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Let’s say you decided to buy a beautiful plant that caught your eye in a nursery but you have no idea what its name is.
All you know is that its size and gorgeous color-striped leaves made you fall in love with it.
The salesman told you it is great for home and the next thing you know you are driving home with a new colorful plant on your back seat.
To keep you in the loop, your new plant is called Calathea Ornata, but it had gotten many names over the years.
There are numerous types of Calatheas, so feel free to check them all out!
In this article, I will cover basics on Calathea Ornata care:
- What is Calathea Ornata?
- Different types of Calathea
- How to Care for Ornata
- Light needs
- Right humidity
- Fertilization tips
- Additional tips
- Common problems
What is Calathea Ornata?
Calathea Ornata is a tropical plant that lives in areas like Central and South America, Thailand, and other parts of the world that have a tropical climate.
Because of its looks and practicality to be grown indoors and on the porch or a backyard of a house, people started buying it for their homes and taking care of it.
This plant is usually called calathea, as a shorter form, but it has many other names like pinstripe plant, the peacock plant, zebra plant, or cathedral plant, which all came from the look of its leaves.
Calathea ornata is often being called the prayer plant (even though it is a name for a different yet similar plant) because its special light-green plant joints allow the leaves to move up and down during the day.
This motion is similar to the one people from certain religions do with their hands when they pray.
This plant is popular because of its form and size. This size of 2 feet hight and 2 feet width makes it easy to place this plant indoors. Plus, its look fits perfectly in a white room that does not has many colorful detailing.
The leaves of calathea ornata are oval with a tiny sharp-looking tip.
Their bottom is purple (their colors go from dark purple to crimson) and their upper part is colored with a variety of green and creamy colors.
The basic color of the leaf is dark green but its lateral veins are colored with pink, beige, and yellowish colors and shades that give this plant a vibrant and intriguing look that takes your breath away.
The stem is dark green if it is healthy, all the way from the soil to the joint. The joints are light-green and they enable the leaves to move and follow the indirect light the calathea is supposed to be getting daily.
The dark green leaves keep the indirect light in plant’s cells longer, providing the plant to improve its photosynthesis.
Calatheas, in general, are considered to be demanding, but that isn’t true if you know what to pay attention to!
Calathea Orbifolia is just one more example of Calatheas’ beauty and elegance.
Different Types of Calathea
Since now we’ve established that this plant has high chances of living a healthy life in the household and will most likely catch your eye in a nursery or someone’s house, it is time to give you advice on how to properly take care of yours and how to keep it in a beautiful shape it was born to be in.
As said, there are a lot of different types of Calathea, and these are just some of them:
- Calathea Rufibarba
- Calathea Zebrina
- Calathea Lancifolia
- Calathea Vittata
- Calathea Medallion
- Calathea Leitzei
- Calathea Makoyana
- Calathea Roseopicta
- Calathea Network
- Calathea Orbifolia
- Calathea Beauty Star
- Calathea Fasciata
Related: Calathea – The Ultimate Caring Guide
How to Take the Best Care of Calathea Ornata?
When it comes to taking care of plants indoors there are a few things that need paying attention to like watering, humidity, soil moisture, fertilization, light exposal, temperature, pots, etc.
Even though all these things are important to be kept in mind for every plant, calatheas are more demanding so you need to follow these tips in order to keep your plant happy and healthy.
Calathea ornata is a highly demanding plant to be taken care of. It is known to be a drama queen among the plants because of its sensitivity and animosity to certain changes.
So, when it comes to growing a calathea or simply taking care of it, this is what you have to do to keep it healthy and beautiful.
Watering Calathea Ornata
This factor is literally the most important one of all, and when I say this I am thinking of every single plant on this planet.
Water is a necessary ingredient for the process called photosynthesis. It is being absorbed from the soil, traveling through a stem of the plant and evaporating through the leaves at the end.
The proper kind of water for watering calathea ornata is distilled water or tap water that was sitting out 24 or 48 hours after being poured in a bottle or a vessel used for watering this particular plant.
