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How to Easily Grow and Care For Geogenanthus Ciliatus (Geo Plant)

Geo plant has become all the rage recently with its lush, extra glossy circular leaves. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about how to care for your geo plant.
blog post authorShrish Tariq
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Top level view of a geogenanthus ciliatus plant with its dark green, almost black foliage.

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Geogenanthus ciliatus is a popular houseplant highly coveted for its uniquely glossy, colored foliage. This extraordinary plant is a head-turner when grown indoors and outdoors. 
The geo plant produces radiant deep purple leaves, making them desirable for interior spaces.
Additionally, this plant is easy-care and has fantastic growth when provided with ideal care conditions: a humid environment, moist soil, and medium indirect sunlight. 
In this care guide, we’ll cover more about proper Geogenanthus ciliatus plant care, growth, and propagation techniques.

What is a Geogenanthus Ciliatus

Geogenanthus ciliatus (nicknamed “Geo plant”) is a close relative of Tradescantia (inch plant) and Rhoeo (oyster plant) in the Commelinaceae or Spiderwort family. It is native to the tropics of South America, including Ecuador, Columbia, and Peru, where the geo plant grows as a ground cover trailing along the rainforest floors.
The Geo plant is an adaptable houseplant that thrives under the dappled light of jungle canopies in its native environment. It produces luxurious, large, and stunning leaves that are super shiny with a deep purple-black appearance and can reach up to 24 inches in diameter. 
The leaves change their color as they mature. A young plant’s leaves appear luscious green with a thick central purple stripe and leathery texture. Later, their foliage changes to dark purplish black on the underside with a velvety texture and black green with a glossy finish on the upper side as they grow older. This evolution gives a striking appearance against an interiorscape.
When grown in ideal conditions, Geogenanthus ciliatus produces purple flowers on long pedicels that display themselves amongst the gorgeous foliage.
The genus Geogenanthus includes two other species: G. poeppigii and G. rhizanthus. Among all these three species, only two (G. ciliatus and G. poeppigii)  make the ideal indoor houseplants and are perfect for terrariums. 
These two Geogenanthus species bring exotic vibes when paired with low-light indoor plants such as Philodendrons, Alocasias, Begonia maculata, Calathea, and Peace lilies. 
For more gothic vibes, place the Geogenanthus ciliatus next to the Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven' (black ZZ plant) and Calatheas.
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This rare tropical won a “Best New Foliage” award in 2022
This rare tropical plant is so beautiful that it has won the “Best New Foliage” award at the Tropical Plant International Expo in 2022. It grows up to six inches tall with large and uniquely colored foliage.

Geogenanthus Ciliatus Care Guide

Geo plant, Geogenanthus ciliatus
Geogenanthus ciliatus
Commelinaceae (dayflower or spiderwort family)
6 inches tall
Rhizomatous, flowering houseplant
Slow grower
Central and South America
10a to 12
Bright indirect light (Full to partial shade)
Well draining soil (African violet potting mix)
50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Regular watering to keep the wet soil
Above 70 percent
Rhizome division, stem cuttings
Non-toxic to humans and pets
Common name
Botanical name
Mature plant
Plant type
Growth rate
Growth habit
Native region
USDA hardiness zone
Where to buy
Image of flowers
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How to Care for Geogenanthus Ciliatus

Geoganthus Ciliatus is known for its glossy dark purple or green foliage
Image Source:Photo by ShutterstockGeoganthus Ciliatus is known for its glossy dark purple or green foliage
Geogenanthus ciliatus plant is a rare tropical plant that performs best in a highly humid environments with bright indirect sunlight. Therefore, this rare plant thrives best as an indoor houseplant on table counters with medium light exposure or in a terrarium which tend to offer high humidity climates.
Below, we’ll cover in-depth plant care guidance for Geogenanthus ciliatus - whether as a houseplant or within a terrarium.

💧 Water

Geogenanthus ciliatus plant needs consistently moist soil like peace lily but does not like to sit in overly wet growth medium. So a watering schedule of 2 to 3 times a week is ideal for this water-loving plant especially during its growing season. 
During warmer days, water the geo plant 3 to 4 times per week while letting the excess water drain all the way through. This foliage plant likes to be overwatered rather than underwatered because of its origins in rainforests (soil remains damp all year).
One indication that your plant is thirsty is if your Geogenanthus ciliatus is wilting. This means it’ll need more frequent water applications. Although the plant foliage will appear wilted and droopy when inadequately treated, it’ll be back up and perky right after you water it!
How often should I water my Geogenanthus Ciliatus?
The watering needs of Geogenanthus ciliatus depend upon lighting conditions and humidity levels in the environment. The easiest way to check soil moisture contents is to stick a finger into the potting soil up to 2 inches, and when the ground feels dry, it's time for watering (once or twice a week). Make sure to keep the soil wetter (not on the drier side for glossy foliage). Water this rare plant less frequently in humid environments or shady gardens to avoid root rot and fungal infections.

