Ktenant's flower: care and cultivation at home

Nothing decorates a home interior like exotic indoor plants with an unusual appearance. A compact, but very bright ctenant is the best suited for this purpose, however, in order for this flower to look healthy and magnificent, it needs to create very specific conditions. Which ones are described in this review.

Botanical description of the plant

Ktenanta is a very popular indoor plant, valued primarily for the unusual coloring of the leaves, not without reason it is often called a comb flower or crocodile leaf. The homeland of this unusual evergreen perennial belonging to the Marantovian family is the hot tropics of sunny Brazil, but the plant is also found in some regions of Central America, in particular in Mexico and Costa Rica.

Did you know? Brazil is rightfully considered one of the richest countries in terms of flora and fauna. Its flora and fauna are represented by approximately 4 million species, and some of them are not found anywhere else. The botanical characteristics of the ctenants are shown in the table:

Maximum sizesUp to 2 m
Root systemRigid, highly branching, fibrous
StemGrassy type, thin
Leaf shapeAsymmetrical, not carved, in the form of an elongated oval with an expanded lower part, are assembled in dense tiers, very close to each other so that they look like beams
Leaf size20–40 cm
Leaf colorGreen in various shades with decorative stripes, streaks or interspersed from the center to the edges
Leaf structureSoft
FlowersBisexual, small, devoid of decorativeness, covered with dense bracts
Fruit typeBox
The taste of fruitFruits are not edible

Popular views

The genus of Ktenant has about a dozen varieties, but the most decorative and popular among them are:

  1. Ctenanthe compressed (Ctenanthe compressa). A small compact plant with huge glossy leaves of saturated green color, pointed at the ends. In length, with good care, the plate can reach 40 cm, in width - 12 cm. There is a small pubescent area at the bottom of the sheet.

  2. Ctenanta Oppenheim, or Giant Bamburant (Ctenanthe oppenheimiana). One of the highest flower species, can grow up to a meter in height, but the leaves are small, only 15–18 cm. A distinctive feature of the species is the velor structure of the leaf on the front side and the bright red color on the back. The characteristic pattern is beige and silver wide stripes from the center of the sheet to the periphery.

  3. Ctenanthe Burle-Marx or Burle Maxi (Ctenanthe burle-marxii). One of the lowest species, even in nature, does not extend above 40 cm, and at home it has a height of 20–40 cm. It differs in particularly lush, angular-shaped foliage with a pointed tip. The color is grayish green with darker stripes. The reverse side is red. Flowers bloom in the upper part of the plant, have a delicate beige color and small size.

  4. Ctenanthe Lubbers (Ctenanthe lubbersiana). Under natural conditions, it can reach a height of 150 cm, but a house usually grows to about half this size. A sheet plate with yellowish transverse feather-like spots always has a very bright emerald background color, which does not lose its saturation even in low light conditions.

  5. Ctenantha bristly, pubescent, or Setosa (Ctenanthe setosa). It can grow up to a meter in height. The color of the leaves is silver at the base and dark green in the upper part. The reverse side of the plate is red. It has a very fast growth.

Among the hybrid forms of the comb flower, it is worth mentioning:

  • Golden Mosaic, which is characterized by oblique lines and blotches of ivory on a sheet plate;

  • Variegata (Variegata) with yellow stripes of three shades extending from the central vein of the leaf to the edges;
  • Tricolor (Tricolor), which has small, up to 50 cm, sizes and pinkish-yellow spots on the leaves. Valued for reduced air humidity requirements;

  • Obsuru (Obscura) with erratic dark green spots and a rim on a lighter background;

  • Amagris (Amagris), which has an unusual silver-colored leaves with light green stripes.


As a true inhabitant of the tropics, the comb flower makes very high demands on temperature, lighting and humidity. Without observing these conditions, the plant can easily be lost, so you need to worry about them in advance.


Choosing a place for a crocodile leaf, you need to take into account the characteristics of the growth of this flower in nature. There the pretender prefers to hide in the shade of tall trees, while constantly being in a very humid and warm environment characteristic of the tropics. Thus, under indoor conditions, the flower will be equally uncomfortable with both the southern and northern windows: in the first case, the too bright sun and dry air play a negative role, in the second, on the contrary, the lack of light and heat. From this point of view, it is optimal to place the pot near the eastern or western windows. In the absence of such an opportunity, from the south side the flower will need to be removed away from the window, from the north - additional illumination.