Tap water is intense for calathea ornata because it contains salts, minerals, and certain chemicals like chlorine that are not pleasant for this plant.
Bottled and purified water also contain minerals that do not seem to go well with calathea ornata.
This plant needs watering when there is only an inch or less of moist soil. You can check the moisture of the soil by putting your finger in the soil from the upper side or by using a special device called the water meter.
The water meter measures moisture of the soil and shows if the soil in the pot is dry, moist or wet.
The roots of calathea ornata are very sensitive and need constant draining. If the soil is wet, water will stick to the roots, thus preventing the roots to get the oxygen needed for the plant’s well-being.
Calathea ornata should be watered little and often during spring and summer when it can actually stay on your deck or porch, depending on the area you live in when during the fall and winter they should be watered less often.
During the colder months that occur in autumn and winter, the humidity is higher so calathea does not need that much watering as it does when the weather is warmer and drier like it is during summer and spring.
If you underwater your plant it will dry and wilt, so pay attention to the watering process because it is very important.
Related: Best Plant Humidifiers and a Buying Guide.
Light Needs of Calathea Ornata
Proper lighting and watering are the keys to your calathea’s health and well-being.
Due to the fact that calathea ornata has a tropical origin, it needs indirect light that is coming in through a window.
Based on the size of the window and the light that comes in the room, you should visually decide where to put your plant so it can gain enough indirect light.
Calathea ornata is a short plant that is in the partial shade of bigger plants that are surrounding it when it is in its natural habitat – a tropical forest – which is why it needs indirect light.
If you put your calathea ornata at the direct sunlight it will ‘’burn’’ and wilt within a few hours.
Direct sunlight will quickly dry the soil the calathea grows in and negative signs will start to show up on the leaves very soon. The leaves will start browning and curling at the edges, which are signs of bad treatment.
Also, there are many reasons the leaves of calathea can show bad signs but that will be explained in some of the following chapters.
During the day calathea’s leaves are following the light to capture as much light as possible so in the night it can lift its leaves as it is finished with doing photosynthesis.
Plants that follow the sun with their leaves or flowers are called heliotropic plants like calathea ornata is.
You simply can’t choose the location of your plant based on your decoration preferences because you have to make sure it has the proper lighting.
Right Humidity for Calathea Ornata
By now it is already known that calathea is a tropical plant so it is exposed to high amounts of humidity since there are a lot of rains in tropical forests.
Calathea needs humidity that is over 50% which is more than it is present in any house, so you need to apply alternative ways of providing the humidity your plant needs.
To provide the right amount of humidity in your home for your calathea ornata it is best to use humidifiers.
These devices provide the humidity you need for your plant and all you need to do is put them next to your calathea ornata.
But, these devices have to be cleaned regularly (every couple of days) because of the mold that is created on the inside of the devices, so it can be time and energy-consuming to humidify the air this way.
Luckily, there are other ways, like putting the glasses of water next to the plant because it will eventually start to evaporate because of the temperature difference, which will provide a certain amount of humidity for the plant.
When it comes to choosing the location of your plant you will decrease the humidity by putting calathea next to an air conditioning or heating vent and heat registers.
The proper humidity can also be achieved by misting the leaves with clear water once to 3 times a day, depending on your time and energy.
This process naturally happens in tropical forests when it rains but, unfortunately, when you decide to grow calathea ornata at your home you need to do this artificially by misting.
Fertilization of Calathea Ornata
Fertilizers are meant to improve your plant’s health, looks, speed of growth, etc., but if you start using a fertilizer that is not meant for your plant then you are only going to make it worse and achieve the opposite of what you wanted.
So, this being said, fertilizers need to be chosen correctly and carefully.
During spring and summer calathea ornata’s soil should be fertilized every 2 weeks or so, while during the colder months it does not need fertilization at all.
The safest way to go is to use a half-strength fertilizer and the one that is more diluted because calathea ornata is quite finicky, so you want to avoid burning the leaves.
These fertilizers go well with high-quality plastering potting soil and this soil is the best because it ables the water to drain and not suffocate calathea ornata by creating a dump in the pot, thus causing the leaves to droop.
