Ctenanthe (Never Never plant) - Care tips

Ctenanthe (Never Never plant)

Ctenanthe, which you pronounce as “ten-an-thee,” are part of the Marantaceae family. This family consists of flowering plants and has around 15 species at this moment. This family is also called ‘never never plant’ or ‘prayer plant’, since the plants in this family close up their leaves at night, as they are in prayer. Their leaves open up in the morning again. The Ctenanthe are known as ‘Arrowroots’ since their rootstock contains an edible starch type that can be used for making arrowroot flour. They are native to Central and South America, primarily Brazil, which makes them tropical plants. Fun fact is that they are pretty resistant to lower humid environments. They do require a temperature of above 13 degrees celsius. And under the right circumstances they can even grow up to 2 metres, because of their bamboo-like strong stems.

When you look at the Ctenanthe you might think about a Maranta or Calathea as to look so similar. These families are all part of the Marantaceae family, but are different species. The biggest difference with a Calathea is that Ctenanthes develop above-ground branching stalks, while Calathea only creates new leaves from the root mass. The difference between Ctenanthe and Maranta, is that Maranta grows closer to the ground and grows in outward clumps, and Ctenathe’s grow straight up on stalk, with their leaves falling out like an umbrella. Interesting right?!

Ctenanthe Care Tips

Ctenanthe can be more on the delicate side, so caring for them could be more challenging. But she is definitely resistant to some neglect, again a big difference between the Ctenanthe and Calathea!

Since they are native to the tropics, they really appreciate a higher humid environment. Preferably between 70 and 80%, but Ctenanthe are resistant to a lower humidity.

Light and placement

She will thrive in medium to bright indirect light and keep in mind that she is sensitive to sunburn. Be aware that when you place your Ctenanthe in a darker spot, her foliage will change to a darker green colour. So the best spot for your beloved plant is an east or north facing window.


Ctenanthe loves to have moist soil, so water whenever the top of the soil feels dry. The amount of watering per week varies on how much light she gets, how high the humidity is and how big the plant is. So it’s best to either feel with your finger if the soil is dry every other day, or you can use a water-meter or a plant sensor. Make sure that she is able to drain well, because she can be sensitive to root rot.

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You can add nutrition to your water once every month. This will give her the energy to thrive! During winter you can keep away from the fertilizer as the Ctenanthe is enjoying her hibernation, just like many other plants.

Propagating a Ctenanthe

The Ctenanthe is very easy to take cuttings from by removing the little babies from the mother plant. By carefully pulling the mother plant apart you can quickly see which babies have formed their own roots. Babies with many roots of course have the best chance to survive. Carefully tear the baby apart and put her in another pot with fresh potting soil. The process sounds intense, but every child leaves home at some point, right? If you would like more information on propagation, you can give our PLNTS doctor a visit.


Most common pests on Ctenanthe

Ctenanthe is pretty sensitive to pests. Spider mites really seem to love Ctenanthe, but mealy bugs, scales, and thrips are also pests that you have to keep your eyes open for. It is best to prevent any type of pest, by using neem oil. This oil does not harm the plant, but is very effective in keeping your Ctenanthe free from pests. You can always visit our PLNTS doctor if you need any more information on pests.

Are Ctenanthe toxic for pets or children?

Ctenanthe are considered non-toxic, yay! But they can cause some irritation when they are ingested, or an allergic reaction. So nothing that is too severe, but always be careful with your beloved pets and children.

Buy your new Ctenanthe at PLNTS.com

At PLNTS.com you can buy Ctenanthe online, like the Ctenanthe Burle Marxii.

Whether you like your Ctenanthe big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - we’ve got you covered!

Hi, I'm Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!