Growing Geogenanthus ciliatus

Growing Geogenanthus ciliatus
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One too many nights of restlessness introduced me to Geogenanthus ciliatus. Here I am, minding my own business while I crawl the internet looking at plants. With black, glossy leaves I was immediately intrigued. I squelched my desire to buy one online, but became determined to locate this plant.

Geogenanthus ciliatus is a mouthful of a plant. I simply call it the “geo plant.” You might think the “geo plant” as having rigid, geometric edges but that is not so.

Geogenanthus ciliatus

Geogenanthus ciliatus is prized for its distinctive, luxurious leaves. They start brilliant green with a broad purple stripe, and then the leaves turn a dark, shiny purple as they mature. It’s almost dark. If your environment is suitable, it forms a beautiful ground cover, but it is best kept as a terrarium or potted plant due to its complex needs.

According to Kew Science, it is a flowering plant belonging to the Commelinaceae plant family, often known as the dayflower and spiderwort family.

Did you know that there are only three species of Geogenanthus, and only two of these are available for sale as houseplants? Having a Ciliatus is lovely, but knowing how to care for it is the first step in really appreciating its beauty.

Are Geogenanthus ciliatus plants rare?

Usually I would say yes, but to be honest I found my two plants at Walmart. Seriously! I couldn’t believe it either. My research for this plant found that it was named Favorite New Foliage Plant at the FNGLA’s Tropical Plant International Expo (TPIE) in 2022. This plant was exhibited by industry giant Costa Farms, so this was a good sign that more were on their way to the public!

Geo is one of the plants in the Costa Farms Trending Tropicals collection (I’m a big fan of ALL of these plants!). Many of these collections from Costa Farms are distributed at WalMarts and Lowes, so there is a definite incentive to do some plant searching at these big box stores.

Nonetheless, is Geogenanthus ciliatus rare? My answer would still be yes. Very few garden centers and specialty shops are going to have this on hand. Warm temperatures make it a good time to order online from a reputable source.

Geo Plant in Outdoor Pots

Since I bought both of the plants when I found them, it is giving me a chance to try growing Geo plant as a container plant outdoors. I am hoping that a humid Iowa summer will make this plant happy. Shown in the photo below, there is a lot of new growth so far and it seems to be doing very well.

Once nighttime temperatures get around 50 degrees or so I am plan to dig it from the large combination planter and move it to its own pot inside for the winter.

Geogenanthus ciliatus

Care Guide For Geogenanthus ciliatus

1.    Lighting Needs

The harshness of bright sunshine can destroy these lovely leaves, so keep your geo plant in the shade or away from windows that receive too much direct light. Artificial lights, in fact, are ideal for these creatures since they like lower light levels.

If you keep them in a terrarium with fluorescent lamps, you’ll have complete control over how much light they get. To aid with light, you might use some Ikea garden cabinets. I’ve had mine in a south-facing washroom window right now, but it’s winter. When the sunlight is too strong in the summer, I’ll have to relocate it.

2.    Water Needs

The foliage on this lovely plant is simply outstanding. However, you will need to put in some work to preserve the attractiveness of this plant, and one of the most crucial elements is watering. Because this plant is native to a moist environment, it requires consistent watering.

As an indoor plant, Geogenanthus ciliatus will require frequent watering, so keep an eye on the soil for signs of dryness.

What happened to my Geo plant below? To be honest, I don’t know. I am hoping that it was some issue that happened before I got it, but I just can’t be sure. Once I saw this start to happen I made sure the soil was moist (it was) and then decided to ease up on the watering a little bit. I was so concerned about it drying out that I think I may have been drowning it.

3.    Soil Needs

For Geogenanthus ciliatus, any ordinary houseplant potting mixture will suffice. I would recommend using a high quality potting mix, but I haven’t found that this is an extremely important detail.

4.    Temperature

This plant can tolerate a wide variety of climates, from hot to cold. However, I would advise keeping the temps within the needed range to guarantee optimal development.

Geogenanthus ciliatus can endure a minimum indoor temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius). Because temperature variations might stunt the growth of this houseplant, always make sure that my Geo plant is placed away from chilly or draughty windows and doors.

5.    Humidity Needs

This species thrives in humid environments. This is the part that has me most nervous about this plant being grown as a houseplant in Iowa. Right now it is summer and we have plenty of humidity, but I am a little anxious about the dry winter months. We will see.

But, I am taking advantage of our humid summers by growing this plant outdoors in a large container. Its doing great!

Geogenanthus ciliatus

6.    Fertilizers for Geogenanthus ciliatus

Because this species has an active growth phase in the spring and summer, it requires more nutrients at those times.

I would recommend applying a half-strength organic liquid fertilizer of high quality. You can aim for a 10-10-10 balanced ratio.

This ensures that all nutrients are supplied evenly. Overdosage can result in chemical burns or toxicity; thus, diluting the fertilizer is crucial. It can also change the pH of the soil, resulting in an inefficient soil mix.

How to propagate Geogenanthus ciliatus?

Stem cutting or rhizome division is this plant’s most common propagation method. The optimum time of year to propagate a Geogenanthus ciliatus is during the spring.

The best technique to propagate a Geogenanthus ciliatus is to use stem cuttings. This should be done in the spring, at the beginning of the growing season. Choose a healthy stem with at least 1 – 2 leaves.

Cut the stem just under the leaf and set it aside to dry for a day or so on a paper towel. Plant the node in a tiny container with new soil after dipping it in the rooting hormone.

Geogenanthus ciliatus
Geogenanthus ciliatus from Costa Farms

Bottom Line

Now that I have two Geo plants growing I am looking forward to seeing how they will grow for me. Since Geogenanthus ciliatus can thrive in dappled sunshine and low light settings I am hoping it will add some really great color and texture to my indoor plants. I do think it is going to take some time to get it dialed in on water needs, but it is worth the effort.

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