Unfortunately, even if you do take some preventive measures when fertilizing, your calathea can burn if you do not dilute the fertilizer enough (at the appropriate measure).
Best Temperature for Calathea Ornata
The ideal temperature range for calathea ornata is 18 ° C to 29 ° C which is typical for tropical climate from which it originally came.
These temperatures are hard to maintain in the house during the summer, especially if you prefer cooler living conditions, so you can take your calathea outside every time the temperature is optimal and is satisfying the range mentioned above.
Depending on where you live, you can take your calathea out when it is spring because, as I said, all it matters is that the temperature range is fulfilled.
One of the crucial things you should avoid is letting your plant be cold. This is very important because once your calathea spends a few hours in a cold place that has the temperature bellow 18 ° C, it will wilt and from that point there is no way bringing it back to life.
Unfortunately, this is a conditio sine qua non, so be careful when setting the room temperature for your plant and make sure to take it out only when the temperature is optimal for calathea ornata.
Additional Tips on Caring for Calathea Ornata
1. Provide the room with air circulation
No matter where you decided to keep your calathea ornata, you have to make sure that (besides all of the things above) the room air can circulate.
If you don’t have enough time to draft the room a few times a day, there is an easy solution.
The easiest way to make the room air circulate is to get a fan, preferably the one with a rotating head so it can move the air to and from your plant, thus providing your plant a healthy life without pests.
The fan does not need to be too close to the plant, but the leaves of calathea ornata need to move a bit. That is the sign that the position of the fan is good for your calathea.
2. Choose the right pot
When it comes to choosing the right pot for your calathea ornata there is not much you can do wrong.
The most important thing is that the pot you choose has drainage holes at its bottom because it is crucial for water to drain properly, without lingering on the plant’s roots.
When roots become ‘’soaked’’ and they can’t get to the oxygen they need to get and transfer to the other parts of the plant. Those roots are then becoming rot roots.
3. Make sure your plant has enough soil
The soil from your pot can be expendable because of the calathea’s growing, watering, draining, etc., so make sure to check how much soil does your calathea ornata actually has.
Simply put the plant out of the pot, add some new soil to the bottom of the pot, and put your calathea back.
If the new soil you had just added was not moist enough you can sink it in distilled water for a few minutes and you will have your calathea happy again.
This situation is not too damaging for this plant but it would be very good if you could check the amount of the soil in the pot from time to time.
Plants that have bigger roots can end up in a bad place if they run out of the needed amount of soil, while calathea ornata has smaller and softer roots so it won’t suffer a lot if you forget on its soil level when it has a half of the soil left.
4. Keep your calathea ornata clean
Nature made sure that everything and everyone has to take care of their hygiene.
This is not only the case with calathea. Every plant, especially the one with big leaves, can get dirty.
This so-called dirt comes from the process of transpiration and dust that is simply increasing on the leaves day by day.
You can use a rag that was put in clean water and drained and then gently wipe the leaves so they can be clean and get that shine that the new leaves have.
You can also use different oils like horticultural oils or a neem oil solution because they give the leaves the special glow and beautiful look so the calathea’s colors can come to the fore.
Fortunately, there is no rain in your house so you have to clean your calathea manually and give her the attention she needs and deserves.
Due to its origin, it is used to being cleansed when the rain falls but since that is not possible indoors you have to grab the rag and start to wipe.
Neem oil is a natural pesticide so applying it on the leaves of calathea ornata will keep your plant safe and away from the spider mites and other pests that are commonly afflicting calathea ornata.
5. Repotting every 2 years is more than enough
Plants generally don’t like being repotted often because they have to get used to the new pot plus their roots can damage during repotting.
Buying new pots all the time is fine but there is no need for a plant to suffer just because you want it to look prettier in your home, to match your wallpapers or something like that.
Aesthetics play no parts when it comes to this, you have to admire the beauty of calathea ornata itself.
6. Pay attention to how much you prune your plant
Pruning calathea ornata is good and healthy for her but over-pruning is not, so you have to know when to stop.
