Why Is My Calathea Ornata Leaves Curling? [Solutions and Prevention]

Aptly named, Calathea ornata is indeed one of the most beautiful ornamental plants you can bring to your home. It has iconic foliage with a deep green top side with delicate white pinstripes and an underside in the color of rich purple. 

There are different varieties of Calathea, with ornata being one of the most popular. Calatheas, in general, are relatively low-maintenance but it is crucial for you to establish an optimal growing condition for them first else risk encountering issues like leaf curling. Don’t worry, though, because, in this article, we are going to talk about Calathea ornata leaves curling and what you can do about it.

Aside from that, we are also going to answer the questions that our readers commonly ask on the subject and more. Excited? Then let’s get started.

The Calathea Ornata

Calathea are tropical plants native to South America. They are part of the big Maranta family with over 300 species found in nature. Collectively, they are also referred to as prayer plants because they literally fold their leaves at night as if to pray.

As we have mentioned, there are different types of Calatheas. For this article, though, we are going to talk about Calathea ornata in particular. Because of its distinctive leaf pattern, this type also goes by the names Pinstripe Calathea, Pinstripe Plant, and Femme Fatale.

Since it’s a tropical plant, it will thrive in bright, yet indirect sunlight, high humidity, and warm temperatures. In addition, we also love that it is non-toxic to both humans and pets alike.

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Why Do Calathea Ornata Leaves Curl?

Here’s the deal, we don’t always recommend Calathea ornata to complete beginners unless they already live in an area where we’re sure that the plant will thrive naturally and without a lot of fuss. 

There are a lot of calathea lovers who swear that they are easy to care for. The reasons for this are that this plant is very expressive and appreciative. Calatheas don’t just wilt and die after a few days of being sick. Instead, they show you clear signs that they’re not okay, give you enough time to deal with the issue, and respond very quickly.

The problem is, new plant parents don’t always notice these signs immediately. Being an experienced grower develops a special intuition for these kinds of things.

One of the first signs that tell you that your Pinstripe plant is not doing very well is leaf curling. This issue is not unique to calatheas alone. It’s a natural response displayed by a lot of other plants.

It is actually a defense mechanism in response to dehydration. Your calathea plant will do this to minimize water consumption and prevent further water loss. There are many reasons why a plant can get dehydrated. It can be due to underwatering, low humidity, or just the heat of the current season. 

Aside from dehydration, leaf curling can also be a sign that your plant’s leaves are not getting enough nutrition. Hence, it can also be caused by root rotting and disease as well.

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Calathea Ornata Leaves Curling Prevention

The steps that we are going to share below can also work as viable solutions. If they don’t, then don’t worry because we’re also going to share with you a special method that we use for more serious cases.

  • Make sure that your Pinstripe plant is in the right location. Calatheas are used to growing under the shade of trees in their natural environment. They also thrive in very humid areas. Hence, to prevent curling, you need to make sure that they receive bright yet indirect light, preferably in a humid place with temperatures between 60 to 85°F. 
  • Water the right way. Keeping your calathea’s soil constantly moist is not enough. Tap water sometimes has minerals and other components that can get your plant sick, so you need the right type of water for your watering sessions. We recommend either using distilled water or rainwater instead.
  • Use the right pot. Finally, we understand that not everyone will have the resources to water their plants with bottled water. At the very least, you need to make sure that it won’t sit in this water for too long. That’s why you need to plant your calathea in a well-draining pot not just to prevent disease but root rotting as well.

Just making these changes will already do wonders for your plant. We’re not even going to be surprised if you start seeing immediate results with the calathea’s leaves unfurling in front of your very eyes. That’s how responsive this plant is. 

However, if its leaves are still limp and curled after a week or so, then it sounds like your Pinstripe is in dire need of a good soak.

Calathea Ornata Leaves Curling: The Solution

Place your pot in your tub (without the saucer, of course). Fill up your tub until the (unheated) water is at least three inches deep. Let your plant sit there for around 30 to 45 minutes. Your calathea will soak up all the water it needs through its drainage hole. 

After soaking, touch the soil. Does it feel moist and well-saturated? If it’s not then you probably need to rethink your choice of soil and potting. In the meantime, you can give it a light watering from the top until it’s evenly saturated.

Once you have achieved the moisture that your plant needs, then go ahead and drain the tub. Let the plant sit there for a while until it’s well-drained as well. It will also enjoy the humidity of your bathroom.

Congratulations! You’ve just finished soaking and your Pinstripe plant will thank you for it. 

If after doing all the steps that we have provided you your plant’s leaves are still curling, then it’s a great time to check for root rot and determine other causes. 

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More Tips to Prevent Calathea Ornata Leaf Curling

Want to make sure that your calathea’s leaves won’t curl in the future? Then here are more tips you can try:

  • Get the temperature right. Don’t just depend on room temperature when you’re determining the growing environment of your plant. Instead, take the exact temperature of the spot where your plant is located. There are different factors that can affect the distribution of heat in the room, after all.
  • Use a humidifier. If you are located in an area known for its low humidity, then you might want to consider getting a humidifier. If you already have one, then move it closer to your plant.
  • Mist regularly. Finally, if you don’t have a humidifier then you can compensate by having a misting bottle on hand. Use this to mist your plant’s leaves regularly. Keep it full with water and close to the plant so that you’ll always be reminded to spray frequently, especially during hot summer months.

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Calathea Ornata Care FAQs

As promised, allow us to answer the following questions related to this Pinstripe plant issue as well.

Why is my calathea Ornata leaves curling?

The most common culprit for Calathea ornata leaves curling is dehydration, usually resulting from underwatering, low humidity, or hot temperatures. While there are cases of leaf curling as a result of root rotting and disease, these are still pretty uncommon. If your Calathea ornata is suffering from a disease, then there will be other symptoms aside from just curling. 

How do you fix curled calathea leaves?

The first step is to determine the root cause. Why is your Pinstripe plant dehydrated? If it’s due to underwatering, then make your watering sessions more frequent. If it’s due to low humidity, then placing a humidifier near your plant will help immensely. Finally, if it’s due to extreme heat, then you can relocate your plant to a cooler part of your home. 

There are other tips and tricks that you can do. We have shared our tried-and-tested ones above.

Can Calathea leaves uncurl?

Yes, they can. Once you resolve the issue causing your plant’s leaves to curl, then they eventually will. There are those in our garden circle who even told us that they actually saw their plant’s leaves unfurl while doing the soaking method we’ve shared above. 

How often should I water my calathea Ornata?

 Calatheas love their soil moist, so you should water as often as it takes to keep it from completely drying out. We often give our plants a good drink once every couple of weeks but we make it even more frequent (sometimes as often as twice a week) during the hottest summer days.

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Uncurling Your Calathea Ornata’s Leaves

Don’t fret. Calathea ornata’s leaf curling is a common issue. This tropical plant thrives in moisture. It uses curling as a defense mechanism to conserve the water in its system if it’s not getting enough from its environment. 

The good news is, this plant is very expressive and responsive, so once you have resolved the problem, then you can be sure that the plant will eventually go back to its normal splendor. 

We just hope that we were able to help through this quick post. Good luck!