Important! You can not put a ctenant next to heating appliances, since they very much dry the air, and this factor is harmful to a tropical plant. It is also important to protect the flower from drafts, although ventilation will not hinder it at all.


In the summer, for the crocodile leaf, direct sunlight is most dangerous. In general, the plant is shade-loving, so it feels quite comfortable in partial shade. However, in winter, when the number of clear days in the middle lane sharply decreases, the flower begins to lack light and heat. Based on these rules, lighting should be correctly varied depending on the season. The condition of decorative leaves will tell how correctly this condition is fulfilled: their size decreases, and the brightness of the color is lost in cases of excess light, with insufficient lighting, the sheet plate becomes lethargic.


The comb flower is not as demanding on temperature conditions as it is on other climatic conditions, however, it is very important for the plant that these parameters be constant: the flower does not like sudden temperature changes, including day and night.

The crocodile leaf feels best when the temperature of the soil is in the range + 18 ... + 22 ºC, air - + 22 ... + 25 ºC. It is advisable not to allow the room to cool below +18 ° C, a critical indicator at which the plant can no longer develop normally is cooling to +16 ° C.

Air humidity

At home, the hardest thing is to provide the ctenant with sufficient humidity. The plant needs an indicator of at least 70%, better - up to 90%, which is practically impossible to achieve in residential premises.

Did you know? In the evening, the leaves of the ctenantas gather at the base, and with the first rays of the sun they blossom again: in this way, a rustle is created from them, and it seems that they seem to come to life. You can solve the problem with regular spraying of the plant. However, since it is not always possible to do this several times a day, it is better to moisten the air by placing a container filled with sphagnum or other water-absorbing material near the flowerpot and constantly adding fresh water to it. This method is also preferred because drops that fall on large leaves during daylight hours are reflected in sunlight and cause burns, which causes the appearance of dry brown spots on the leaf plate.

Some gardeners place the ctenant in decorative florariums, aquariums or terrariums, where it is much easier to create a plant suitable for it microclimate.

Proper care

In addition to providing the flower with the necessary level of humidity and temperature, caring for a crocodile leaf requires proper watering, regular feeding, transplanting and some other specific activities.


A ctenanta, like any other tropical plant, needs regular and plentiful watering, and it is very important to ensure that the soil in the pot is completely moistened, and not just its top layer.

Important! The frequency of watering depends on the air temperature: the colder the room, the less watering should be done. For watering, it is best to use soft and purified water. Tap water is too hard, so it must first be allowed to stand as long as possible. Before watering the plant, the water should be heated to a temperature a couple of degrees higher than the temperature in the room. Such precaution will avoid the development of root rot. For the same reason, stagnation of water in the roots must not be allowed; for this purpose, the pot must include drainage holes, and the water flowing into the sump must be poured out.

It is best to water the crocodile leaf in the upper way, while the water does not pour under the root, but over the entire area of ​​the pot. The lower watering is less suitable for the plant, since it does not provide the complete wetting of the entire soil lump and at the same time draws useful trace elements from the lower soil layer.

Fertilizer application

The comb flower does not show special requirements for dressing. In order to prevent soil depletion, it is enough during the active vegetation period (from mid-February to the end of October) to apply the complex mineral and organic fertilizers diluted according to the instructions sold in flower shops and intended for decorative and deciduous plants twice a month right after watering . Some experts even recommend halving the prescribed dose, as crocodile leaf reacts very poorly to excess mineral additives. In winter, when plant growth slows down, the frequency of top dressing is reduced to once a month or a half.

Learn how to feed indoor plants at home.

It should also be borne in mind that diseased or recently transplanted flowers should not be fertilized, this procedure is an additional stress that can weaken a weakened plant.


Low-growing varieties of comb flower (Ctenanthe burle-marxii or Ctenanthe compressa) do not need support, however, for higher plants, such support is necessary, otherwise the bush will lose its compactness and decorativeness.

There is no need to build a solid structure for these purposes, since crocodile sheets are not rigid and heavy.

The plant should simply be held in a vertical plane, for this it must be limited in the ability to tilt the branches in different directions.

