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Geogenanthus Ciliatus (aka the Geo Plant) Care Guide

Geogenanthus Ciliatus care and propagation isn’t that different from its close relative the tradescantia zebrina (aka the inch plant). It’s just a lot harder to find. Learn about this cool almost-black plant in my post!

Geogenanthus Ciliatus care & propagation

Today it’s all about this mouthful of a plant: Geogenanthus Ciliatus. But you can just refer to it as “the geo plant.” When you hear “geo plant,” you might think it has hard, geometric edges. But that’s quite the opposite.

The Geogenanthus Ciliatus is highly sought after for it’s unique, luxe leaves. They grow bright green with a thick purple stripe, and as they mature the leaves become bathed in a dark, glossy purple. Nearly black.

It makes for lovely ground cover if your climate is right, but ideally should be kept as a terrarium or potted plant because of its tricky requirements. 

Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant in a white pot

Is Geogenanthus Ciliatus rare?

But don’t get too excited. As of writing this post in December 2021, this plant is almost as hard to find as it is to pronounce! The geo plant is not readily available in every plant shop like some easier to find plants (such as its relative the tradescantia zebrina, or inch plant).

I didn’t want to order mine online since it’s quite cold where I live right now. I called around until someone in my state’s plant Facebook group suggested a nursery one state over. They had just gotten a few in the night before! So I contacted them and, alas, they had already all been sold.

I finally got lucky and grabbed the last one at another nursery for $39.99. (This was way more expensive than the $25 price tag at the nursery that sold out…but I had to have it!)

And believe it or not, geo plants are popping up occasionally in Home Depots, Lowe’s, Walmarts, and the like. That’s because they will be included in the Costa Farms Trending Tropicals 2022 collection. And since Costa Farms is like, the biggest supplier of all of the big box nurseries, I’d expect that we’ll start seeing it pop up more and more in 2022!

I have even seen reports of people finding it in Walmarts. If I found it in Walmart, I think I’d have to buy another. They are just so gorgeous.

geo plant leaf

Where is Geogenanthus Ciliatus from?

Geogenanthus Ciliatus is native to the rainforest floors of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. Plants that grow on the floors of rainforests are accustomed to shade, warm temperatures, and a mesic environment, aka a ton of humidity and rain.

The genus Geogenanthus only has three species: Ciliatus, Poeppigii, and Rhizanthus, all of which have amazing leaves. The Geogenanthus Ciliatus got its accepted name officially in 1931, so fairly recently!

Only the Ciliatus and Poeppigii are used as houseplants and are ideal for terrariums. They are categorized for their tuberous roots, branching rhizomes, and fragrance-free flowers. Overall, Geogenanthus Ciliatus is a fairly new addition to the houseplant lineup, at least in the U.S.

Geogenanthus Ciliatus plants at a nursery
Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant in a white pot on a table with other plants

Geo plant light needs

These gorgeous leaves can be damaged by the harshness of direct sunlight, so protect your geo plant under shade or away from windows with too much direct light. As a matter of fact, artificial lights work perfect for these guys since they enjoy lower light.

Keeping them in a terrarium with florescent bulbs will give you the ultimate control over how much light they receive. You can also choose something like an Ikea greenhouse cabinet to help with light. I currently have mine in a south-facing bathroom window, but it’s winter. I’ll have to move it in the summer when the sun is too harsh.

Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant in a white pot
A peek at the purple stems!

Soil & water needs

A generic indoor or houseplant soil mix is suitable for growing a Geogenanthus Ciliatus. All you really need to make sure of is that it drains well. For that you can mix in one part perlite or orchid bark to three parts potting mix.

You want the soil to retain just enough water that it nourishes the plant without drowning it. It does prefer soil that is slightly acidic, so just below pH 7 if you’re keeping track. (Which I don’t, lol.) Well-draining soil is a really important part of watering, too.

Staying consistent with watering is crucial to growing a healthy Geo plant. It requires lots of watering and should never be allowed to dry out completely. Remember, these beauties come from the rainforest where it’s always damp!

Since lighting, temperature, and humidity conditions affect how quickly the soil dries out, your best bet is to always monitor the soil moisture. Water the soil thoroughly after the top two inches have dried out, which should be once or twice a week. In a very humid, shady environment, it should not require watering as frequently.

Want more plants with gorgeous dark foliage? Check out my raven ZZ care and propagation post, as well as my tips on how to root scindapsus treubii dark form!

beautiful Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant

Temperature & humidity needs

Like we covered, the Geogenanthus prefers a warmer climate, so it will not survive anything lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant lovers use hardiness zones to gauge how well plants will withstand the climate outside. (At least in the U.S., we do—they are U.S. Department of Agriculture growing zones.)

The Geogenanthus Ciliatus can tolerate anything between Zone 11 and 12, so places that are warm year round like Hawaii. The ideal temperature range is between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be maintained easily in a terrarium or indoors as a houseplant.

Geogenanthus plants absolutely thrive on humidity, we’re talking almost 90%. It would be difficult to try and maintain this in your home and have it be in tip-top condition, so this is another reason why they’re best kept in terrariums.

Misting frequently is a good idea, especially in the morning so it keeps its surroundings wet. You can also keep it in a cabinet or bathroom for help with humidity. Putting it right by a humidifier is helpful, too.

I’ll plant to move mine out to my covered patio for the spring and summer to soak up all of our CRAZY humidity we get in the summer! I am really interested to see how it does, because my other humidity-loving plants explode when they summer outdoors.

Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant in a white pot

How to propagate Geogenanthus Ciliatus

Using stem cuttings is the best way to propagate a Geogenanthus Ciliatus. This should be done in the spring right around the growing season. Pick a stem that is healthy and has at least one or two leaves.

Cut the stem right beneath the leaf and allow it to dry out on a paper towel for a day or so. Dip the node in rooting hormone then plant it in a small pot with fresh soil. It should be placed straight up lightly packed in with soil, you may use a stick of some sort to keep it growing upright. Ensure the soil stays moist and the temperature is very warm.

You can also try propagating this plant in a jar of water, in damp sphagnum moss and perlite, or using LECA (learn more about LECA propagation). It’s a pretty easy plant to root; it reminds me a lot of the “purple queen” tradescantia variety in terms of its stem shape and growth patterns.

Rhizome division is another way of propagating since the Geo plant’s roots allow you to separate the parent into sections and replant as several different ones. This method is a little more difficult if the plant isn’t fully established and mature. 

small geo plant propagation
Geogenanthus Ciliatus plant foliage
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Here is a link to the Dropbox folder with the guide!

teaser image of the cover of the houseplant care guide

Is Geogenanthus Ciliatus safe to have around pets?

I haven’t found anything definitive on this. I usually go by the ASPCA, but they don’t have anything. Although I have seen other info about the Geo plant saying that it is not toxic to pets and kids, I always recommend that you keep non-toxic plants that are still not meant to be eaten away from nibblers!

For more gorgeous trending plants, check out my Scindapsus Treubii Moonlight Care guide, my Rhaphidophora Hayi Care guide, and my Philodendron Birkin Care guide!

geo plant leaf

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