How to Grow and Care for Ctenanthe Plant Indoors

Ctenanthe Plant

Botanical name: Ctenanthe spp
Family: Marantaceae


Ctenanthe Plants are rare, evergreen, perennial plants which are grown as indoors plants for their attractive and often variegated foliage.

The leaves are large, oval-shaped and are marked by strikingly beautiful silver patterns. The undersides are often a beautiful dark-maroon color.


Ctenanthe grow to a height of about 7 ft and the large, oval-shaped leaves are usually about 1-2 ft long.


There are about 15 species in the Ctenanthe genus but only a few can be grown indoors succussfully.

The popular Ctenanthe species for indoors include;

Ctenanthe lubbersiana, (Bamburanta),

Ctenanthe burle-marxii, (Fishbone Prayer Plant),

Ctenanthe amabilis, (Beautiful Ctenanthe),

Ctenanthe oppenheimiana 'Tricolor', (Never Never Plant),

Ctenanthe setosa among others.

Related Plants

Ctenanthe are closely related to the Calathea, Maranta and Stromanthe.

These groups of plants are sometimes commonly called Prayer Plants in reference to their curious characteristic of closing their leaves at night.


Ctenanthe spp are native to the topical regions of Central and South America, mainly Brazil.


Ctenanthe Plants (Ctenanthe spp) like other Marantaceae plants are non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. They are safe to grow indoors.

Where to Buy

Various Ctenanthe are avilable online at Etsy. Buy beautiful Ctenanthe Plants online from Etsy.

Ctenanthe Plant

Ctenanthe Plant Care Indoors

Ctenanthe Plant thrives in bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and consistently moist, fertile, well drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season. It cannot tolerate soggy soil as it can result in root-rot.

Ctenanthe Plant requires pruning to keep it neat, to reduce pest and disease infestations and to rejuvenate growth. Repotting is needed every 2 years when it has become pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these conditions and how to provide them.

Light requirements

Ctenanthe Plant grows best in bright, indirect light. Too little light will result in loss of the beautiful variegation.

Keep it away from direct sunlight as it can lead to scorching and yellowish leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth and prevent leggy growth.

Ctenanthe Plants can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.


Water Ctenanthe Plants thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and keep the soil moist at all times.

Decrease watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time to maintain the soil slightly moist.

Ctenanthe Plants are sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water, therefore, water it with water that is free of chlorine and flourides.

Being a tropical plant, water it with water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant which can result in reduced growth.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.

Avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead to prevent fungal infestation.


Ctenanthe Plant prefer average warmth with a minimum of 130C. Protect the plant from cold draughts and sudden changes in temperature.


Ctenanthe Plants require high humidity inorder to thrive. To increase humidity, surround the pot with wet moss or set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Ctenanthe can also be grown in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.

Clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat as well as discourage pests and diseases.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Ctenanthe Plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once monthly through out the growing season. Stop feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.


Repot Ctenanthe Plant every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season when the plant becomes pot bound. Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one.

Ctenanthe Plants do not like to sit in soggy soil, therefore, ensure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole as soggy soil can lead to root-rot.

The large plants can be divided at the time of repotting and use the splits to propagate new plants.


The best soil for Ctenanthe Plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Buy quality Potting Mix for Ctenanthe Plants online from Etsy.


Pruning Ctenanthe Plant is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and also minimize pests and disease infestations. Cut back the stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.


Ctenanthe Plant propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season by plant division.

How to propagate Ctenanthe by plant division

Take the Ctenanthe plant out of its pot and divide it into several sections. Ensure each section has some roots inorder to hasten rooting.

Pot the sections into individual pots in moist, free-draining soil. Ensure the pots have a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment of the Ctenanthe plants.

Place the pots in a warm, well-lit shaded place until new growth has emerged in the sections.

Gradually remove the polythene cover over a period of two weeks to acclimate the new plants.

Then move the set up to a warm, brightly-lit place and maintain the soil moist until the new Ctenanthe Plants are well established after which routine care can begin.

Ctenanthe Plant, Prayer Plant

Ctenanthe Plant Growing Problems

Ctenanthe Plant common problems include brown leaf tips, rotting, curled and yellow leaves, scorched leaves, stunted growth, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to solve them.

Brown leaf tips and edges

Ctenanthe brown leaf tips and edges is due to too dry air (low humidity) as the plants are very sensitive to low air humidity.

To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in a bathroom and other moist areas in the home.

You can also grow Ctenanthe in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium.

Limp and rotting stems

Ctenanthe limp and rotting stems are due to too cold air and or too wet soil. At this point, the plant may be too far gone to be saved.

To prevent limp and rotting stems, maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 130C.

Keep the plant away from cold draughts like windy doors and windows, air conditioning units among others to prevent sudden changes in temperature.

Also, avoid soggy soil by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining.

Curled, spotted leaves and lower leaves yellowing

Ctenanthe curled, spotted leaves and lower leaves yellowing are due to underwatering.

Water the Ctenanthe Plant liberally and keep the soil consistently moist during the growing season.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not let the soil dry out completely.

Brown and dry leaf tips, stunted growth

Ctenanthe brown and dry leaf tips accompanied by stunted growth are an indication of spider mite infestation due to the air being too dry.

Remove the dead growth and set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to elevate humidity.

Discolored or scorched leaves

Ctenanthe discolored or scorched leaves are due to exposure to of the plant direct sunlight. Move the plant to a shaded spot or protect it from direct sunlight to prevent its death.


Common pests in Ctenanthe are mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and treat pests in houseplants.


Ctenanthe is prone to leaf spot disease due to the humid conditions that it prefers. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the leaf spot disease.

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