☀️ Sunlight

Geogenanthus ciliatus prefers partial or indirect sunlight whether you grow it outdoors or as an indoor plant. 
It can not tolerate direct sunlight because the too-intense light can scorch its foliage or wash off its signature foliage color.
When growing this plant indoors as a houseplant, the ideal location is an east or west-facing window to provide the plant with mixed sunlight and dappled shade conditions. When placed near an east-facing window, the plant will receive morning sunlight for a couple of hours with shade throughout the rest of the day. When grown near west-facing window, it’ll receive morning shade and afternoon sun.
On the other hand, when grown outdoors as a container plant, situate your geo plant under the canopy of large trees to provide shade throughout the day. Adequate light will assist it in developing its signature foliage color, while shade will provide it with some respite form direct sun rays.
You can also use artificial grow lights (inflorescent bulbs) to create a perfect environment for your geo plant in low-light conditions. 
If using a grow light, make sure to place the container of the geo plant directly under artificial light while keeping a distance of 20 inches.

🌡️ Temperature and Humidity

Being an understory plant in tropical rainforests, Geogenanthus ciliatus flourishes as an indoor houseplant when grown in warm temperatures with extremely high humidity levels. 
The ideal temperature range for this tropical plant is between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the temperatures drop below 50 °F to prevent stunted growth.
Also, keep the containers away from cold air windows and warm vents to avoid foliage damage. 
As an outdoor plant, it thrives best in warm climates of the USDA growing zone 10b to 12 all year round. However, cover the plants with wraps at night when the temperature drops below  50 °F because prolonged exposure will impact plant growth.
This rare tropical plant also requires high-humidity climates. Specifically, a humidity level of 60 to 90% during the day and 70 to 90% at night is ideal for healthy growth. To maintain ideal humidity levels, situate your plant in the bathroom or grow it in a terrarium. Alternative options include regular misting, a pebble tray filled with water, or a humidifier.

🌱 Best Soil for Geogenanthus Ciliatus

This tropical plant thrives in moist and well-draining soil, particularly with water retention properties. The ideal potting soil mix for the Geogenanthus ciliatus would be a blend of  75% houseplant potting soil with 25% orchid bark, sphagnum moss or coco coir, and perlite. 
This mixture will provide good aeration (perlite, orchid bark) and retain the water (peat moss, coco coir) to hydrate fleshy roots while encouraging healthy growth.
If you happen to have African violet soil mix, you can also use this for your geo plant. African violet soil mix has a great combination of moisture-retentive amendments like moss, coco coir and airy amendments like perlite and bark.

🌻 Fertilizer

Geogenanthus ciliatus needs moderate fertilizer applications during the active growing season (spring and summer). Feed the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer of a 10-10-10 ratio. 
Be sure to dilute the fertilizers to half their strength to avoid chemical toxicity and root burn.

☢️ Toxicity

Geogenanthus ciliatus is non-toxic to humans and pets. Hence, it can be grown and maintained in homes around curious kids and pets.
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How to Propagate Geogenanthus Ciliatus By Rhizome Division

Beautiful Geogenanthus Ciliatus foliage in the garden
Image Source:Photo by Wikimedia CommonsBeautiful Geogenanthus Ciliatus foliage in the garden
Geogenanthus ciliatus plant can easily be propagated through stem cuttings and rhizome division. The best time for Geo plant propagation is spring, when the plant is actively growing and has enough time to establish a new and healthy root system.
To propagate through the rhizomes division, here’s a complete process;
  • Step 1: Take the mature Geogenanthus ciliatus plant from its planter without damaging its tuberous root system and gorgeous foliage.
  • Step 2:  Wash off the excess potting soil around the fleshy tubers with water and inspect the roots and rhizomes. These rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally at the ground level while putting out lateral shoots.
  • Step 3: Take a sharp, sterilized shear to divide or separate the rhizome from the parent plant. Make sure each division has two to three young shoots with foliage to develop into a new plant.
  • Step 4: Plant rhizome individually into a six-inch pot filled with a well-draining potting mix. Water the newly divided plant lightly and situate the container in a warm, bright location. Make sure to keep the soil moist, not wet, for a week.

How to Propagate Geogenanthus Ciliatus From Stem Cuttings

A young Geo Plant propagated in a pot
Image Source:Photo by Wikimedia CommonsA young Geo Plant propagated in a pot
Another easy Geo plantpropagation method is through stem cuttings. This method has one advantage over rhizome division: it does not require unpotting the plant from its container.
Here’s a complete guide on propagating the rare foliage plant through stem cuttings;
  • Step 1: Choose a healthy stem section 3 to 4 inches long with two young leaves and nodes. These young leaves will process the food for a new plant while the nodes or growing points put out roots.
  • Step 2: Separate the selected stem section with a sharp, sterilized shear tool by cutting right below the node. 
  • Step 3: Let the cutting dry for several hours. After drying, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone solution for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Step 4: Fill half of your pot with African violet potting mix or custom, well-draining potting mix. Insert the stem cutting vertically into the potting mix so that one node remains outside the soil and the other inside the mix.
  • Step 5: Water the plant to keep the soil moist and maintain temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius with high humidity levels and good air circulation.
  • Step 6: Under proper growing conditions, the stem cutting will develop roots within two weeks.

