Calathea Sanderiana Care, Leaves & Safety

Calathea Sanderiana

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by Admin

The Calathea Sanderiana is also called the Calathea Ornata Sanderiana. Some people refer to it as the Pinstripe Calathea or Pin Stripe Calathea due to the lovely white stripes that cover is large, dark green foliage.

If you look closely at the white stripes, you’ll also see very light pink hues. This kind of detailing makes it a stunning houseplant.

The undersides of its leaves have a purple color.

As you already guessed, the Calathea Sanderiana is a cultivar of the Calathea ornata. And while they look very similar, the two are different plants as I’ll explain below.

That said, as beautiful as the Calathea Sanderiana is, it is also just as fussy. This means that it is not the best plant for beginners.

That’s because you do need to make sure its requirements are met to keep it healthy. If it does not get what it wants, it can quickly deteriorate and even die on you. As such, I’ll go through its care in detail below one aspect at a time.

Calathea Ornata vs. Calathea Sanderiana: What’s the Difference?

As mentioned, the Calathea Sanderiana and the Calathea ornata are very closely related. They also look very similar to one another.

As such, they’re easy to confuse for one another.

In fact, some people consider the two plants as the same one. That’s not true since they are two very distinct and different varieties (albeit closely related).

The simplest way to tell is the Calathea Sanderiana is a much bigger plant. In fact, it is one of the larger Calathea species around.

It also has broader but shorter leaves compared to the Calathea ornata. Meanwhile, the Calathea ornata has dark green, large, slightly oval shaped leaves with white-pinkish pinstripes coming from the mid vein out to the edges of the plant.


Calathea Sanderiana Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Calathea Sanderiana can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions. However, it grows at its best when given moderate to bright indirect light.

This is similar to what it gets in the rainforests where it lives below the canopy of larger trees and other plants. Because it is not a very tall plant, all the bigger plants give it some kind of cover or shade.

As such, it is not used to bearing the brunt of the sun’s rays.

For this reason, avoid long periods of direct sun or intense light as this will eventually affect and potentially damage its foliage.

Therefore, it you notice its leaves start losing its pinstripes. It means it is getting too much light. If left in this environment longer, it can eventually experience leaf burn.

On the other hand, the plant can likewise tolerate low light. This makes it easier to care for it indoors.

However, it does get fussy about lack of light. So, you do need to balance this.

Too little light will cause its growth to stunt.

And when this starts to happen, the plant is telling you to move it somewhere brighter.



Another thing to consider when choosing a location for your Calathea Sanderiana is temperature.

The plant is tropical in nature. Therefore, it prefers moderate to warm conditions. This is where it thrives.

More importantly, it is not cold hardy. So, you want to watch out for cold drafts and air conditioners indoors. Outdoors, make sure to bring the plant back indoors once things get colder during the latter part of the year.

The Calathea Sanderiana has an ideal temperature between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. On the low end, avoid leaving it somewhere with temperature below 60 degrees.

Outdoors, the plant will do well USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 as you can keep it outside all year round. However, if you live below Zone 10 (which means you experience colder climates during fall and winter), avoid leaving the plant outside under 60 degree environment as it cannot survive months on end in this condition.


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Being native to the tropics (South America), the Calathea Sanderiana is used to humid conditions. As such, it prefers humidity of 50% and above. This will keep it happy and healthy.

It will also allow it to grow faster and produce more vibrant looking foliage.

Unfortunately, this is not very easy to maintain unless you live in tropical, subtropical areas or somewhere near a body of water.

As such, misting every other day or so is a good idea. However, be careful not to wet the leaves too much. Also, make sure that you plant get enough light and good air circulation so the leaves will dry.

Avoid leaving its foliage wet later in the day as well.

That’s because all these will encourage fungal disease.

Another option is to keep the plant in the bathroom or kitchen. Since we use quite a bit of water in both areas, they’re the most humid rooms in almost all homes.

If you don’t want to do either, you can likewise invest in a humidifier. In case you prefer something free,, consider placing your Calathea Sanderiana on a pebble tray or grouping it with other houseplants.

calathea sanderiana

source: wikimedia commons


How Often to Water Calathea Sanderiana

The Calathea Sanderiana generally needs once a week watering during the warmer months of the year. Cut back during winter and allow the soil to dry a bit more before watering.

The simplest way gauge when to water the plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before adding more water.

This is ideal because you avoid overwatering watering and the plant but also don’t let it dry out.

It is fussy about moisture, so you want to figure out the balance it likes as soon as possible.

The reason it gets tricky is that the plant enjoys moist soil.

However, it cannot tolerate wet, soggy soil. And it does not like it when you let the soil dry out completely either.

Overwatering will lead to yellow leaves and increase the risk of infections as well as root rot. Similarly, because the plant is not drought tolerant, lack of water will results in brown leaves.

As such, finding its sweet spot is the challenge.

On the other hand, if you notice crispy leaves, it means the plant needs more humidity. Again, this is moisture related.

And that’s not the end of it.

The Calathea Sanderiana is likewise sensitive to water quality.

As such, it may or may not tolerate tap water depending on where you live. That’s because some municipalities add more chemicals including fluoride and chlorine into the water system.

If there’s too many chemicals in your tap water, it will cause the leaf edges of your Calathea Sanderiana to turn brown. Therefore, this means you need to avoid using the tap to water the plant.

Instead, use distilled water or collect rainwater.

Alternatively, you can likewise allow tap water to sit at room temperature overnight. This will allow the chemicals to evaporate by morning (so you can use it safely to water the plant).


