The Fishbone prayer plant belongs to the prayer plant family and is one of the most beautiful prayer plants due to its uniquely patterned leaves mimicking a fish’s skeleton structure. Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii is another name for this plant. The plant is famous among enthusiasts who like growing it because of its unusually patterned leaves and burgundy underside.
However, if you want the plant’s leaves to have burgundy tones on the underside, you must provide it with optimal growing conditions. We have compiled a thorough care guide for Fishbone Prayer plants to help keep your fishbone prayer plant healthy and adorning vivid hues.
Background on Ctenanthe Burle Marxii
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Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii is a tropical plant that is indigenous to Brazil. It was given its scientific name in honor of a renowned architect Burle Marx scientific name. The plant is categorized as a slow-growing species since it takes around two seasons to get to its maximum height.
The fishbone prayer plant leaves are oval-shaped and can grow approximately 12 inches long. The foliage also grows in clusters that resemble fans. It is also known to fold its leaves at nighttime, which is why it is categorized as a “prayer plant.”
Fishbone Prayer Plant Care Guide
Below are a few factors you must consider to ensure your Ctenanthe plants flourish all year round.
The fishbone prayer plants thrive with indirect light exposure of around 6 to 8 hours daily. The unique aspect of this plant is that it will communicate if it isn’t receiving enough sunlight by fading its leaves.
Thus proper lighting conditions are essential for its well-being. The fishbone prayer plant prefers bright indirect light and the filtered early morning sun or the gentle light in the mid-afternoon is suitable.
However, since it flourishes beneath tree canopies in its natural environment, it can survive in mild, indirect sunlight or even complete shade.
If you notice fading on the plant’s leaves, moving your fishbone prayer plant closer to the windows will help ensure it receives the right amount of sunlight.
However, if the sunlight is intense, it is advised to keep your Fishbone prayer plant distanced from the window or to filter the direct light through a light curtain since too much light might cause the plant’s leaves to burn.
You can also invest in plant grow lights if you live somewhere with little to no sunlight to provide your fishbone prayer plant with appropriate light.
Some plant owners experience difficulty providing fishbone prayer plants with the correct humidity, especially if this is the first time they have owned this species and if they live in dry locations.
Since the plant requires high humidity all year and flourishes in humid environments, it may demand more moisture than other plants. The optimal humidity range for Ctenanthe Burle Marxii is about 50% and 60%.
This is because the plant is native to South American areas and some parts of Southeast Asia, where the humidity levels typically range from the high 50s to the 60s.
Since most homes’ humidity level falls from 30 to 50 percent, it becomes essential for fishbone prayer plant owners who like keeping this plant indoors to take extra measures to offer appropriate humidity levels.
You can achieve appropriate humidity levels in your home by taking some of the measures mentioned below:
Invest in a humidifier
Investing in a humidifier and keeping it close to your Ctenanthe Burle Marxii is one of the best ways to offer additional humidity to your fishbone prayer plant. This becomes mandatory if you live somewhere where the weather is dry.
Place the plant on a base of stones within a water dish
Keeping your fishbone prayer near a water source can help alleviate the humidity levels in its surroundings. Therefore, keeping the plant’s pot on top of a base of stones inside a water dish is another method to provide the plant with the proper humidity levels.
Keep the plant in your bathroom
The bathroom is among the most humid places in your home since it has a water source. Keeping your fishbone prayer plant in the bathroom can also help you increase the humidity levels around it and keep the plant happy.
Pro Tip! If you are unsure of the humidity levels in your home, then investing in a digital humidity sensor can assist you in determining the humidity levels within your home and taking action accordingly.
Since Fishbone Prayer plants are categorized as tropical plants, they prefer warm temperatures over colder ones. The ideal temperature for this plant is between 18 degrees Celcius to 23 degrees. However, it can also survive in temperatures ranging from 29 degrees Celcius to 32 degrees Celsius.
It is recommended that you bring your fishbone prayer plant indoors during the colder months since cold temperatures lower than 15 degrees Celsius can cause the condition of your plant to deteriorate.
You must also avoid keeping your fishbone prayer plant in cold rooms since it prefers average room temperatures, and colder temperatures can cause the plant significant stress.
Additionally, keep the windows shut during wintertime since keeping your fishbone prayer plant near open windows that blow in cold wind gusts can cause the plant to go into shock.
Since the fishbone prayer plant prefers being moist, the potting mix you choose for it should also have the properties of retaining water. However, the soil should also be capable of draining any excess water to prevent the plant from drowning and suffering issues like root rot.
