How to Care for Calathea Ornata – The Ultimate Guide

Calathea ornata (Pink Calathea) is a beautiful house plant that will surely add an exotic touch to your home or office. The plant’s main decorative feature is the foliage – dark green with light-green to white lines, irregular pink areas, and deep purplish, pinkish, or red undersides.

However, Pink Calatheas, as well as their cousins of the same genus, have a reputation for being very demanding and fussy houseplants. And it is true – their native tropical rainforests have a specific and highly stable climate that is challenging to emulate in temperate climates – even indoors.

However, if you manage to ensure the right conditions, Pink Calatheas will reward you with a year-round display of their colorful foliage.

This article is aimed at helping you to pull it off and enjoy the healthy, vibrant Calathea charm!

What Is Pink Calathea?

The “Pink Calathea” is not a scientific name but a common or trade name for Calatheas that have pink features. In most cases, a “Pink Calathea” will be the most common species, Calathea ornata; however, more than one Calathea species may be sold under the said trade name.

Calathea classification

The genus Calathea contains about 60 species. However, when talking about Pink Calathea, they usually come from either one of these two species:

  • Calathea ornata, the most common Calathea species on the market, has dark green striped foliage with purplish-to-burgundy leaf undersides. Also, it usually has showy, irregular pink markings or overtones. The amount of pinks and reds can depend on the cultivar – and there are many C. ornata cultivars on the market.
  • Calathea roseopicta or Rose-painted Calathea is the naturally rosiest Calathea species, with burgundy leaf undersides. Some cultivars like ‘Rosy’ have a large part of their upper surface in pink. However, it is somewhat rarer than C. ornata.

Due to a large number of cultivars and various trade names, sometimes it won’t be clear which species does your plant belongs to. Don’t sweat it if you are unsure which Calathea species you own or want to obtain. All Calatheas require the same or very primary care, with some species being more sensitive than others. So, requirements are the same, it is just the tolerance to divergence from the requirements that varies.

Appearance and characteristics

All Calatheas have elongated, oval, glossy leaves with a basic dark green color and amazing color patterns that largely depend on the species and the cultivar. They are clumping perennials, meaning they last for many years and grow in a spreading manner, creating new plant growth (e.g., new young plants) while spreading outwards.

How to care for Pink Calathea

If you want a summary of Pink Calathea care, here it is: not easy, but rewarding.

All Calatheas have specific requirements when it comes to watering, lighting, and humidity, especially if you want your plants to look their best.

However, if you manage to get it right – the Pink Calathea looks will have such an effect on your environment that it will be totally worth it.

Here are a bunch of tips on Calathea care to help you on the way.

Quick Summary (Bulleted list)

In this article, we’ll cover all the most important points of Pink Calathea care.

That includes:

  • Pink Calathea Light requirements
  • Pink Calathea Watering
  • Humidity & Temperature for Pink Calathea
  • Soil & Fertiliser For Pink Calathea
  • Repotting Pink Calathea
  • Growing Pink Calathea in The Garden
  • How and when to prune Pink Calathea
  • Problems with Pink Calathea plants
  • How to propagate Pink Calathea plants
  • Pink Calathea FAQs
  • Summary

Pink Calathea Light requirements

Since Calathea is a jungle plant, the preferred light conditions sort of mimic the tropical rainforest understory. All Calatheas prefer bright to medium-bright but indirect light, similar to the dappled shade provided by tall tropical canopies.

Placing an indoor Pink Calathea near an east or west-facing window just out of the reach of direct sunlight will perfectly satisfy the plant’s lighting needs.

Alternatively, you can put the plant on a brighter window with a semi-transparent curtain between the glass and the pot.

North-facing windows will also do if you put the plant directly on a windowsill or closest to the glass.

In case you want to grow your Calathea outside (more on that a bit later), try to provide the same light conditions the plants had indoors – bright or moderately bright and indirect.