Various flower supports are sold in flower shops in the assortment, but you can simply install several wooden, bamboo or plastic strips of suitable length in a pot around a circle and tie them with a thread or a rope, leaving the plant inside an impromptu frame.


As a mandatory procedure, pruning is not necessary. It does not form a decorative crown and does not have a pronounced period of rest, when excessive green mass can interfere with it. If any of the leaves has lost its decorative effect (yellowed, dried, covered with sunspots, twisted into a tube), it must be carefully removed, not forgetting to analyze the causes of the problem and correct the situation. For reasons of aesthetics, it is also necessary to remove dried inflorescences after the plant has flowered.


The young ctenant is transplanted regularly, once a year, and the already formed one is 2-3 times less likely, with the annual addition of fresh soil mixture to the pot. The best time for these purposes is the period of the beginning or end of the growing season (February or October), although some recommend replanting the flower in late spring or summer.

The comb flower prefers light, loose soils rich in humus. Acidity is neutral or slightly acidic (the optimum pH level is within six).

Important! It’s unlikely that it will be possible to find a special soil mixture for sale, so when buying finished land you should focus on the substrate for azaleas. You can independently prepare a suitable composition by mixing:

  • sheet earth - 2 parts;
  • peat - 1 part;
  • coarse river sand - 1 part;
  • charcoal - 0.25 parts;
  • moss sphagnum - 0.25 parts.
You should not take too much capacity, in it the plant with a high probability will begin to rot or delay growth for a long time. It is best to increase the volume of the pot by no more than 3 cm in diameter.

Read more about caring for other decorative and deciduous indoor plants:

Before embarking on a transplant, a thick layer of drainage material must be poured into the prepared pot, then covered with a fresh substrate on top. It is advisable to carry out the transplantation by transshipment: remove the plant with an earthen lump, without exposing the roots, place it on the surface of a thin layer of earth in a new pot and then add the required amount of soil mixture on the sides and top. After filling the flowerpot, you need to compact the ground well and, if necessary, add a little more soil on top of the sagging soil.

Video: Features of the Care of the Ctenant


A ktenant at home reproduces vegetatively. For this, two possible methods are used - rhizome division and rooting of cuttings.

Did you know? Some plants show a truly amazing trick in trying to survive, while capturing new territories. For example, the cycloid stork is named after the stork’s beak-like shape of the seeds, which, as they ripen, twist into spirals, and then, released into the wild by a gust of wind and the spring mechanism of an adult plant, find a “landing site” and are screwed into the soil, as it were, like a corkscrew.

Dividing the bush

This method is the simplest, but requires great accuracy. Its meaning is to cut the rhizome into 2-3 parts during transplantation, and then divide the whole bush along the cut line: each fragment should consist of an independent root and the corresponding size of the aerial part. The cut line on the root for disinfection can be sprinkled with wood ash. Then each new plant is planted in a pot according to the standard technology used in transplantation (in this case, a larger tank is not necessary, since the plant becomes smaller). For better rooting, a little more peat can be added to the soil mixture.

Freshly transplanted plants are watered with warm water and covered with a plastic bag to create an artificial greenhouse. The package is periodically removed for ventilation, and after young shoots appear on the flower, they are completely removed.


Cuttings of cuttings are best carried out in late spring or early summer, when the day is already long enough, but still far from the heat. Young shoots are used for rooting. The procedure is as follows:

  1. From the top you need to cut a fragment from 7 to 10 cm long, it should have 2-3 healthy leaves.
  2. Cuttings need to be placed in water for rooting. This process takes quite a lot of time, sometimes up to one and a half months, therefore, given the increased requirements of the plant for air humidity, it is best to place the container with cuttings in a glass jar or cover it with a film.
  3. After the appearance of the roots, the cuttings are planted in a peat substrate and placed in a warm, moist and slightly shaded place.
  4. When young plants form a few fresh leaves, they can be planted in individual pots in a permanent place.

Growing difficulties

Violation of the requirements for the care of the plant can lead to various diseases. Usually, by the appearance of decorative leaves and other characteristic features, it is easy to determine what exactly the comb flower is lacking.


