Calathea Beauty Star (#1 TOP Hacks for Growing & Propagation!)

The Calathea Beauty Star is an eye-catching houseplant. It boasts elliptical leaves that are striped cream and pink, sitting on top of thicker, light green brands. 🙂

A cultivar of the Calathea Ornata, the Beauty Star hails from the Marantaceae (Prayer Plant) family. Like all Prayer Plants, its leaves stand upright in the evenings, like praying hands, and lower throughout the day!

Calathea Beauty Star, like many Calatheas, are not beginner-friendly. But we wouldn’t consider them extremely challenging either. It needs warmth, high humidity (>60%), and a rich soil that is also well-draining.

This plant is best suited to the tropics. But as long as you can provide it stable temperatures above >65 degrees F (18 degrees C), it’ll be able to grow well with some care.

We’ll show you how!

Origins

The Calathea Beauty Star hails from tropical rainforests of South America. It lives in the understory of the rainforest, near the forest floor. While many other plants in this environment, like epiphytes (climbers), grow upwards to reach more light in the canopy, Calatheas have instead grown to adapt to lower light conditions.

Your Calathea Beauty Star has many names.

It is also known as:

  • Peacock Plant
  • Pinstripe Plant
  • Calathea Ornata ‘Beauty Star’ (old scientific name)
  • Goeppertia ‘Beauty Star’ (new scientific name, after being reclassified as a Goeppertia)

Caring for your Calathea Beauty Star

Light

Given that your plant lives near the forest floor, it has adapted to growing well in different light conditions. While it can tolerate low light, for best growth, give your Calathea Beauty Star medium to bright indirect light, around 8-10 hours per day.

North or East-facing windows are ideal. When using a West-facing window, place your plant a few feet away (90cm) from the windowpane. Brown spots and crispy edges are a sign of sunscorched leaves.

On the other hand, slow growth and a pink stripes that are starting to pale or fade is an indication of too little light.

close up of pink and cream pinstripe leaves of the calathea beauty star

Water

Watering your plant is not complicated, but it is very important to get right. There are 2 main points to remember.

Firstly, water your Calathea Beauty Star only when the top 1 inch of soil is dry. If the topsoil is still slightly moist, hold off watering and check back in a day or two. The Beauty Star is susceptible to overwatered roots, so err on the side of underwatering if in doubt.

Secondly, when watering, It’s important to use distilled water, rainwater or tapwater that has been left out overnight.

Your Calathea doesn’t tolerate mineral salts in hard tapwater like chlorine or fluoride. The inability to process these salts may produce crispy brown leaf tips.

Humidity

As with many tropical plants, this South American native absolutely THRIVES in high humidity. For best growth, aim for >60% humidity.

If you can’t manage that, 50-60% is okay too. Use a humidifier to help you if you live in a dry region…. especially in winter!

Check out our other ways to increase humidity levels.

Don’t mist Calathea leaves

However, in your quest to boost humidity, don’t mist the leaves. Calatheas in particular are prone to developing leaf spots from wet foliage, including Alternaria leaf spot (Alternaria alternata) and Helminthosporium leaf spot (Drechslera setariae).

These leaf spots appear as brown spots with yellow halos, or brown with a darker brown or black halo. To treat,

  1. Quarantine effected plants.
  2. Cut off any damaged leaves using sterilized tools (we use 70% isopropryl to sterilize).
  3. Use a chlorothalonil-based fungicide to prevent further spread. Sterilizing tools and disposing of damaged parts securely are important to prevent cross-contamination.

Temperature

Warm, stable temperatures between 65-85 degrees F (18-30 degrees C) are ideal. Your Calathea Beauty Star is sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

A cold chill or draft, even if lasting an hour, can damage your plant. Believe us, this happened to a close friend and she almost cried afterwards!

Remember that these tropical rainforest plants live near the forest floor, where temperatures are warm and stable year-round.

Flowering

While Calatheas are a genus of flowering plants, don’t count on your Beauty Star blooming when kept away from its native environment. Instead, these plants are kept for their ornamental leaves.

topview of the calathea beauty star, a cultivar of the calathea ornata, being held up with several ornamental leaves

Growth

In optimal conditions, your Calathea Beauty Star will grow up to 3 feet (91m) tall and 2 feet (61cm) wide. They stay pretty compact, perfect for small indoor spaces.