Pink Calathea Watering

As it’s the case with most tropical plants, Pink Calatheas thrive in permanently moist soil. When we say “moist,” we don’t mean “soaked,” and getting the difference right is the key to providing Calatheas with just the right amount of water.

Also, Calatheas don’t tolerate dry-out periods. Like some other hardier jungle plants like Devil’s Ivy and Spider plants that will spring back to life after being watered, the damage on Calatheas will likely be permanent and will at least take its toll on the plant’s look.

To get the Calathea watering right, you must check the soil moisture with a trusted plant enthusiast’s tool – your finger. Don’t hesitate to stick your index finger in the soil to check the moisture levels. It is good to allow for the top half inch of the soil to dry before watering again, but not more than that.

As Calatheas are sensitive to conditions, perhaps the best option is to get a  soil moisture meter to keep track of the ideal substrate moisture level for you. As a general rule, water your plant when the meter is approaching the number 3. Points 1 and 2 mean too dry for Calatheas, including the pink ones.

What type of water does Calathea need?

All Calatheas are notoriously picky when it comes to water quality and content.

Being sensitive to several minerals commonly present in tap water,  Calatheas need rainwater, groundwater, or filtered water to thrive.

As a last resort, you can use unmodified tap water that has sat out over the night, so at least chlorine and fluoride would go away through evaporation.

Humidity & Temperature for Pink Calathea

The ideal cited temperature range for Calatheas is  65°F – 85°F (18°C-30°C). Pink Calatheas are not demanding about temperatures as long as they’re not falling below the 60s (Fahrenheit). 70s temperature range suits them just fine, which means that most room temperatures will be perfect for Calatheas. So here it is – at least one point they’re not particularly sensitive about!

Besides loving the pleasantly moist soil, Pink Calatheas also love the humid air. To have Calatheas thriving with no brown leaf edges, they require a minimum of 50-60% ambient humidity, which is at the upper border of what is considered healthy for humans (and safe for many humidity-sensitive objects such as

However, Calatheas will benefit from even higher humidity. If you want to be a pro grower with plants that always look their best, consider getting a special grow box for sensitive Calathea species. Or, you can create a plant room with a humidifier that ensures that the humidity will always be around 70-80 percent.

Another secret to the success of plant rooms is that plants themselves give off humidity that benefits their neighbors and keep the ambient humidity higher by default. Jungle plants are used to dense growing conditions anyway. However, just be mindful to ensure enough air circulation (while not creating draft), or else you’ll make your plants susceptible to diseases.

Having a grow box will also make it easier for you to control both humidity and temperature. Pink Calatheas. However, most grow boxes are not really decorative and are fine if your main intention is to propagate the plant.

Soil & Fertiliser For Pink Calathea

The essential preventive measure is to ensure a quality substrate with good drainage and water-retaining properties. Because Calathea’s well-being is so dependent on soil moisture, a quality and well-balanced substrate is the only way to ensure proper moisture levels in the long run.

Also, Calatheas do best in slightly acidic soil that has a pH of around 6.5.

An ideal potting mixture for a Pink Calathea is a light, airy peat-based mix. Substrate for African violets is an excellent choice as well.

When it comes to fertilizing, Calatheas require some – but not too much – to look lush. It is sufficient to treat them with a half-strength solution of houseplant fertilizer (always follow the instructions on the label) once per month during spring, summer and fall. The plant will rest during the winter, so additional fertilizing could only cause trouble.

Repotting Pink Calathea

As a clumping plant, Calatheas need to be repotted and divided every few years (two to five years, to be precise). Use a pot that is one to two inches larger in diameter than the previous one – unless you are dividing the plant.

Speaking of division, you can find more useful Pink Calathea repotting information in the section on propagation.

Growing Pink Calathea in the Garden

If you live in a warm climate, where temperatures do not fall below 60 and ideally above 70 Fahrenheit and the air humidity moderate to high, you can think about bringing your Calatheas outside during the summer. If you live in the tropics, you can consider growing a Pink Calathea as a garden plant year-round.

