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Houseplants to discover - Pinstripe Calathea

Calathea ornata

If you are looking for a plant that will add color to your home without your having to worry about keeping it in bloom (often a complicated process), the pinstripe calathea is an excellent choice, because all of its color is in its foliage, not its flowers. In fact, it rarely blooms. The plant has large, oblong, dark green leaves strikingly marked with contrasting thin stripes on both sides of the central vein. These are pink on young leaves, turning white over time. The leaves are purple-red underneath.

The leaves are borne on long, thin petioles, forming a clump which densifies over time. Curiously, they close in the evening, then open again with the return of the morning sun.

The pinstripe calathea can eventually reach 60 cm (2 ft) in height and as much in width.


It does best in medium light, if possible with some direct sun in the morning, especially during winter. Placing it in too much shade will weaken the plant.


The potting mix should remain relatively moist at all times. To achieve that, water deeply when the soil is dry to the touch, soaking the entire root ball. However, drain any excess that drains into the saucer: the pot should not be allowed to soak in water.


Apply an all-purpose or foliage plant fertilizer in spring and summer according to the manufacturer's recommendations.


This tropical plant is intolerant of cool conditions and does best when kept warm at all times. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 10 ºC (50 ºF), but ideally, aim for a minimum temperature of 18 ºC (65 ºF). Given the variable temperature of back yards and patios in temperate regions, it is best to keep this plant indoors all year around.


Pinstripe calathea requires good atmospheric humidity at all times; otherwise the foliage dries up or brown marks form on the leaf margins. During winter, when the air is naturally dry, it's best to use a room humidifier to keep the humidity up.


This calathea is often sold in a pot too small for its root ball and may need to be repotted into a larger pot shortly after purchase. Thereafter, repot annually, changing the old potting soil. Any houseplant potting mix would be perfect.


By division, preferably in spring or summer.


Pinstripe calathea is not toxic to humans, dogs and cats.

Further Information

The large leaves become covered with dust over time. You can remove it by wiping them gently with a damp, soapy cloth.