These plants are moderate growers, with most vigorous growth in spring and summer.

Soil or Growing Medium

Forest floors have the most organically rich soils, where leaf litter is met with moisture and other vegatative material in various stages of decomposition. So your plant needs a rich growing medium.

At the same time, your Calathea Beauty Star is susceptible to root rot, so it also needs a soil that is well-draining.

To control these variables (yeah, we are controlling when it comes to our plants 🙂 ) we like making our own mix:

Alternatively, if you don’t want the fuss, you can buy and use pre-mixed African Violet potting soil instead.

Fertilizer

For the Calathea Beauty Star and almost all our houseplants, we like using Dyna-Gro Grow.

Use 1/4 teaspoon per gallon water, and use this to water your plant, everytime you water during spring and summer. This gives your plant a steady stream of nutrients.

If you opt for a different fertilizer, that’s fine, but try to find a gentle (look for urea-free), slow-release fertilizer or a liquid one that can be diluted every time you water it.

This is because Calathea roots are very sensitive to fertilizer salts. Too much and you’ll end up with brown crispy edges on its leaves.

Don’t fertilize in fall and winter. Less is more when it comes to fertilizers and Calatheas.

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Repotting

Repotting is especially traumatic for Calatheas that have sensitive roots. They also don’t need frequent repotting, just once every 2-4 years.

However, when you see roots emerging from the bottom of the drainage hole, this is your cue to repot.

As always, remember to use a pot that is only 2 inches (5cm) larger. Repotting during early spring is optimal. This allows roots to recover fully and re-establish in their new home over the active growing season (the spring and summer months).

FOR a step-by-step guide on how to repot a root-bound plant, check out our repotting guide.

Toxicity

Thankfully, Calatheas are not toxic to humans or animals. Your Calathea Beauty Star is safe for pets and children.

If you have pets or children in the home, other pet-friendly plants to check out are Peperomias and Hoyas.

close up of pink and cream pinstripe variegated leaves of the calathea beauty star

Propagation through Rhizome Division

The easiest way to propagate your Calathea Beauty Star is through rhizome division. Rhizomes are modified stems that are hidden under the soil’s surface (like ginger!).

But – propagation really should only be done if you have an established, healthy plant that hasn’t been recently relocated, repotted or otherwise stressed. Propagating is stressful and takes time for your plant to recover.

Attempt this only in early Spring 🙂

Here’s how:

  1. Water your plant 24 hours before propagation. This reduces the risk of transplant shock.
  2. Remove your plant from its container, being careful not to damage its roots. Use your fingers to gently coax your plant out of its pot, untangling compacted soil particles from delicate roots.
  3. Remove excess soil so that you can examine your plant’s roots and rhizomes. You may have to wash off the excess soil to fully expose the rhizomes.
  4. Identify a rhizome and using a sterilized knife, make a clean cut to separate the rhizome into two, where each part of the rhizome has its own root system and a few stems.
  5. Plant the separated rhizome into a new pot with fresh soil. Choose a location that has plenty of indirect light. If you have a humidifier, place it next to your plant and set at 70%.
  6. It takes about a month for both your baby plant and mother plant to recover.
  7. New growth signals your plants are fully recovered.
close up of the new growth emerging from the stem of a calathea beauty star, a popular houseplant
New growth!

Pruning

There’s not a lot of pruning to do for your Calathea Beauty Star. However, do cut off damaged leaves, near the base of the main stem. This allows your plant to focus its energy on new growth.

If your plant has crispy brown edges but the rest of the leaf still looks healthy, you can trim off the edges with clean garden shears.

Common Pests and Diseases

Overwatering and Root Rot

Overwatering is a common problem for Calatheas. They are susceptible to root rot, which occurs when roots are suffocated by too much water and cannot breathe.

As a result, healthy, firm white roots start decaying, turning soft, mushy and brown. The decay can also attract moisture-loving fungi that eat away at their roots. The rotting roots may also produce a foul smell.