The ideal potting mix for a Ctenanthe Burle Marxii is a well-draining soil mix. You can easily purchase a well-draining soil mix at your local nursery or order it online.
The most common commercially sold potting soil for fishbone prayer plants is African Violet potting mix. Here are a few examples of the soil mix ideal for your fishbone prayer plants.
Potting Soil For Fishbone Prayer Plants
Standard potting mix mixed with perlite or sand
One part sand or perlite mixed with two parts peat
So if you cannot find a well-draining soil mix appropriate for fish bone prayer plants, you can easily DIY one by purchasing the above components and mixing them.
As discussed above, Ctenanthe plants prefer moist soil — getting enough water is essential for optimal growth. Regular watering during hotter months can be the secret to a happy fishbone prayer plant.
However, that being said, you must not always drown your Ctenanthe plants with water since continuously waterlogged soil may cause the plant to develop conditions like root rot.
The best way to ensure that you are not underwatering or overwatering your plant is to allow it to dry halfway after watering before you water it again.
Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, fishbone prayer plants are not prone to catching pests and diseases; however, keeping the plant clean and well taken care of is essential to avoid ending up with a pest-infested or diseased plant. Mealy bugs and spider mites are some pests that may make fishbone prayer plants their home.
Inspecting your plant for signs of disease or pests between watering is a great way to catch any diseases and pest infestations before they worsen. If you notice any such issues, the best thing you can do is to separate your Ctenanthe Burle Marxii from other plants to avoid contaminating them.
Next, treat the plant with a natural pesticide like neem oil rather than commercially bought pesticides which may contain strong chemicals that can harm your already weak plant.
Offering fertilizer to your Ctenanthe Burle Marxii during the growing season (spring and summer) can help you provide additional nutrients needed for the plant to grow efficiently. Experts recommend feeding a slow-release or an all-purpose fertilizer every month is enough for the plant during these months.
Fertilizing once per month will allow you to avoid overfeeding your fishbone prayer plant. If the tips of your Ctenanthe Burle Marxii is a sign that you have been providing more fertilizer to the plant than it needs.
If this occurs, immediately stop fertilizing and try not to fertilize the plant for atleast until the leaves heal, and return to their original color. Moreover, you must also avoid fertilizing your fishbone prayer plant during the winter and fall months.
The fishbone prayer plant is not a fast-growing species, so regular pruning is unnecessary.
However, if you notice the plant getting bushy since it has large clusters of leaves that tend to look bushy if left unpruned for a few months, you can do some light pruning to maintain the plant’s shape.
Always use sterilized pruning shears to prune your fishbone prayer plant and focus on removing old, brown, and yellow leaves to encourage new growth.
Even though you can propagate fishbone prayer plant in several ways such as through leaf or stem cuttings, the division method is ideal for propagating these plants.
Even though propagating fishbone prayer plants through the division method can be challenging and require slightly more effort, it also offers you the benefit of already having a semi-grown fishbone prayer plant.
Most people despise the time it takes for stem cuttings to develop into roots; therefore, this method of propagating is the best way to avoid waiting time. Here is how you can propagate fishbone prayer plants through the division method:
Propagating Fishbone Prayer Plants Through Division
What you will need
Fresh potting mix
To propagate your fishbone prayer plant, first, remove the mother plant you are using for the propagation from its container
Next, separate the stems, avoid pulling, which can break the leaves, and instead use pruning shears to separate the stems of the plant gently
Depending on the number of stems you have collected, fill up a few pots with fresh potting mix with a trowel and then plant each stem into its designated pot
As Ctenanthe Burle Marxii takes a long time to grow and only grows 12 inches in height, it will not require frequent repotting. According to experts, you may have to re-pot your Ctenanthe Burle Marxii every two years.
When your plant grows out of its old pot, its roots begin to get crammed within the pot and lack space to grow further.
So, if you think that your fishbone prayer plant has outgrown its pot, then repotting becomes necessary. Here is how you can re-pot your fishbone prayer plant.
What you will need
A new pot (The new pot should be slightly larger than your old pot)
Well-draining potting mix
To begin repotting your fishbone prayer plant, gently take your plant out of its pot
Next, fill up the new plant pot with fresh potting mix with the help of a trowel
Now plant the root ball into the new pot
Lastly, water the fresh soil mix and make sure to soak the soil since the plant enjoys having moist soil at all times
Ctenanthe Burle Marxii is a beautiful specie of the prayer plant genus that all plant enthusiasts must add to their collection. The plant can be slightly demanding when it comes to moisture.
However, by following the tips mentioned above, anyone who may not have experience growing plants can cultivate healthy fishbone prayer plants.