Pruning is necessary because it provides your plant enough space it needs. After all, it is constantly growing if it is healthy and being very well taken care of.
Some approximate recommendation for pruning is half of a plant. It is enough to shape it the way you want and just make it look nice and healthy.
The safest way is to prune a quarter by a quarter, which is not always easy because calathea ornata has a special shape and its leaves are moving so you really have to make sure you are pruning the right parts.
The maximum advised amount for pruning is around a half of a plant, but if you trim it too much your calathea ornata won’t be able to recover.
7. Wash your plant in the shade
If you have more than one calathea for example and decide to wash them all at once because it is difficult for you to wipe all the leaves manually, one by one, you can take your plants outside and wash them with a weak water-flow from a hose.
Of course, you want your calatheas to dry as quickly as possible and to enjoy the sun, but never wash your plants in the sun!
The calathea leaves can easily sunburn if they are being washed in the sun and not in the shade.
It is comfortable for them to dry in the shade, so don’t be fooled by this. Be careful.
8. Get rid of pests when you notice them
Pests are a common phenomenon on plants so if you see some on your calathea ornata it does not mean you had done something wrong, but you need to solve this issue.
The good thing to do is to check the leaves every time you are watering your plant because that way you are daily checking your calathea for pests and it is very important to act as soon as you spot some pests.
Calathea ornata is most likely to be afflicted by pests like spider mites, scale, mealybug, and aphids, but it can also suffer from some diseases that are usually caused by bacterias and fungus.
As mentioned in the Air circulation section, you can prevent pests affliction by having a fan that makes the room air flows near your calathea ornata.
To get rid of pests you can use strong water flow from the hose that will wash away all the pests on your plant.
Common Problems of Calathea Ornata Care
Many things can cause the leaves of your calathea ornata to change its colors, become brown or curve on the edges.
Some of these things can even lead to the wilting of your plant.
The main reason these ugly problems occur is the fact that your calathea has been over or under watered, which is easy to check with your finger or a water meter.
This problem is easily solved by draining or watering your plant. It takes a few weeks for it to get its usual glam and recover completely.
Using tap water right after you have poured it in a bottle for the watering can cause these changes if it is immediately used for watering calathea.
Tap water takes time to get rid of all unwanted elements it has, before being used for watering calathea.
These negative changes can be seen if you use synthetic fertilizer or the one that is not diluted enough. This way the leaves burn and become shaped and colored this way.
Humidity is also a big causer of these negative changes like the ones mentioned above.
All of the changes the calathea ornata is going through (both good and bad) are coming from its roots and are seen on its leaves.
1. How often should I water my Calathea Ornata?
Calathea Ornata doesn’t like when it is heavily watered, so try to develop a habit of feeling out the soil before you water it and now counting the days.
You should water it when the top inch of the soil is dry (that would be around 2.5cm). Of course, it all depends on the season, room conditions, climate, etc.
Naturally, you will have to water it more frequently during the summer months and go easy on watering during winter.
2. Should I mist my Calathea Ornata and how?
Misting Calathea Ornata can help in keeping that nice humidity that Calathea likes so much.
However, do pay attention to how you do the misting! Never mist it so that the droplets of water fall on the foliage.
Instead, try to mist it from underneath the plant.
Taking that there is a big difference in water temperature and temperature of the surrounding, these droplets can hurt and burn the leaves of your Calathea Ornata.
3. Is it okay to grow Calathea Ornata in low-lit room?
Calathea likes moderate light and thrives best in shade or indirect sunlight.
You can grow it in a room with lower light conditions, but it wouldn’t be smart to keep it in complete darkness.
4. When should I repot my Calathea Ornata?
Plants in general, and Calathea Ornata is no exception, don’t like to be moved and repotted often.
Of course, there are some plants, like spider plant, that grow very fast and need repotting more frequently, but Calathea would be happy with one repotting every 2 years.
Also, it is important to repot your plant during the active growth period, best in mid-spring.
Otherwise, you can mess with a plant’s natural rhythm and it will not be happy about it.