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.
This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this! Would you mind saying specifically what type of systemic pest control you sprinkle into the dirt when replanting?
I used Bonide Systemic granules. I am pretty sure I just picked them up at Lowe’s or my local nursery.
I’m so glad I stumbled upon this. I got one of these from Lowe’s…also mislabeled as a peacock plant, also horribly mistreated as usual! I’m trying to bring mine back to life and this is helpful!
Nice! Congrats! I bet with a little TLC, warmth and a nice bright window it will bounce back beautifully.
Last time I got one of these from Lowes I worried about root rot and repotted, clipping off bad roots and peroxide treated it. It died. I’m afraid to repot this. It has some brown crispy parts of leaves and a few stalks I’ve pulled out, maybe a little root rot on a couple clumps but I’m trying to just do the peroxide thing to avoid shocking it. What do you think and how far back from southern window?
I need to look into this peroxide treatment. I am not too familiar with it. I would definitely clip off the bad roots. I think you are fine to repot it and maybe set it on a pebble tray with water to keep the humidity up or use a humidifier if you house is dry. A southern window will be good, bright indirect light so maybe push it back so the sun isn’t right on its leaves. Not sure where you are located, but with it being winter, the sun isn’t too strong so you are probably alright putting it closer to the window than you would in summer.
I’m working on bringing mine back from the almost dead after it didn’t acclimate to my house very well. I have some y’all stalk that lean quite a bit, they can’t stand up on their own, and a lot of bushy new growth at the bottom. Any advice? I was thinking about cutting down the long stalks and trying to propagate? If that’s even possible? Thanks in advance!
Yea, you can propagate stem cuttings, but you’ll want to dig down and get some of the rhizome when you cut it. Pot it up, keep the plant warm and the soil moist and then when you see new growth coming through maybe then cut the big stem down and you’ll have a more compact new plant. I would just prop the cutting up with a stick or post and some gardeners tape while propagating. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!