I get great joy out of bringing plants back to life. Occasionally you will find me sifting through the clearance plant rack at my local hardware store searching for something worth a rescue. On my latest trip I picked up a Ctenanthe lubbersiana that was about to call it a day.

My Never-Never Plant was marked as a Calathea and at first I thought I was buying a ‘Peacock Plant’. Either way, I am looking forward to nursing this Ctenanthe back to health.

Ctenanthe Plant Rescue:

First thing you do when you bring home a sick plant is to dig down and check for root issues. You’re too late if the roots are rotted. As I dig into the soil of my rescued Ctenanthe to find it was really wet and really loose. After I dumped the dirt into the trash, the plant gently rolled out without a problem. I didn’t have to rinse the roots or anything because it was just sitting in this sad wet mud. After a quick look, a few pinches here and there, it appears that the roots are in good shape.

Second, I peel away the dead leaves and stalks. There is something cathartic about cleaning away the dry, crunchy foliage and brightening up the plant.

Next, I place my plant in a new plastic pot with fresh soil paying close attention to the soil line. Make sure to repot a new plant at the level it was originally potted. When the plant is all settled, I sprinkle some systemic pest control onto the dirt. This should take care of any bugs that might be lurking and it adds a little bit of fertilizer to aid in growth. When rescued, the Ctenanthe’s soil was very wet so I let the roots dry out a bit before watering again.

After a couple days in the sun I give my new Ctenanthe a fresh watering. This plant likes moist soil and high humidity so placing it next to a few of my other plants will help in increasing its humidity. Despite the wrong label that stated low light, this plant needs bright indirect light.


One month has passed since my Ctenanthe lubbersiana plant makeover and I was so excited to see new stalks emerging from the soil. This is a great sign that something must be going right.