Pink Calathea needs the same conditions outdoors that we’re trying to provide indoors. Make sure your plant never dries out – in high heat outdoors, there may be a heightened need for watering. Also, outdoors a Pink Calathea needs to be sheltered from direct sunlight and put in an indirectly bright spot. A relatively light patio or porch is a fine place for a Pink Calathea pot.

During your plant’s first days outside, take some time to monitor it. That includes checking that the sun is not hitting it directly at any point of the day, how much the soil dries out in 24 hours, and how the plant is reacting to a change of scenery in general (hint: it doesn’t actually care about the scenery, but about conditions, but it sounds better this way, doesn’t it?).

As soon as the temperature starts to fall below the 60s, take your Calathea inside. Never risk leaving them out for too long as they are quite cold-sensitive.

How and when to prune Pink Calathea

Pink Calateha doesn’t need regular pruning, but it will benefit from occasional trimming of its dead or damaged leaves. Also, you can snip off the dry edges of individual leaves to make them look better and healthier.

By doing this type of maintenance pruning, you will make your Calathea more aesthetically pleasing and make room for new, healthy growth and decrease the chance of disease.

However, pink Calathea doesn’t benefit from trimming its healthy growth. Pruning the healthy leaves won’t make the plant grow more vigorously, and there is nothing useful you can do with the cut-off parts because no species of Calathea can be reproduced by cuttings. Always make sure not to remove more than one-third of the living leaves.

When to Prune Pink Calathea

You should prune your Pink Calathea during dormancy or at the beginning of the new growing season. That means during the wintertime or in the early spring at the latest.

Of course, you don’t have to look at yellowed or browned leaves until the wintertime. You can cut off dead or dying leaves at any time of the year.

How to Prune Pink Calathea

Calatheas have thin but slightly tough stems that are not hard to cut, so the best-suited tools for the pruning job are the small, sharp scissors or snips specialized for plant trimming. The best option would be the ones with longer tips and handles to help you reach between the packed stems and cut exactly the leaf you’ve targeted.

Here is how to give your Calateha a proper trim:

  • Your scissors should be sterilized before use to avoid spreading any diseases; you should disinfect again when moving between plants.
  • Start by removing the leaves that are entirely withered and browned by snipping them at the base of their stems.
  • As a next step, look at the yellowed or crisping leaves – remove the ones that are too far gone.
  • For leaves with only partial damage, gently trim off the damaged tips and edges.

Problems with Pink Calathea plants

Calatheas are sensitive and fussy regarding practically all growing conditions – humidity, soil moisture, lighting, and water quality. That means that whenever a Pink Calathea is outside of its comfort zone, unfortunately, it will show in on its leaves.

  • Browning and withering of foliage that begin at leaf edges are usually signs that the plant is low on water.
  • Similar papery brown patches that appear on the edges first are a sign of low ambient humidity. The rest of the leaf will look healthy.
  • Smaller brown spots and dry, crisp leaves are an indication of sunburn.
  • Yellowing of the leaves signifies poor water quality, possibly with too many minerals (hard water).

Cutting Back Damaged Pink Calathea

In cases of extreme damage to the leaves by mechanical or other means, a healthy and well-maintained Pink Calathea plant can be cut back completely, with some risk. The cutting should be done during the dormancy period (winter). However, removing all the leaves still carries the risk of the plant never fully recovering.

Also, some cultivars may not grow back true – you may lose the desired color patterns by cutting back.

How to propagate Pink Calathea plants

Calatheas are propagated by root division. The plant should be at least two years old before you try to divide it, and the best season to do it is in the spring when you’ll be repotting it.

Although it may seem intimidating to just tear your precious plant into two or more smaller plants, dividing a Calathea plant is an easy, straightforward, and sort of natural process.

Why “natural?” Clumping perennials are designed to reproduce by division – each set of leaves from the mother plant is equipped with its own root systems so it can live as an individual plant from the start.

On the other hand, if clumping plants are never divided, they will suffer, and the foliage may die out in the center of the bush.