How to Repot Geogenanthus Ciliatus

Geogenanthus ciliatus is a slow-growing plant with a tuberous root system that needs repotting once every two to three years. The ideal timing to repot Geogenanthus ciliatus is in spring or during propagation. Repotting will help the plant with healthy growth by supplying the fresh potting mix and removing any old and rotten roots. 
Select a ceramic planter that’s 2 inches longer in diameter than your old container. You’ll want to select a pot with at least one drainage hole to ensure proper aeration when you’re watering your Geo plant. 
Fill it with African violet potting mix or your custom, well-draining potting mix. We recommend amending with organic matter like compost which will help provide a slow release of nutrients.
Place your plant in its new container, and follow proper care instructions laid out in this guide.

Common Geogenanthus Ciliatus Disease

Geogenanthus Ciliatus is considered a rare plant
Image Source:Photo by Wikimedia CommonsGeogenanthus Ciliatus is considered a rare plant
Geogenanthus ciliatus is a gorgeous foliage plant grown as an indoor decorative plant. It thrives in a humid environment (such as terrariums) while adding purple-black and deep green colors to interior designs. 
This rare plant is not prone to common houseplant pest infestations, in particular to spider mites, because it flourishes in high humidity. Humid environments create an unsuitable environment for mites to grow within.
However, due to temperature fluctuations, saturated soils, and improper humidity levels, this plant can succumb to root rot, foliage browning, and yellowing. The ideal way to keep your geo plant happy and thriving is to maintain a highly humid environment, a proper watering schedule, and stable temperatures.

Root Rot

If this is your first time experiencing root rot, read our complete guide on root rot.
Root rot is a common issue with most houseplants, including Geogenanthus ciliatus. It’s usually caused by moist or waterlogged soil for prolonged periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten brown base. If you see these symptoms, here’s how to treat root rot.
  • Remove the plant from the pot and gently remove the soil so you can see the root system.
  • If the roots are brown and mushy, you must take action immediately.
  • Clean off the roots with sterile water.
  • Take sterilized scissors and trim any mushy roots.
  • You can use a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the roots.
Once cleaned up, repot your plant in a fresh houseplant soil mix.
Why are my Geogenanthus ciliatus leaves turning brown?
Overwatering and poor soil drainage is the leading cause of the foliage browning of Geogenanthus ciliatus plants. Such overly wet soil conditions damage the underground fleshy roots while turning the aboveground leaves brown and mushy.
Why is my Geogenanthus ciliatus drooping?
Geogenanthus ciliatus is a thirsty plant and appreciates regular watering (2 to 3 times a week), like peace lilies. When underwatered, the geo plant will curl and start drooping. It’ll appear wilted, so the best way to revive it is to keep it well hydrated and the soil consistently moist.

📚 Geogenanthus Ciliatus Care Tips

Geogenanthus ciliatus is a beautiful plant to add to an indoor tropical garden. It brings beauty and unique colors to indoor spaces in the long run when grown and maintained correctly. To enhance its life, follow these Geogenanthus ciliatus care tips;
  1. Maintain the temperature ranges between 55-77°F for the best foliage growth. Avoid exposure to cold temperatures for too long, which can stunt its growth.
  2. Keep the potting soil moist to hydrate the roots and assist the plant in healthy growth.
  3. This is an understory plant in its native regions (South American rainforests), which performs best in medium indirect light as a houseplant.
  4. Maintain high humidity levels up to 90 percent throughout the day for healthy foliage growth.
  5. Water this tropical plant wisely. The best approach to check soil moisture content is by sticking a finger into the 2 to 3 inches of the soil surface. If it feels dry to the touch, then water your plant.

Where to Buy Geogenanthus ciliatus

Geogenanthus ciliatus is a shining star of tropical houseplants with uniquely colored foliage (a must-have plant). This rare plant is easy to care for and of high decorative value when grown in a terrarium to provide it with high humidity. Moreover, you can grow and have this low-maintenance plant for a longer time by growing it in moist soil, low to medium light, warm temperatures, and high humidity. 
So add this unique plant to your indoor tropical garden with other low-light plants (Philodendrons, Calatheas, Maidenhair fern, and Alocasia baginda). The good news is you can get this rare tropical plant from Neverland with expert care guidance.
You can also visit our blog to get assistance with growing cacti, tropical houseplants, spring flowering perennials, and vegetables.

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