Houseplant of the Week: Geogenanthus ciliatrius

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A relative newcomer to the houseplant scene, Geogenanthus ciliatrius (or “Geo” for short), is a stunner originally from the rainforests of Ecuador and Peru. Until recently, it was relatively hard to come by, but last year Geo became the “it” plant, getting a lot of press in articles with headlines like “The 12 Coolest New Houseplants of 2022.”

It’s easy to see what the buzz is about.

The plant has large, shiny oval-shaped leaves that are so dark they almost appear black (typically, they start out green with a purple stripe and as they age the purple takes over and grows deeper and deeper in color).

But they are a bit tricky to cultivate. They prefer low-light areas, so don’t stick them on a windowsill or in a bright room. As befits their rainforest beginnings, they like their soil moist and their air humid. Let the top inch of soil dry out and then completely drench the plant when you water. Geo will quickly decline if its soil gets too dry. Use an evaporation tray to provide the humid air it craves.

You can feed your plant during the spring and summer, but not when it isn’t actively growing. In fact, over-fertilizing can do more harm than good.

Finally, “listen” to your Geo, because it will let you know when it needs some tender care. Curling or limp leaves? Probably your plant’s soil is too dry. Brown leaf edges? Geo is telling you it needs more humidity. Brown spots are usually caused by your plant being hit with direct sunlight.

Lastly, those large lovely leaves can get dusty, and this not only diminishes the look of the plant, it can also interfere with its biological functions. Rinse the plant off or wipe the leaves with a clean cloth periodically to keep your Geo healthy and looking beautiful.