When growing plants, you may encounter such problems:

  1. Shriveled and dropped leaves. A clear signal that the air in the room is too dry. The problem is eliminated by moisturizing.
  2. Darkening of the tips of the leaves also indicates a reduced humidity.
  3. Lethargy and decay of the leaf plate. Usually occurs when the air temperature is unacceptably low. The pot needs to be placed in a warmer place.
  4. Light spots on the sheet. So the plant reacts to direct sunlight, especially if it was sprayed with water. The flower must be shaded.
  5. Dark spots on the leaf plate. The reason is the stagnation of water in the soil. This is especially true for the period when the room temperature drops. It is necessary to adjust watering and, if necessary, transplant the flower, providing for reliable drainage in the new pot.
  6. Asymmetric growth, a characteristic bias towards the window. Occurs when sunlight is not enough for a flower. You should move the pot to a more suitable place or arrange artificial illumination for the plant.
  7. The appearance of a “black leg” on the stem, brown spots on the green parts, the presence of mold on the surface of the earthen coma, sometimes the presence of an unpleasant smell of decay coming from the soil. Indicates the development of root rot - a dangerous fungal infection. If you start the disease, the plant will die, and it will need to be thrown out along with the land in which it grew. Radical treatment is required: the bush is trimmed so that only perfectly healthy shoots remain on it. Slices are disinfected (you can use wood ash, activated carbon or ground chalk). Растение извлекается из горшка, корни освобождаются от земли и промываются в растворе фунгицида типа «Топаз», «Абига-Пик», «Превикур», «Алирин-Б», «Байкал-ЭМ» или «Скор», после чего в этом же растворе вымачиваются 30 минут. Затем цветок пересаживается в новый горшок с полностью свежей землёй (прежний субстрат повторно использовать нельзя). В течение последующих нескольких месяцев в воду для полива следует добавлять фунгицид для профилактики.


Из вредителей для ктенанты опасность представляют:

  • aphid;
  • scale shield;
  • mealybug;
  • spider mite;
  • whitefly.
Каждый из этих паразитов оставляет характерные только для него следы, а некоторых (например, тлю или щитовку) даже можно увидеть невооружённым глазом. Однако в целом отличить атаку вредителя от проблем, связанных с неправильным микроклиматом, довольно легко: на листьях или стеблях растения появляются посторонние образования (липкие потёки, выпуклые бляшки, похожие на паутинки нити).

Did you know? «Молящийся цветок» — ещё одно народное название ктенанты — к религии и суевериям отношения не имеет. Перед закатом солнца растение поднимает свои декоративные листья вверх, как будто для молитвы, хотя в действительности просто ловя последние ласковые лучи (есть версия, что такая «молитва» растения свидетельствует о приближающемся дожде).

Независимо от того, какой именно паразит вызвал подобное явление, эффективным методом лечения является обработка зелёных частей цветка водой с добавлением мыла, спирта, давленого чеснока или лукового сока. В случае сильного поражения цветок нужно опрыскать специальным препаратом, во избежание ошибки, лучше использовать средства универсального действия — как против насекомых, так и против клещей. Среди наиболее известных препаратов, подходящих для этих целей, можно назвать, например, «Акарин», «Актеллик», «Актофит», «Аполло», «Вермитек», «Фитоверм» или «Фуфанон».

Мифы о ктенанте

Народная молва описывает ктенанту в основном как благоприятное для выращивания дома растение, хотя о ней часто говорят как о цветке с не вполне однозначной энергетикой. И всё же в целом чаще всего гребенчатому цветку приписывают магическую силу защищать дом от злых сил, укреплять взаимную любовь между супругами, успокаивать, снимать стресс, улучшать сон и даже лечить от затяжных болезней.

Специалисты по растениям уверены, что ктенанту можно без опасения ставить как в детскую комнату, так и в супружескую спальню, а также в помещение, где живёт пожилой человек. От такого соседства состояние и настроение домочадцев только улучшится.

Крокодилов лист — растение очень нарядное, но, к сожалению, к неприхотливым его отнести сложно. Уход за таким комнатным цветком предполагает создание условий, не совсем совместимых с жилым помещением (главным образом это касается влажности воздуха), однако помещённая в декоративный флорариум Ктенанта станет настоящим украшением жилища, наполнив его уютом и позитивной энергетикой.

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