How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

Calathea is a green indoor plant with very graphic foliage. It needs a certain amount of heat and humidity and requires appropriate care: here are some tips for growing and caring for it.

Haute couture foliage

Calathea is a plant native to South America. It thrives in hot, humid climates; in our latitudes, it is grown as a houseplant.

Its foliage is very ornamental: the leaves (generally green with purple undersides) are rounded, oval, or lanceolate depending on the species and offer contrasting patterns in shades of light green, dark green, cream, pink or brown. 

The plant usually reaches a height of 40-60cm, and the leaves can be up to 60cm long. The growth of the calathea is slow: it only produces 2 to 3 new leaves each year… but what leaves!

Cultivation of calathea: in practice

  • Soil: humus and drained ( rich and draining soil )
  • Exposure: subdued light (never direct sunlight)
  • Multiplication: a collection of shoots from June to September
  • Flowering: fairly commonplace for most species (except for Calathea crocata ). The flowers are usually small, nestled in light green bracts, and appear during short days.
  • Parasites: red spiders, mealybugs.

Maintenance of the calathea: take care of the watering

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How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

Calathea is a plant that requires little maintenance; its main requirement is sufficient humidity. In summer, water copiously twice a week with non-calcareous water; the substrate must not dry out (without allowing water to stagnate in the saucer or the cache pot).

 In winter, weekly watering is sufficient, provided the temperature is not too high (ideally: 13 to 16°C in winter and 16 to 25°C in summer). If the atmosphere is too dry or too hot, spray the underside of the leaves daily and set the pot on a bed of clay pebbles bathed in water. Your calathea will benefit from being placed next to other green plants so that it helps from a “wet.

Some species of calathea

  • Calathea crocata: prevalent species due to its pretty flowering (erect floral stems bearing bright orange bracts, surrounding small flowers), dark green leaves;
  • Calathea lancifolia: lanceolate leaves with wavy edges of a beautiful green marked with spots starting from the central vein;
  • Calathea ornata: oval leaves, dark green, streaked with white or pale pink;
  • Calathea makoyana: oblong leaves, pale green, with dark green spots (nicknamed “peacock plant”);
  • Calathea zebrina: oblong, green, striated leaves…

The calathea resembles the ctenanthe (which belongs to the same family), with which it can be confused.

Care of clothes

What type of soil for the calathea?

South America obliges. A calathea needs a lot of humidity, so choose a soil mix that retains a lot of water. I prefer a rather peaty, light, and airy soil mix. But a specialized mixture intended for African violets will do just fine too.

How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

Peat moss or coco peat is part of our article on indoor plant substrates! Plant your calathea in a pot with drainage holes in the bottom; although it prefers moist soil, it is prone to root rot if the ground becomes saturated. Also, clothes like slightly acidic soil survive best with a pH of around 6.5.

How to water a calathea?

Calathea is a thirsty plant that thrives when irrigated regularly to keep the soil continuously moist (but not saturated).

This may mean that you can water your calathea every other day, once a week, two times a week or once every two weeks, depending on your home environment – the essential rule is never to let the soil dry out.

If the edges of your Calathes’s leaves turn brown or wilt, that’s a sign you need to increase the watering frequency.

Calatheas are also surprisingly picky about the water they receive and are known to be sensitive to many minerals found in tap water, which can cause their leaves to turn yellow. 

You should, therefore, not hesitate to use rainwater or even filtered water (especially non-calcareous water) to water your indoor plant. Alternatively, fill a container with tap water and leave it overnight for the chlorine to evaporate.

What are the light requirements for a calathea?

The question might seem easy when talking about a tropical plant. One might think it is a green plant that prefers direct sun to nourish its beautiful foliage. In practice, this is not the case, as calatheas prefer and need to be filtered, indirect light, or shade. Indeed, they are used to growing under a canopy of trees in the jungle; they have adapted to brief bursts of direct sunlight rather than constant and violent rays.

The simplest thing is to protect your calathea from direct sunlight, which could harm and burn its leaves.

Your Calathes’s leaves may also move throughout the day, folding upwards at night and opening more expansive in the morning. These movements are known as nyctinasty and are believed to follow the sun’s movement across the sky to maximize light absorption in nature.

What temperature is suitable for calathea?

To keep your calathea happy, warmth will be your best bet. Choose a spot in your home that is regularly warm – clothes thrive in temperatures of 20-30°C but can handle temperatures as low as 15°C (but no lower, eh).

What humidity is best suited for this specimen?

Keep your calathea away from cold drafts and increase ambient humidity as much as possible, either by choosing a naturally more humid area of ​​your home (like the bathroom or kitchen) or by placing a humidifier nearby (daily misting the plant is also a good solution).

Terrariums, which provide natural humidity conditions, are also an excellent choice. You need to find one large enough to accommodate the sprawling calathea leaves.

What to do for good fertilization?

Treat your calathea once a month with a liquid fertilizer in the spring, summer, and fall for best results (and a lush, whole plant), tapering gradually during the winter months when it naturally grows less.

Besides, we have selected the best fertilizers for indoor green plants!

How to propagate a calathea?

Check out our dedicated article right here!

How often should I repot my plant?

I generally recommend repotting small office plants every 12 to 18 months. To accommodate growth:

  1. Use a pot 2-5 cm larger in diameter.
  2. Choose a pot that is not much larger than the previous one, as this could grow the plant’s roots.
  3. If you want to maintain your plant’s current size, report it in the same container, adding new soil and removing some roots and foliage.

How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

Repotting is best done in spring or summer when the plant is at its best.

Accueil – Maintenance & Care – Calathea, how to maintain it properly?

Toxicity of a calathea

This plant is pet friendly! However, it’s always best to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and curious pets.

We talk about it in our top best non-toxic plants in 2023

The other calathea with the same care

There are about 300 varieties of calathea in the wild, each with unique leaf patterns, colors, veins, and exotic tropical flowers.

So there is plenty to do. Fortunately, they have similar properties for some, which facilitate their maintenance. Here are the most famous varieties encountered as houseplants:

Calathea makoyana Calathea makoyana, often known as the peacock plant, has a purplish hue on its leaves, with white and green on the top.

Calathea ornata: Known for its pretty pink and white striped foliage, Calathea ornata is also known as femme fatale. It is one of the most challenging calatheas to cultivate.

Without forgetting the Calathea zebrina, the Calathea crocata, the Calathea orbifold, and the Calathea lancifolia!

  • Calathea zebrina
  • Calathea crocata
  • Calathea lancifolia
  • Calathea orbifolia
  • Calathea makoyana
  • Calathea ornata
  • Calathea zebrina
  • Calathea crocata
  • Calathea lancifolia
  • Calathea orbifolia
  • Calathea makoyana
  • Calathea ornata

Or the calathea medallion, which can be found as an artificial plant!

Common Calathea Problems & Diseases

Calathea is a low-maintenance plant that is often pest-free. Treat the pests as soon as they develop with weekly sprays of a natural pesticide, such as neem oil, and regular wiping of the plant.

How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023

As with many green plants, the easiest way to spot a problem or disease with your calathea is to pay attention to its foliage. Most often, this can be seen through:

  • Wilting foliage with curled leaves: This is frequently caused by a lack of moisture in the potting mix. So during your daily maintenance, more watering could solve the problem.
  • Yellowing of the leaves and a black base: Often, this is the exact opposite problem, over watering your green plant.
  • Spots on the leaves: so there you have two possibilities. Either it’s a fungal infection or the bad quality of your water (too many minerals have accumulated); if in doubt, don’t hesitate to spray it with purified water.

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How to care for a Calathea Ornata – Plant care for Beginners 2023