Ctenanthe burle-marxii ‘Amabilis’

Fishbone Prayer Plant, Never-Never Plant

Admired by many for their unique, intricately patterned and colourful foliage, Prayer Plants make for stunning statement plants to add a tropical flair to your home. Ctenanthe, known as the Never Never Plants, are part of the Marantaceae family alongside Calatheas and Marantas.

Ctenanthe burle-marxii ‘Amabilis’ has long, oval grey-green leaves with a stunning deeper green fishbone pattern, and purple undersides.

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Origin: Brazil
Genus: Ctenanthe
Species / Cultivar: burle-marxii 'Amabilis'
Common Name: Fishbone Prayer Plant, Never-Never Plant

Plant Biography

The genus Ctenanthe consists of around 15 species, which live in the relatively lowlight and humid conditions of the understories of tropical forests. Whilst many plants in this environment, such as climbers, have evolved to get closer to the light above, these have adapted to the conditions provided by the forest floor.

In their natural habitat, many Ctenanthe produce beautiful and boldly coloured flowers, but its their striking foliage which has led them to become a popular houseplant. So much so, that there are now countless cultivars each with their own unique foliage, ensuring that there’s a Ctenanthe for everybody, and every home.

Ctenanthe burle-marxii ‘Amabilis’ is less tall and more compact and delicate than Marantas and Calatheas, spreading outwards if they are given enough space, ideal for filling larger containers.

Ctenanthe burle-marxii ‘Amabilis’
Light: Medium
This plant likes a spot further away from bright windows, but still lit by natural light.
Soil: Indoor Potting Mix
Enjoys moist well drained soil with composted organics and some drainage material.
Temperature: 15-25°C
Temperature range at which this plant is healthiest and grows best.
Growth Rate: Slow
Expect to see quite small amounts of growth over the years.
Final Size: Small
Will stay small enough for a desk or shelf.
Water Requirement: Light Watering
Water when several cm of soil depth is dry to the touch. Water must draining easily away.
Humidity: High
Provide moist air via daily misting or trays of wet grit. Keep away from drafts and heaters.
Maintenance: A little
Easy to care for, just keep an eye on any extra environmental needs such as humidity.

Expert Tip

Wiping the leaves regularly helps to prevent a build up of dust and can help your Calathea thrive.
Why Prayer Plants 'Pray'

Why Prayer Plants 'Pray'

As a member of the Prayer Plant family, the leaves of this Ctenanthe will characteristically ‘pray’, folding up at night before re-opening again as the morning sun rises.

At the base of each leaf is a joint-like thickening called the pulvinus, which swells and shrinks in response to pressure developed in the leaves. This is what enables the ‘praying’ to take place.

This movement of the leaves is a process known as nyctinasty, which serves a number of purposes. It allows the plant to absorb as much light as possible in its low light rainforest environment, helps to absorb and retain water, and reduces the risk of fungi and bacteria forming on their leaves.

Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Prayer Plants can be fussy when placed in the wrong location, so choosing a good spot is essential. 


A place with bright but indirect light is ideal. Avoid south facing spots with too much intense direct sunlight, unless you diffuse the light with a sheer curtain. 


Like other Prayer Plants this plant enjoys high humidity, but overly wet soil can quickly lead to root rot. 


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