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How to keep a happy Calathea Ornata – care guide

The Calathea Ornata, with its light pink stripes across dark green leaves and deep purple color underneath the leaves, is one of my favorite beauty from the prayer plant world. I hope that in this article I can show you the beautiful world of the Calathea Ornata and how with the right care, you too can enjoy the beauty of this plant!

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When should you water your Calathea | Watering

I want to start with watering because I think this is what made the difference and what kept mine so happy – so far.. I water my Calathea plants only with distilled water. You could also use filtered water or rainwater, the important thing is that is free of minerals and salts that are found in tap water.

calathea ornata - prayer plant

We all have different conditions at our home, so something that works for my plants, might not work for yours. Check out the article 7 factors that affect your houseplant watering frequency where I talk more about different conditions of our homes.

Usually, I like to test different alternatives with all of my plants to see what they like best. But, with this specific advice, that I took from Amanda from Planterina (you can find her on Youtube, she’s awesome!!) I didn’t want to risk, and I used distilled water right from the start!

The leaves are the same as the first day I got it, no funny spots on the leaves, no signs of an unhappy plant.

Can Calathea grow in low light? | Lighting

You know what I say about lighting – any plant that is considered to be or can survive in a medium to low light ambient, would also enjoy a spot with bright but indirect light. Well, the Calathea Ornata is considered to be medium to low light plant, and it enjoys it that way! But, like any other plant, Calathea needs sunlight.

If you have a north or east facing window, you can place it by the window. If you have a south or west facing window, I would move it a couple of feet away from the window!

The most important thing is to keep it away from direct sunlight! Calathea leaves are very thin and sensible, they will easily burn if you expose them to direct sunlight.

I often switch my plants from place to place, to give all of them as much light as they can get. While other stay in medium to low light spots, I place other in brighter spots, and then I switch them again.

I did the exact same thing with my Calathea and I found out that it actually likes a medium light spot of the house.

This does not mean no light at all! It’s just a spot that has light throughout the day, but it’s further away from the window. The light is dispersed, instead of bright.

As I mentioned earlier, it all depends on your home conditions. If you have a home with lots of natural light coming in, you won’t have a problem finding the right spot. On the other hand, if you don’t have that much light, you’ll probably need to play around a bit more. Keep in mind – the less light you provide, the slower it will grow.

Although I know that it would grow much faster in a brighter spot, I’m happy I can keep it away from the window, because I have other plants that need as much bright indirect light as they can get.

Calathea & Humidity – the inseparable couple

This leads me to humidity… Calatheas like humid environments. This is also the reason I don’t like to keep mine near a south facing window. South facing windows get the strongest sun and because of that, that area has the lowest humidity levels.

As far as how I provide humidity for my Calathea, it’s very simple.

Plastic pot instead of terracotta pot

First of all, I keep it in a plastic pot in which I bought it. I haven’t yet repotted it, but even when I do repot it, I’ll use a plastic pot. This helps to keep the soil moist for a longer period of time (longer that a terracotta pot). You can read more about this in my article Plastic Pot vs. Terracotta Pot.

While Calatheas do like moist soil, this doesn’t mean they like to sit in soggy soil! Whenever you water it, be sure that the excess water drains out!

Misting

Should you mist your Calathea?

Some find that misting doesn’t help, but I like to do it because I feel like it freshens out the plant and it keeps the leaves clean for longer.

I mist the leaves almost every day and I try to do it in the morning or early afternoon.

*I mist all my plants with distilled water because tap water would leave limescale on the leaves once the water evaporates.

Humidifier

And lastly, I have two small diffusers that I actually use for ambient purposes (with just a few drops of your favorite essential oil, your home will smell like heaven).

They can’t raise humidity levels like those big humidifiers, but they still come in handy for my Calathea plants.

I place them right under my Calathea plants that I grouped together. Grouping your plants can also help to raise humidity levels around your plants.

I buy my diffusers from Aliexpress or Amazon. There’s a large variety of choices for affordable prices. I go with the simple ones where all you need to do is pour some water, a few drops of essential oil and click start (like the one in the picture).

If you have extra dry conditions at home, you’ll probably need a “real” humidifier that will up the humidity levels of the entire room. But if you don’t want one, try out these three methods.

Interesting Calathea Characteristics

One of the most popular characteristics is its leaf movement. It’s so interesting to have at least one plant in your home that does this movement. Almost every time you enter the room, the leaves are in a different position. The plant actually follows the light and once the light is gone, it folds its leaves upwards and rests until the next day.

So don’t be scared if you find your Calathea with “sad” leaves, this doesn’t mean your plant is dying, but its rather absorbing the light with all the surface of the leaf. By the end of the day, you’ll see how it’ll raise up the leaves again.

Is Calathea toxic? | Toxicity

According to ASPCA Calathea is not considered toxic to cats and dogs.