Ctenanthe Setosa (AKA Calathea Setosa): Ultimate Care Guide

Common Name(s) Grey Star, Never Never Plant
Scientific Name Ctenanthe Setosa
Sun Exposure Indirect, bright light
Soil pH 6.7-7.1
Watering Requirement Water weekly, or once soil is dry. Keep moist, not wet.
Hardiness Zone 10-11
Fertilize Half diluted, every growing cycle or annually

The Marantaceae family of plants has a wide variety of plants that look very similar, with minor variations. They also sire many other genus names, like Afrocalathea, Calathea, Cominsia, Ctenanthe, and Donax, just to name a few out of that long list. If you go online, you’ll be overwhelmed with hundreds of articles with polarizing methods for care. So, in this article we’ll discuss what Grey Star actually is, and how to care for it specifically.

What is Ctenanthe Setosa?

Ctenanthe Setosa, also known as Grey Star, is a gorgeous species of striped leaf plant most well-known for its beautiful, dynamic leaf patterns, and marron underbelly. Most people garner this plant for their homes, due to its lovely foliage. If you’re an intermediate to advanced plant enthusiast, you’ll love this new addition to your home.

Grey star is a type of Never Never plant that originates from Brazil. Ctenanthe is also considered a prayer plant, because the leaves open and close as if in prayer (this behavior is in response to light). It’s not the easiest plant to grow from its younger stages, but once fully matured, Grey Star makes a hardy house plant. If you’re not too confident with your ability to grow, it is recommended that you buy from a local plant nursery or store.  Buying from a plant nursery is also a great way to ensure that you’re grabbing the right plant. In its early stages of plant life, Grey Star heavily resembles other plants from both the Ctenanthe and the Calathea families.

Ctenanthe Setosa
Ctenanthe Setosa

What is Difference Between Ctenanthe and Calathea

The Ctenanthe and Calathea families exhibit very similar qualities, so it’s hard to distinguish the exact genus without seeing the blooms, which, if kept indoors, these plants don’t often bloom and are kept around for foliage. Calathea Grey Star officially belongs to the genus Ctenanthe; The term “Calathea” is added onto the front, because of Grey Star’s apparent relation to that family. Calatheas are typically pickier about their environments, temperatures, and humidity levels, which is what makes Grey Star a bit more challenging to grow.

How to care for Ctenanthe Setosa

If cared for properly, Ctenanthe Setosa can grow anywhere from 4-18 inches tall! So, how can they flourish?

For starters, just like a building needs a good foundation, plants need good soil. Ctenanthe Setosa needs well drained, moist soil. Be extremely careful of moist soil turning into soggy soil. Grey Star absolutely hates getting too waterlogged. In addition to mixing some small pebbles or sand into its growing soil, making sure the plant is in a good pot will help as well. The best kind of pots for Grey Star will be pots with holes on the bottom, or terracotta pots, which are wonderful for wicking away extra moisture and preventing root rot. As for the soil pH, make sure it is neutral, between 6.1 and 7.1.

Next, you want to set your Ctenanthe Setosa up for success, by putting it in a good spot. A good spot for Ctenanthe Setosa is a spot that gets medium, indirect sunlight, but is still warm and humid. This is often one of the more challenging aspects of growing Grey Star. Too much direct sunlight will cause the leaves to fade or even burn. Make sure your Grey Star has a bright, but shady place to stay, while also ensuring a high humidity level. If your home isn’t very humid, a humidifier may be able to assist in the process. Grey Star likes temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now to ensure your plant gets enough water. Most sources suggest keeping the plant moist but drained. To ensure this happens, adult plants should be watered every 1-2 weeks. Ensure that the soil dries out between each watering. Also, be sure to water your Grey Star with room temperature water. Water that is excessively cold or hot will alter the soil temperature and make your plant unhappy. If you’re also looking to feed your plant, fertilizing it with diluted, half strength fertilizer during its growing cycle can prove beneficial to its health.

Note: thus far we’ve assumed your Ctenanthe Setosa is a houseplant. Ctenanthe Setosa, while susceptible to many plant ailments, can be grown as a garden plant in plant zones 10-11, as long as enough shade is provided.

If consumed, Ctenanthe Setosa is considered slightly poisonous, however, it is listed as a non-toxic plant. Make sure any small children and pets are safe by putting the plant out of reach if you fear one of them may get a little too curious and chew on a leaf.

Ctenanthe Setosa Plant
Ctenanthe Setosa Plant

Common Problems Growing Ctenanthe Setosa

Pay attention to your plant. If Ctenanthe Setosa is unhappy, it will show you in the form of curling, drooping, or yellow leaves. Yellow or drooping leaves on Ctenanthe Setosa are a classic sign of overwatering. Meanwhile, curling leaves might indicate a lack of proper humidity or moisture. Leaves that look faded, are curling, or are turning brown mean that your Grey Star has had too much sun, and needs more shade. Another big thing to look out for is root rot, which occurs when a plant is overwatered for a prolonged period of time with no resolution. While root rot is a hard illness to shake, trimming off the affected roots and then repotting the Grey Star could save the plant.

Some people may experience mold growing in their houseplant, as result of overwatering, poor room ventilation, or inadequate soil drainage. Contrary to popular belief, a small amount of mold or mildew isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, it should be treated, especially in house plants. Remove the mold with a small scoop or sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon over the afflicted area to fix the problem.

Ctenanthe Setosa Propagation

If you’ve had your Ctenanthe Setosa for a while and are looking for some fun, propagating it can be an interesting little experiment, and a great way to save money if it proves successful. One method is to acquire a plant clipping that is around 4-6 inches long from a hardy stem with a couple leaves, and soak the end in water or growing hormone for as long as recommended. Then place the stem in a small pot filled with potting soil that is well drained.


Check on your Ctenanthe Setosa daily, and if it starts to look unhappy, refer to this article or consult Google on how best to fix the issue (be sure to vet sources accordingly).

Ctenanthe Setosa can cost anywhere from $11 to $30 dollars, depending on where you live. For its lovely appearance, it is certainly worth the buy. Make certain you shop around for the best plant, and the best deal. Also, when buying Grey Star, check all the leaves to ensure you’re starting off strong, with a healthy plant.

Lastly, have fun! Plants are wonderful for mental health and can bring life to any space. They also provide an opportunity to learn about the Earth we live on. Caring for a plant is an amazing experience for all ages. If you’ve got children, friends, or just roommates, you can get them in on the fun too!

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