Calathea Ornata Guide: How to Grow and Care for the “Pinstripe Plant”

Read our guide to the Calathea Ornata Plant for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing & caring for the "Pinstripe Plant"
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Oversized dark green leaves accented by delicate pink stripes, the calathea ornata (also known as the “pin stripe” plant, for good reason) offers a show display that adds drama and interest to any indoor space; hence why it is such a popular houseplant.

While it is undeniably beautiful, it can be a bit high-maintenance and a kind of hard to care for. Whether you have recently purchased a pin stripe plant for yourself or someone has given you one, knowing how to properly care for it is crucial.

While it’s true that it can be fussy, with the right tips and advice, you can successfully maintain a healthy and beautiful calathea ornata. Read on to learn more about this incredible houseplant, including watering tips, soil requirements, feeding needs, and more.

Calathea Ornata: An Overview

  • The calathea ornata is a perennial leafy plant and a member of the family of plants known as “prayer plants”, as the leaves rise and lower in response to the sunlight. Native to the South American countries of Columbia and Venezuela, it is a tropical plant that grows warm, moist, forests.
  • Calathea ornata is often referred to as the “pin stripe” plant, due to its ornate foliate. The leaves are dark green in color and they are accented by whitish or pink stripes. The contrast of the two colors makes for a captivating display that is certainly pleasing to look at. As the leaves rise and fall in response to the sun, the purplish-magenta undersides are exposed, which further adds to the beauty of this plant.
  • The leaves are oblong in shape and have a glossy finish. New growth emerges from the center of the plant, and the leaves are situated at the end of long stems. Fully mature plants can reach heights of 3 to 9 feet in their natural habitat; however, when grown indoors, the pin stripe plant usually does not stand more than 3 feet tall and reach more than 3 feet wide.
  • As a tropical plant, it needs to remain indoors during cold weather; hence why it is such a popular choice for indoor gardens. However, as long as the temperature is right, it can sustain outdoor conditions and would make a beautiful accent on a porch, patio, or deck. It’s best to keep the pin stripe plant in a pot so that it can be transported from the indoors to the outdoors, as needed.
  • In nature, the pin stripe plant can grow flowers; however, indoors, it rarely blooms. The absence of flowers isn’t a concern, as the foliage is so striking that the leaves make a bold statement on their own. Between the months of March and October, the pin stripe plant grow actively in its natural setting, as the soil is the most moist between these months in its native environment.
  • In order to ensure that the calathea ornata reaches its full potential, it’s important to ensure that it’s provided with the care that it requires. Because it is a bit fussy, as mentioned, it likely wouldn’t be ideal for a beginner indoor gardener, as it does require a bit more care.
Stunning leaves Calathea Ornata
Stunning leaves Calathea Ornata

Growing and Caring for a Calathea Ornata

From watering to feeding, and from light requirements and the optimal setting, below, you’ll find how to properly grow and care for a calathea ornata, or pin stripe plant.

The Ideal Location

Location plays a big part in your success with a pin stripe plant, as the setting dictates the conditions it will be exposed to. Because it’s a tropical plant, it prefers bright, yet indirect sunlight. Lighting is one of the reasons why this plant is so fussy.

If this prayer plant isn’t provided with enough light, it’s growth will be stunted; however, if it is exposed to high amounts of direct sunlight, the delicate leaves of the plant will burn.

Calathea ornata is native to the rainforests of South America. As such, it has adapted to being shaded by taller plants and trees. If it is placed in direct sunlight, the leaves will burn, and eventually, the plant will perish.

Calathea ornata growing in pots
Calathea ornata growing in pots

When choosing a location for your pin stripe plant, make sure that it won’t be exposed to bright, direct sunlight. If you aren’t too sure about the amount of sunlight it is receiving, keep a close watch on the leaves. If it looks as if the leaves are starting to lose their stripes, it’s getting too much sunlight and it needs to be moved.

The ideal location is one that is bright, yet won’t shed sun directly on the plant. An east-facing window that is covered by a shade or a curtain would be the ideal location for this indoor plant.

When discussing the location for the calathea ornata, the type of container it is planted it is also an important factor to discuss. This plant can be placed in a pot, container, or planter that offers plenty of room for root growth and that features drainage holes along the bottom.

Soil Requirements

As a tropical plant, the calathea ornata thrives in moist, well-draining soil. While the soil should retain ample amounts of water, it shouldn’t be standing, and it should allow the plant to breathe.

A heavy, compact soil isn’t ideal, as it can retain too much moisture and ultimate, they roots can develop rot and die, or pests can be attracted to the plant. Choose a potting soil that is made specifically for tropical plants.

It should have a slightly acidic pH level. If necessary, you can mix peat or small amounts of aggregate into the soil; however, avoid adding too much, as the soil could become compact, which would lead to high amounts of water retention.

Calathea Ornata also known as a "Pinstripe" plant
Calathea Ornata also known as a “Pinstripe” plant

Watering a Calathea Ornata

Water is vital for all species of plants, and the calathea ornata is no different. As a tropical plant, it loves moisture. The soil should always be moist, but it shouldn’t be completely saturated.

To determine when it needs to be watered, feel the soil. If the top inch or two feels dry, it’s time to water it. On average, it should be watered at least once a week, if not more; depending on where the plant is located and what type of soil it is growing in.

Humidity Levels

Again, because this is a tropical plant, humidity plays an important role in a pin stripe plant’s health. in order to mimic the native conditions, this plant requires a great deal of humidity.

To achieve appropriate humidity levels, you can spray the undersides and tops of the leaves on a daily basis in the morning. Misting in the morning is important, as doing so will allow the leaves to dry out throughout the course of the day.

Alternatively, you could set up a humidifier, which would allow the plant to receive the humidity that it requires without demanding extra work from you.

Pin Stripe Calathea, Live Plant from Amazon

Pet Problems

Unfortunately, calathea ornata is prone to some pests. Spider mites are the most troublesome pests; but, with routine maintenance, you should be able to prevent them from infiltrating your plant.

Cleaning the leaves with a mixture of dish soap and water in a spray bottle is an easy and effective way to keep spider mites at bay. The combination of the two will suffocate any pests that may be lurking on the leaves.

Once you have completed the treatment, wipe the leaves down to remove the soap. Repeat the process once every few weeks.

Warning Signs

The calathea pin stripe plant can be a bit temperamental. Fortunately, the plant will send some warning signs that it needs help before it is completely lost. If it seems like the color of the leaves are lighter green as opposed to dark green, if the beloved stripes are starting to fade, or if the leaves look as if they are turning yellow or white, those are all signs that your pin stripe plant needs some help.

Take a deep breathe, because your plant isn’t dying… yet. As long as you make changes to the care you are providing, you’ll be able to resuscitate your plant and return it to a flourishing state.

Some of the issues that could be at play include:

  • A dry environment. Remember, these plants are tropical, and as such, they require adequate humidity.
  • Lack of water. In addition to humidity, pin stripe plants require ample amounts of water. If your plant is starting to show signs of trouble, it may be a sign that you aren’t watering it enough.
  • Poor drainage. A failing calathea ornata could be a sign that the soil isn’t draining properly. While this plant does need plenty of water, the soil does need to drain properly. If the drainage isn’t adequate, the plant could drown.
  • Pests.  If you start seeing holes in the middle of or fringes on the edge of the leaves, pests may be infiltrating your plant.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, make sure you address them as soon as possible. If you don’t, you could end up losing your plant.


A calathea ornata or pin stripe plant is a stunning houseplant that can provide years of enjoyment if it’s properly cared for. With the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to keep your pin stripe plant healthy and beautiful for years to come.


Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

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