  • Yellow leaves near the soil level are a common sign that your plant is overwatered. Check the soil moisture to confirm.
  • Adjust your watering practices, always allowing the top 1 inch of soil to dry before watering again. Check the soil moisture with your fingers before watering. Don’t just blindly follow a watering schedule, as changes in climate, growing seasons, and evaporation rates change your plant’s water requirements.
  • If overwatering has persisted for several weeks, you may need to take more drastic measures to save your overwatered plant. Here’s our step-by-step guide to rescuing your plant.

Spider mites

Super macro photo of group of Red Spider Mite infestation on vegetable. Insect concept.
Magnified photo of a red spider mite infestation on a vegetable plant.

Spider mites are very small, so it’s not easy to observe them directly without a microscope. Instead, look out for pale, grey stipplings on leaves or fine webbing on leaf undersides and near the stems as signs of a spider mite infestation.

These sap-sucking pests use sharp mouthparts to pierce plant tissue and feed on sugary sap. This deprives your plant of nutrients.

They also like to feed on chlorophyll, which accounts for the discoloration of leaves when they are present.

To get rid of spider mites, quarantine your infected plant away from healthy houseplants. Apply a dilute neem oil solution, or an Insecticide Soap Spray. Reapply per instructions. It may take a while before these pests are gone forever, but persistence is key.

For more details, check out our guide on identifying and getting rid of spider mites.

Troubleshooting

Curling Leaves

The most common reason for curling leaves is a lack of humidity. Aim for >60% humidity. Other possible issues are: too little water, or a pest infestation.

If humidity is not the problem, check the soil moisture, and inspect your plant for signs of spider mites.

a potted calathea beauty star in a blue pot

Leaves turning brown

Brown leaves may indicate:

  • Too much sunlight
  • Too low humidity (use a humidifier!)
  • Too little water
  • Too much mineral salts in the water (use purified water!)
  • Too much fertilizer salts (use a gentle, urea-free fertilizer and dilute to 1/4 strength)

Drooping Leaves

Drooping Beauty Star leaves typically mean improper watering (too much or too little), or a cold chill.

Check the soil moisture, and ensure your plant is in a warm spot indoors away from any drafts.

But also remember that your Beauty Star is a Prayer Plant, so its leaves move throughout the day. Don’t mistake its “praying and moving hands” for drooping leaves 🙂

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy a Calathea Beauty Star?

You can try buying a Beauty Star from a local nursery, though in our experience this has been a little hit and miss as they don’t always carry this particular cultivar.

If you’re out of luck, try online platforms like Etsy.

Can Calathea Beauty Star grow using LED or Artificial Lights?

Yes. Calatheas do well with artificial grow lights. These are a good idea if your home doesn’t get sufficient natural light. According to the University of Florida, the recommended light intensity is 1,000-2,000 foot candles.

What’s the difference between Calathea Beauty Star and Calathea Ornata?

a comparison of calathea ornata (left) and calathea beauty star (right) leaves.
Calathea Ornata (left) and Calathea Beauty Start (right).

A cultivar of the Calathea Ornata, the Beauty Star looks similar to its parent plant. However, there are a few differences:

  • Leaves of the Ornata are wider and rounder than the Beauty Star. The latter tends to be longer and narrower, with pointier tips.
  • The Beauty Star is more colorful. It has thick light green bands below its pink or cream stripes. The Ornata lacks these light green bands. It has pink or cream stripes directly on its dark green leaves.

Similar Plants and Varieties

Other plants from the Prayer Plant family

leaves of a the lemon lime maranta, a close relative of the calathea beauty star
A close relative, the Lemon Lime Maranta

Wrapping Up

The Calathea Beauty Star is a beautiful upright growing plant with ornamental leaves. To keep your Pinstripe Plant happy,

  • Give it warm, stable temperatures above >65 degrees F (18 degrees C).
  • >60% humidity is ideal, although 50-60% is good too.
  • Use a rich organic medium that is well-draining.
  • Provide 8-10 hours of medium to bright indirect light.
  • Use purified water, being careful not to overwater.
  • Fertilize sparingly using a urea-free liquid fertilizer.
  • Repot only when root-bound, once every 2-4 years in spring.

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.