How Do I Divide Pink Calathea?

Even though dividing a large-clumped plant is good for it, it still represents a stressful activity for the plant. Thus, good preparation and careful execution of clump division is the essence of success.

Here are steps to take to divide your Calathea successfully.

  • Calatheas should be divided every few years, or as soon as you notice that the clump has overgrown, in the period of regular plant repotting. Although dividing a Pink Calathea is stressful for the plant in the short term, it is a favorable move in the long run because it ensures healthy and vigorous growth.
  • A day before division, water your plant(s) to the point of soaking; the point of doing so is to make them hydrated enough to be less prone to division damage (especially the roots)
  • Prepare the new pots and substrate mixes in advance. Repotting your plants instantly leads to a more stress-free procedure and enhances the chance of success.
  • Remove the plant from the pot gently and carefully. For smaller pots, you can do this by holding one hand over the soil/root ball and carefully turning the pot upside down while holding the plant by its base. For larger pots, turn them to the side and carefully take the plants out.
  • The root division itself is best done by hand, carefully and gently. Calatheas are known for having fragile root systems, so it is inevitable to damage a few roots; however, damaging to many could hamper the plant’s growth after division and re-potting,
  • Newly-divided plants have extra care needs. You need to control the conditions well, especially by ensuring sufficient (as much as possible) ambient humidity and low/reduced light for two to three weeks.

Can You Propagate Calathea By Cuttings?

Cuttings are probably the most popular way of propagating houseplants when possible. Unfortunately, the Pink Calathea plant, or any other Calathea for that matter, can’t be propagated by cuttings. The leaves and the leaf stems don’t seem to have enough plant tissue to support rooting.

The only alternative to root division is to start new Calathea plants from seeds. These are not a frequent find, but they can often be bought at retailers online.

Pink Calathea FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about Pink Calatheas that were perhaps not covered in the other sections.

How big does a Pink Calathea bush get?

Pink Calathea, if we’re talking about C. ornata, can grow up to two feet in indoor conditions. In natural surroundings (and thus in tropical gardens), it can grow to be 3-9 feet tall.

Does misting Pink Calathea secure enough humidity?

Misting indeed raises atmospheric humidity – but only for a few moments. It does nothing to increase the humidity in general, so it is not enough to meet the needs of most jungle plants (although they may look “refreshed” right after misting). If your room is too dry, humidity can be raised by evaporating water in the room, by growing a number of plants together, or – the safest bet – by getting a room humidifier.

Can Pink Calathea survive in low light?

The best conditions for Pink Calathea are those with moderately bright, indirect light. This may be considered “low light” by some and is certainly “low” when you compare it to the sun-loving species.

However, if put in true low light conditions, Pink Calatheas will probably survive for a while but will fail to grow substantially. As time passes, the plant will lose its attractiveness and will eventually succumb to the darkness, to put it a bit dramatically. So it would be best not to test the plant’s low light tolerance – put it in a spot with indirect bright to moderate light instead.

Are Calatheas poisonous?

No parts of Calahtea plants are known to be poisonous to humans. Still, they are not known to be edible either (we would already know if they were) – there is no need to test it!

Is Pink Calathea poisonous to pets?

Pink Calatheas, and the rest of the plants from the Calathea genus, are not poisonous to pets and are perfectly safe to have around both cats and dogs. However, be careful about curious or bored pets nibbling on and eventually destroying your precious plants!

Summary

Pink Calatheas are stunning tropical houseplants that will brighten up any space. However, you need to “pay” for their looks by providing very well-regulated conditions, especially with respect to ambient humidity, soil moisture and structure, water quality, and avoiding direct light.

Luckily, Pink Calatheas are mostly cultivars of Calathea ornata, the most common Calathea species that is relatively easy to grow compared to some others.

If you have at least basic conditions for growing Calatheas – give Pink Calathea a go. For a little bit of trying, you will get a whole lot of beauty.

 

 

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