble figuring out when to water your plants, a moisture meter is also a great option. Moisture meters are easy to use. All you do is stick the meter into the soil and if the meter is reading closer to the dry side, it’s time to water your plants.

One of the most common reasons people kill their plants is because they are watering their plants too much. Your houseplants probably need way less water than you think.


Make sure your your Calathea Ornata has well-draining soil. A dense soil can lead to root rot and this is what most plants at big box stores are often planted in.

You can make things even easier by purchasing a bag of Fox Farm Ocean Forest organic mix which is packaged with no extra steps involved. Many houseplant enthusiasts use an aroid recipe involving 5+ ingredients, but I like to keep things simple by using a pre-made organic soil mix.


Calathea Ornata’s thrive in average household temperatures of 65°F-80°F (18°C-26°C). Do not place this plant near drafty areas like windows, doors, or vents.


During active growing months which is typically spring through fall, fertilize your Calathea Ornata with a natural or synthetic fertilizer.

If you are using a non-organic, synthetic fertilizer, dilute the recipe in half. This is because the NPK ratios are incredibly high and your plant can suffer from too much fertilizer. If you are using an organic fertilizer, you typically do not have to worry about diluting the recipe because the N-P-K ratio is so low.

For fertilizer, I use Key Grow Solutions Blue Butterfly and I’ll sometimes switch to Dyna Gro Grow. I do not dilute the recipe since this plant food has low NPK ratios. I mix a spoonful of one of these fertilizers into a gallon of water and use this gallon to water all of my houseplants.


Calathea Ornata’s thrive on high humidity and need at least 50% humidity conditions. This plant may do well in a bathroom or in a greenhouse cabinet with high humidity.

To increase humidity, I recommend placing your plant near other high humidity plants to create a microclimate. You can also place your plant near a humidifier and use a hygrometer to make sure your plant is receiving at least 50% humidity.


Propagating a Calathea Ornata is different from other plants. You propagate this plant by root division, not stem cuttings like other houseplants. Take this plant out of its pot and divide the plant into sections to create more plants.

Calathea Ornata Common Questions

Is Calathea Ornata rare?

Calathea Ornata’s are often found at plant stores but not often found at big box stores like Lowes or Home Depot.

Is Calathea Ornata hard to care for?

Calathea’s are notorious for being high maintenance plants and even houseplant enthusiasts stay away from them. These are not beginner plants and they require high humidity in order to thrive in your home.

This isn’t a Calathea Ornate pictured below, but instead a Calathea Medallion. Here I’m showing an example of how Calathea’s can be so sassy and get crispy if not given enough humidity.

How do you care for Calathea Ornata?

Calathea Ornata need high humidity above 50%, bright indirect sunlight, and well-draining moist soil.

Is Calathea Ornata a fast grower?

These plants do not grow fast. Typically with Calathea’s, a lower leaf will die off in order to produce new growth up top.

How big does Calathea Ornata grow?

Outside in its natural habitat, Calathea Ornata can grow up to 9 feet tall. In your house, your plant will not get anywhere close to that. Expect your plant to reach 2-3 feet in your home.

Where should I keep my Calathea?

In order for your Calathea Ornata to thrive, place your plant in a north, south, or west facing room that gets bright indirect sunlight.

Do not place this plant near a draft like a window, door that leads to the outside, or vent. Keep your plant in a space that gets high humidity.

Can I place my Calathea Ornata outside?

Calathea Ornata’s can be grown outside in hardiness zones of 8-12, but I personally wouldn’t put this plant outside since it is such a high maintenance plant.

How do you make Calathea Ornata bushy?

Make your Calathea Ornata look more full by fertilizing your plant with adequate nutrients and giving it water when the top inch of the plant is dry.

Also make sure your plant is receiving bright indirect sunlight.

What is wrong with my Calathea Ornata?

Calathea’s are sassy, high maintenance plants and if you find your Calathea looks sad, this is most likely due to the plant not getting enough humidity.

Make sure your plant is receiving at least 50% humidity. Use a hygrometer to check the humidity around your plant. Place a humidifier by your Calathea Ornata or move your plant to a bathroom where there’s daily high humidity.

How do I know if my Calathea is happy?

If your plant is actively growing, not getting crispy or yellowing leaves, your Calathea Ornata is most likely happy.

Can Calathea grow in bathroom?

Calathea’s love bathrooms because of the consistent high humidity. Many people choose to place their Calathea Ornata in a bathroom for this very reason.

What is the difference between Calathea Ornata and Sanderiana?

There is no difference between the Calathea Ornata and the Sanderiana. These are the same plants that have different names. This plant is also sometimes called the “pinstripe” calathea.

Should I cut yellow leaves off Calathea?

As Calathea’s grow and mature, the bottom leaves might yellow so the plant can produce new leaves on top. You can remove the yellow leaves so the plant focuses on new growth.

Calatheas can be difficult because of their needs of moist soil and higher than average humidity.

How much is a Calathea Ornata?

Calathea Ornata’s are relatively affordable plants. You can purchase a 4 inch pot for around $15 at a plant store.

Can I water my Calathea Ornata using tap water?

Calathea Ornata’s do not like tap water and instead prefer distilled or reverse osmosis water. Tap water often contains harmful chemicals that Calathea Ornata’s are sensitive to.

Is the Calathea Ornata toxic to pets?

No, this plant is not toxic to pets.  You can get more information on toxic and pet-friendly plants at ASPCA here.

Common pests

Calathea’s are prone to spidermites but don’t let that deter you from getting this plant. As long as you actively preventing pests, you’ll be fine.

To help prevent any pest infestations on your plant, here’s what to do.

  • Inspect your plant before purchasing at the plant store. Turn on your phones flashlight and check both sides of the leaves, the stems, and the soil for bugs.
  • Quarantine your new plant in a room away from your other houseplants for two weeks. This gives you time to make sure there are no pests on your plant.
  • Use an organic or synthetic pesticide on your plant. I use Azamax and Bonide Systemic Granules on my plants.
  • Regularly check your plants for pests. This is also a great time to clean your plants.
  • Cut off dead leaves.

If you find a plant that has pests on it, quarantine the plant away from your houseplants and clean the plant with an organic or nonorganic insecticide.

I use Bonide Systemic on my plants as a preventative and find it’s incredibly effective for getting rid of unwanted pests, particularly fungus gnats.

Make sure to check all of your other plants as it is easy for pests to spread.

Bonide Systemic Granules are a great way to get rid of unwanted pests.

Common issues

Brown tips: If your Calathea Ornata has brown tips, this may mean your plant is not receiving adequate humidity. Make sure your plant is receiving at least 60%+ humidity.

Yellowing leaves: If your Calathea Ornata has yellow leaves, this may be a sign of under watering. Make sure you’re keeping your plants soil moist and watering every time the top inch dries out.

Curly leaves: If your Calathea Ornata has curling leaves, this may mean your plant is placed in a drafty spot. Move your plant to a spot getting bright indirect sunlight away from a door leading outside, window, or vent. Curling leaves can also mean your plant is thirsty.

Key Points To Remember

Calathea Ornata’s can thrive as long as they are properly cared for. Make sure to place your plant in an area getting bright indirect sunlight and at least 60% humidity.

Do not water your plant with tap water and make sure to water your plant when the top inch of the soil is dry. You can keep a Calathea alive, but it’ll definitely be a learning process.

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