Calathea Sanderiana Potting Soil

Due to the plant’s fussy natura about watering, it is important to use the right kind of soil for your Calathea Sanderiana.

The best soil for the plant is one that stays moist but is well-draining.

In know that sounds ironic. However, with the right combination and amounts of ingredients, the soil will be able to hold just enough moisture to keep the roots from getting dehydrated.

At the same time, the soil will have the ability to excess moisture, so the plant’s roots don’t end up sitting in water for extended periods of time.

Thus, you have a few options, here.

If you prefer to just pick up soil from your nursery or garden center, then go with African Violet potting mix.

I, on the other hand, prefer making my own DIY potting mix. It is not only cheaper to do so, but also allows you to customize the soil for plant (and easily make adjustments as needed along the way).

For your Calathea Sanderiana, you can use

  • 2 parts peat
  • 1 part perlite

You can likewise substitute coconut coir for peat if you prefer something more sustainable.

In the recipe, the peat holds moisture while the perlite allows moisture to drain quickly.

The combination will keep the roots hydrated while avoiding waterlogged soil and overwatering.



Fertilizer plays an important role in supporting the plant’s overall healthy. It also allows it to grow faster and avoid any nutrient deficiencies.

However, the Calathea Sanderiana is not a heavy feeder. Therefore, avoid giving it more than it needs.

Once a month feeding during the spring and summer is more than sufficient to keep the plant growing well. Don’t fertilize the plant during winter as it does not grow much during the cold season.

Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength. It is easy to do this with liquid formulation since you only need to add water to do so.

Again, the most important thing it not to overfertilize the plant. It would be a big mistake to assume that more fertilizer means more growth and leaf production because that simply is not the case.

Instead, you’ll be putting your plant at risk of fertilizer burn. Additionally, excess growth from too much plant food can result in a tall and lanky plant.



Indoors, the Calathea Sanderiana usually will grow to about 2 to 3 feet high. Sometimes it overshoots this by a bit. Outdoors, it can get considerably bigger with proper care.

As such, while the plant starts out on a tabletop (if you get a young plant), it will likely end up on the floor or somewhere below the counter as it not only gets bigger but also spreads out from side to side as its leaves grow.

That said, because the plants’ beauty is all in its leaves, there isn’t a lot of pruning you really want to do.

The only exceptions are if you see it growing much bigger than the space you have. Or there are overgrowths or excessively long leaves on one side that make the plant look imbalanced.

Also, remove any yellow, brown, damaged or diseased foliage as well.

In addition to trimming the plant, it is likewise a good idea to wipe it down with a damp cloth to clean its leaves. This will allow it to absorb more light as there’s not dust there.

It also helps prevent pests as dust attracts these bugs.


How to Propagate Calathea Sanderiana

Unfortunately, the Calathea Sanderiana cannot be propagated from stem cuttings. As such, it is better to divide the plant.

This means that you don’t be able to propagate it until to gets to a certain size. That’s because it is not a good idea to end up with very small divisions where the new plants are not big enough to support themselves.

That said, the biggest advantage of division is that once you’re done, you immediately have semi-grown plants. Therefore, you don’t need to wait for it to root (for cuttings) or germinate (for seed).

To propagate your Calathea Sanderiana:

  • Take the plant out of its container
  • Decide on which sections you’ll want to divide. Make sure that each section has at least a few leaves and corresponding roots. Never, leave a section without any roots otherwise that section will not survive.
  • Once you’ve decided, sperate the soil into the sections. You can use your hands or a sterile knife.
  • Next, prepare new pots for each section and fill them up to about 40% of the way with potting mix.
  • Place each new plant into their respective pots and fill the remaining space with soil.
  • Keep the soil moist.


How to Repot or Transplant Calathea Sanderiana

The Calathea Sanderiana is a fast grower. Therefore, it is a good choice if you want quick gratification (at least in terms plant growth).

This is especially true during its growing season (spring and summer) with proper care.

As such, it is a good idea to check the bottom of the pot for any roots coming out of the drainage holes. This is a sign that it needs a larger container.

Since the plant usually needs repotting every 1-2 years, try to check about once a year to see if it needs to be moved.

If so, choose a container that is 2 inches larger than that current one. Also have fresh well-draining potting mix on hand as you’ll want to replace the soil.

The best time to repot is during spring. Although you can do it any time of the year provided that it does not get too cold or to hot.


Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

The Calathea Sanderiana is considered non-toxic to cats, dogs and humans. It does not contain any toxic or poisonous substances even when accidentally ingested.

This makes it safe to keep around young children and pets around the house.


Problems & Troubleshooting


The Calathea Sanderiana is quite resistant to pests. However, it is not immune to them.

Therefore, you may still experience pests somewhere along the way. Although, there’s a big chance (with proper care) that you’ll never need to deal with them as far as this plant goes.

The most common pests that can attack this plant are spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, scale and whiteflies.

Spider mites are the biggest threat of all. And you want to catch these sap sucking insects as soon as possible because they grow quickly in number.

I’ve found that spraying them off with water is the fastest way. Although you can use diluted neem oil or horticultural oil as well.



Roo rot is the biggest threat to your plant. Again, this stems from its sensitivity to overwatering.

Because it enjoys high humidity, the risk of too much moisture also increases.

Therefore, you want to make sure that you don’t water the plant too often. Instead, wait until part of the soil dries up first before watering again.

This will prevent root rot and also stave off other diseases.