Ctenanthe (Never Never plant) - Expert tips

How to Care for Ctenanthe (Never Never Plant) - Expert Tips for Thriving Plants

Ctenanthe is a beautiful tropical houseplant with much popularity among plant parents. While they can be a bit fussy, their beauty makes up for it. They are native to Central and South America, primarily Brazil, where they grow in the undergrowth of humid and warm tropical forests.

Ctenanthe is a plant with a unique name that's pronounced "ten-an-thee" (the "c" is silent). They are also known as the Never Never Plant or Prayer Plant because they close their leaves at night as if they're in prayer and open them again in the morning. They are part of the Marantaceae family, along with Calathea and Maranta.

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 Ctenanthe’s grow straight up on stalk, with their leaves falling out like an umbrella. Interesting right?!

Ctenanthe Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Provide bright but filtered light for your Ctenanthe. Direct sunlight can scorch its leaves, while too low light can cause it to become leggy.
  2. It likes to be kept moist but not wet. Allow the top layer of soil to dry slightly between waterings, but don't let it dry out completely.
  3. Be careful not to overwater your Ctenanthe plant. Overwatering is a really common problem with them. Always check the soil before watering, and be sure to use a pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.
  4. If you notice curled leaves on your Ctenanthe, it could be a sign that your plant is either overwatered or underwatered. Check the soil and adjust your care routine accordingly.
  5. High humidity is key to happiness. While they can tolerate lower humidity levels as low as 40%, they still love humidity levels around 50-70%.
  6. Avoid cold drafts. Ctenanthe plants are tropical and prefer warm temperatures. Keep them away from cold drafts, such as near air conditioning units or open windows.
  7. Fertilise occasionally. Light fertilising with a balanced plant food once every month can help promote healthy growth.
  8. Keep your eye on pests. Ctenanthe plants are vulnerable to pests like spider mites and mealybugs. Regularly inspect the plant for signs of infestation and treat it as necessary.
  9. Regular pruning can help keep your Ctenanthe plant healthy and promote new growth. Trim off any dead or damaged leaves, and cut back leggy stems to encourage bushier growth.
  10. Keep an eye out for signs of stress. Ctenanthe plants can be sensitive to environmental changes, so watch for signs of stress, such as drooping leaves or discolouration. Adjust the plant's care as necessary to keep it healthy and thriving.

Ctenanthe Care Tips

Ctenanthe is a beautiful plant that requires some care and attention, but don't worry if you're new to plant parenting. While she can be a bit delicate, she is also quite resilient and forgiving if you forget about her occasionally. This is again a big difference between the Ctenanthe and Calathea!

Light and placement

Ctenanthe is a plant that loves medium to bright indirect light. To give it the perfect spot in your home, consider placing it a little away from an east- or west-facing window or in a north-facing window. You can also use artificial light to ensure it gets enough light.

Good to know! Ctenanthe is sensitive to direct sunlight and can get sunburned easily. So avoid spots with direct sunlight and use curtains to shade those intense sun rays.

If your Ctenanthe isn't getting enough light, you may notice that it's not growing as quickly as it should and that its leaves are losing their vibrant colours and starting to curl. Don't worry, though - you can help your plant bounce back by simply moving it to a brighter location.

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Ctenanthe thrives when the soil is kept moist but not too wet. While getting the watering right at first may seem tricky, you'll become a pro in no time with a bit of practice! It’s best to water your Ctenanthe when the top layer of soil feels slightly dry to the touch. Avoid watering it too often or letting it dry out completely.

The amount of watering per week varies on how much light she gets, how high the humidity is and how big the plant is. They may need even less frequent watering during winter as they are dormant. 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.

Expert tip! If you doubt whether it is the right time to water, it's better to keep it drier than too wet. This is because Ctenanthe can recover more easily from dryness than from overwatering.

If you see your Ctenanthe's leaves curling, check the soil! The plant curls its leaves to save water when it's either too dry or overwatered. If the soil is wet, it might be overwatered; if it's bone dry, it needs more water.


Ctenanthe plants are not heavy feeders. Occasional plant food will give them the energy to grow more beautiful and healthy. Use PLNTS Nutrition liquid plant food once every month during spring and summer. During winter, you can keep away from the fertiliser as the Ctenanthe is enjoying hibernation, just like many other plants.

Temperature & humidity

Ctenanthe is a tropical houseplant that enjoys warm and humid environments. To keep your Ctenanthe happy, keep temperatures between 18-27°C and humidity levels between 50-70%.

However, if you live in a drier environment, don't worry! Ctenanthe can tolerate lower humidity levels, too. But if you notice the edges of the leaves turning brown or curling, it may be a sign that the plant needs more humidity. Read how to increase humidity for plants.

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Soil & repotting

Ctenanthe is a low-maintenance plant that doesn't require very frequent repotting - usually every 2-3 years or when you notice the roots growing out of the drainage holes. When it's time to repot, choose a pot slightly larger than the current one. We recommend trying PLNTS organic potting soil - it's a great option to help prevent overwatering and provide your Ctenanthe with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and happy!

Ctenanthe Propagation

Ctenanthe is a relatively easy plant to propagate by separating small plant 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 have the best chance of survival. Carefully pull 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?

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 solution. 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.

Is Ctenanthe toxic for pets or children?

Ctenanthe is 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 online at PLNTS.com

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

Whether you like your Ctenanthe big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy your new Ctenanthe online at PLNTS.com

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

Hi, I’m Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!