We are obsessed with the Pinstripe Calathea right now, their incredible pink striped leaves make them stand out in any urban jungle. But it can be devastating when you realise that your plant has developed brown leaves. As long as you’ve caught the problem early enough, there are several methods you can try to bring your Pinstripe Calathea back to full health.
A common cause of brown leaves on a Pinstripe Calathea is consistent underwatering
Whilst your plant will forgive you for the occasional lack of water, if the problem persists, your plant will most likely develop brown patches. These will show up as light brown, crispy and very dry and occur throughout the leaf, rather than the tip.
Before you start pouring a bucket of water over your Pinstripe Calathea to make up for lost time, it’s important that you’re 100% sure it’s the cause of the brown leaves. The best way to do this is to take your plant out of its pot and feel how dry the potting mix is. If your Pinstripe Calathea is underwatered, the potting mix will be dry and crumbly and the roots may look crispy.
Instead of drowning your plant in hopes that it will start to take in water, it’s important that you slowly reintroduce moisture to your plant. If you go from one extreme to the next, it will cause your Pinstripe Calathea to go into shock and this will just make the problem worse. Instead, water your plant a little bit once a day for about a week.
To stop the problem from happening again, we recommend buying a moisture meter. These are really affordable little devices that indicate how much moisture is in the potting mix. So gone are the days of guessing when to water. These will help you avoid underwatering (as well as overwatering and root rot) which should help prevent brown leaves on your Pinstripe Calathea in future.
Lack of humidity can also cause brown leaves
If your Pinstripe Calathea is turning brown from the tips or edges inwards, then it is most likely caused by a lack of humidity. Dry air means your Calathea will transpire a lot more, which is when it loses moisture through the leaves. This can cause the tips and edges to dry out and become brown. This tends to be more common over winter as central heating and a lack of ventilation will lead to particularly dry air.
Luckily, there are a few really simple ways to increase humidity for your Pinstripe Calathea to prevent any more brown leaf tips:
Misting the Leaves
Misting your Pinstripe Calathea is one of the easiest ways to give the humidity level a bit of a boost and prevent any brown leaves. The best way to do this is by using a spray bottle and misting the leaves about 3 or 4 times a week. (We love these amber glass ones from Amazon).
Top tip: It’s important that you mist the leaves in the morning. This gives enough time for the water droplets to evaporate before the evening. If the leaves of your Pinstripe Calathea are still moist as the temperatures drop at night, they are a lot more likely to rot which causes a whole other issue.
Your Pinstripe Calathea might not be in the best place and you might want to consider moving your plant to a slightly more humid spot to avoid any more brown leaves. If you’ve got a good enough level of natural light in your kitchen or bathroom then we recommend placing your Pinstripe Calathea in there. The humidity level in those rooms is usually slightly higher because of steam from showering and cooking. This will help to prevent brown leaves and leaf tips on your Pinstripe Calathea. Just make sure not to put your plant too close to the cooker or it might burn the leaves…
Buy a Humidifier
Every plant parent should own a humidifier because they make keeping a nice stable humidity level a total breeze! They are also great for a lot of your other tropical houseplants to ensure they get enough humidity during winter, which goes a long way to stopping any brown leaves from developing. Oh and they’re super affordable and help with our sleep so what’s not to love!
We always recommend this humidifier from Amazon as a great place to start.
If you want to learn more about how to raise the humidity for your Pinstripe Calathea and other houseplants then check out our complete guide to humidity.
Brown leaves can indicate water sensitivity issues
Although this is a slightly rarer problem, it can happen that the brown leaves on your Pinstripe Calathea are caused by too much fluoride in the tap water. If you live in a hard water area, you might want to use rainwater or distilled water to avoid this sensitivity. Over time, too much fluoride, chlorine, salts and minerals can build up in the potting soil and prevent the roots from taking up the needed oxygen. This can cause brown tips and edges on your Pinstripe Calathea.
If you don’t feel like investing in a water-purifying system to solve the issues with your Pinstripe Calathea (we don’t blame you as they are very very expensive) then you can leave your watering can out for a day. The chemicals will then evaporate from the water. You can also use collected rainwater to avoid giving your plant chemicals from your treated tap water.
Brown leaves can also simply be caused by natural ageing
As your Pinstripe Calathea matures, it may occasionally lose a lower leaf as a natural sign of ageing. This is because it is using the energy to create new healthy and bigger growth. Before a leaf falls off, it will start to turn brown or yellow. This is totally normal and you shouldn’t worry so long as the rate is quite slow. Keep track of how many leaves are going brown on your Pinstripe Calathea and as long as it’s only a few per year, this is totally fine.
If you think your Pinstripe Calathea is losing too many brown leaves, double-check the environment around your plant as it could be a sign of one of the issues we have covered off above.
So those are the most common reasons why Pinstripe Calathea plants can start to develop brown leaves, tips or patches. As long as the problem is caught fairly early, it shouldn’t be a death sentence for your plant and there’s no reason why you can’t get it back to full health with a bit of TLC.
If you want to find out more about caring for your plant, as well as how to diagnose and fix other common issues, check out our Pinstripe Calathea care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson