Never Never Plant Care – Growing Calathea Setosa (Ctenanthe Setosa) Tips

calathea setosa

Last Updated on January 20, 2023 by Admin

The Calathea Setosa is a beautiful houseplant with long striped leaves for which it is best known for.

But, it is important to note while the plant is commonly referred to as the Calathea Setosa in many stores, it is actually a member of the Ctenanthe genus.

Thus, its actual name is actually Ctenanthe Setosa.

In many instances, you’ll likely see it labeled as the Never Never Plant, which is its popular common name.

Do note that the Ctenanthe genus is very closely related to the Calathea, Stromanthe and Maranta. And, they have many similarities.

Once is the Calathea Setosa is also a prayer plant as it belongs to the Marantaceae family. This means it folds it leaves up like it is praying once the sun goes down.

And if you look at the plant it actually looks very much like some calathea species, which is why many stores label them under this genus.

The good news is that it is not as fussy as many calathea. And while you do need to watch its humidity and water, the other aspects of the plant are very easy to handle.

Here’s how to care for your Never Never Plant.

Calathea Setosa Plant Care

Never Never Plant Care Summary


Never Never Plant Light Requirements

The Calathea Setosa thrives on bright areas provided that you keep it away from direct sunlight, which can burn its lovely leaves.

Instead, it prefers indirect sun. Dappled, diffused or filtered sunlight works just as well. As long as your keep it away from direct contact with the sun’s rays it will do great.

The reason for this is that in its native habitat it lives under the large trees and branches overhead. As such, the forest canopy blocks a good part of the sun’s rays.

This lets the plant receive a lot of bright light but without the harshness of the rays.

As such, your Never Never Plant does best in an east or north facing window where the sun isn’t too intense.

On the other hand if it gets a western or southern exposure, it is a good idea to keep that plant at least 3 to 6 feet away from the window. Or, you can filter some of the sun using sheer drapes or curtains.


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Never Never Plant Temperature

Like many other tropical plants, your Never Never Plant enjoys warm surroundings. This makes it perfect for homes since we humans also enjoy moderate to warm conditions.

More specifically, it grows best when temperature if kept between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what we enjoy most as well.

This makes it easy to care for the plant with regards to temperature.

However, it is important to keep in mind that while the plant can tolerate higher temperatures (all the way up to 85 and 90 degrees), it does not do the same for colder conditions.

Ideally, you want to keep it away from paces that are colder than 60 degrees. Once the temperature hits 55 degrees, the plant will begin to stress.

Thus, cold drafts, vents and air conditioning are no-no’s.

Similarly, it is only hardy to USDA Zones 9 to 12. Below zone 9, it won’t be able to get through the colder winters.



Humidity is a bit more challenging. That’s because the plant enjoys moisture.

Its ideal humidity is 60% or higher. Although, it does well between 50% and 60%.

Nevertheless, these levels are still a bit too high for most homes here in the states. It is less of a problem in you live in Central or South America as well as parts of Asia where the humidity consistently stays in the high 50s and mid 60s.

Lack of humidity will cause your Calathea Setosa’s leaves to curl. It will also make the tips of its foliage turn brown.

As such, you want to keep it away from heaters, fireplaces and air conditioners because these dry up the air. Hot summers and cold winters will also dry the air.

Since most homes have humidity levels between 30% and 50%, you’ll likely need a humidifier to keep the plant happy.

If you prefer more natural methods, you can mist the it 3 times a week. Or, place the pot on top of pebbles in a water tray.

I also highly suggest getting a digital hygrometer so you can monitor any changes in room humidity as the seasons change. This will let you stay on top of things.

ctenanthe setosa

source: wikimedia commons


How Often to Water Calathea Setosa

Watering your Never Never Plant is the most challenging part of caring for this houseplant. That’s because it enjoys moist soil, especially during the warmer months, but does not appreciate wet, soggy or waterlogged soil.

In fact, consistent overwatering will eventually cause it to develop root rot, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

During its growing seasons (spring and summer), the plant will need sunlight, water and fertilizer in order to fuel its growth.

But, come fall and winter, you’ll need to cut back of watering as the weather gets colder. This makes it longer for soil to dry. And, during this time, the plant also takes a break from growing making it require much less moisture and nutrients.

The easiest way to avoid overwatering is to always test the soil before you water.

You can do so by sticking your finger down to about 2 inches deep into the soil. Or using a moisture meter.

Ideally, you want the top soil to be dry to at least 2 inches before watering. This helps prevent overwatering.

And, when you do water, soaking the soil then allowing it to drain completely is ideal.

You want to keep adding water until the root ball is soaked with water. This allows moisture to reach the roots. Then, leave it to drain so all the excess moisture can drip off the root ball.

The latter will take about 15 minute or so depending on how big the plant is.

As such, it is a good idea to work on your other plants while you let it drain.


Soil for Calathea Setosa

calathea setosa watering

Because of the balance needed to maintain ideal moisture for you Calathea Setosa, getting the right kind of soil is crucial.

It needs soil that can hold enough liquid to keep it moist. But, not too much that the plant will end up sitting in a pool of water.

Thus, the ideal potting mix for you Never Never Plant is on that is well-draining.

This holds enough moisture to hydrate the plant. But, will drain the excess away in order to prevent waterlogging.

For optimal growth, nutrient rich soil that is acidic to neutral does best.

To achieve this kind of soil, you have a few options.

One of the simplest recipes f to use 2 parts peat to 1 part perlite or sand. You can also use African violet potting soil if you prefer using one out of the box that’s readily available in garden centers.


Never Never Plant Fertilizer

As mentioned above, your Calathea Setosa also appreciate fertilizer during the spring and summer. It needs this to grow at its best.

But, you do want to refrain from overdoing it, which is what many people do in hopes that more fertilizer means more growth.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

I like to use a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month diluted to half strength during its growing season. There’s no need to feed it during fall and winter as the plant takes a break from its growth to rest and recover.


Never Never Plant Pruning

Your Never Never Plant can grow up to 7 feet tall. And, on average will produce about 5 to 7 leaves each year.

That said, when kept indoors in containers. it often ends up getting to about 3 or so feet high. The plant also produces large leaves reaching as long as 16 inches.

However, its growth habit makes it only require occasional pruning.

The plant actually looks better when more bushy than it is when sparse. As such, you’ll only need to prune if its gets too full or the leaves overlap too much over one another.

Additionally, remove any damaged or discolored leaves as well.


Calathea Setosa Propagation

calathea setosa propagation

The best way to propagate your Calathea Setosa is via stem cuttings. The reason that you can do so is that it is not a true Calathea. Instead, the plant is actually a Ctenanthe.

As such, cuttings are a very viable way to propagate it.

That said, you can also divide the plant to propagate it if you wish.

However, I’ve found that most home growers prefer stem and leaf cuttings because it is more convenient.

To propagate your Never Never Plant through stem cuttings:

  • Take a 3 to 5 inch long stem with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
  • Place it in a glass or jar with water. Make sure to remove the leaves that will get submerged in the water.
  • Change the water every few days to keep it clean.
  • Within 2 to 3 weeks or so, you should see roots developing. Wait until the roots get to about half an inch or an inch long.
  • Then, move the cutting to a small pot with fresh potting soil.
  • Water the soil to keep it moist. And, place the plant under bright, indirect light.


How to Repot Calathea Setosa

With proper care and the right conditions, your Never Never Plant can grow quite quickly. Although, in most cases you’ll only need to repot every 1 to 2 years.

Ideally, you want to wait until the plant is pot bound before doing so. This means the roots are sneaking out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.

The best time to repot is during spring.

And, if you want to propagate it via division, this will be the best time to do so. You want to take the plant out of its home as little as possible since this shocks the plant.

When repotting, move the plant to a pot that is 2 inches wider. If you’re dividing it, you can reuse the same container since the root ball will be much smaller after the separation.



The Calathea Setosa is not toxic to people and pets. Thus, it poses no poison risk in case of ingestion.

That said, some people can experience allergic reactions albeit minor.


Pests and Diseases

The Calathea Setosa is quite resistant to both pests and diseases. This makes it easier to care for it without having to deal with the headaches that come with these issues.

However, it is very important to give it proper care and living conditions. Without either, it can become susceptible to pests or disease.

If this happens, the most common ones you’ll likely see are spider mites, mealybugs and thrips.

All of them pose a danger to your plant’s health so it is important to spot them early and treat it as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, root rot, leaf spot, mod and fungus are always threats because the plant enjoys high humidity. Moisture increases the risk of these diseases.

As such, being mindful of your watering habits is very important to avoid these problems.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you care for Calathea Setosa?

To care for a Calathea Setosa, place the plant where it can receive medium to bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist not wet. Do this by watering deeply. But wait until the top layer of soil has dried between waterings. A warm, humid environment is ideal. And give feed the plant with liquid fertilizer during its growing season.


How big do Calathea Setosa get?

The Calathea Setosa can grow to 7 feet high and 3 feet wide. Indoors, when kept in pots, it usually is smaller averaging about 3 feet tall. That said, its will still produce large leaves reaching 16 inches in length.


How often should I water Calathea Setosa?

Once a week watering is a good frequency for the Calathea Setosa. But always check the soil before you add more water. Wait until the top 2 inches of soil has dried between waterings. The goal is to keep soil moist but not soggy or wet. You’ll need to adjust frequency between summer when the weather is hot and water less often during winter when it gets cold.


Is Ctenanthe Setosa a prayer plant?

The Ctenanthe Setosa is considered a prayer plant. It shares this with Calatheas and Marantas. These genus are all prayer plants. That’s because their leaves close by folding upwards at night. The leaves then open up in the morning to catch more sunlight.


Why is it called the Never Never Plant?

A group of plants are called “Never Never Plant” or “prayer plant” because their leaves fold up at night making them look like they are praying. This allows the plant to conserve energy when there is no light. Its leaves will open up again in the morning to capture as much sunlight for photosynthesis.


How do you take care of the Never Never Plant?

To take care of Never Never plant, leave it in spot with bright, indirect light that’s warm. It also needs about once a week watering to keep the soil moist. Avoid overwatering or soggy soil as this increases the risk of root rot.


How much light do you need for a Never Never Plant?

Bright indirect sunlight is ideal for a Never Never Plant. Avoid too much direct sunlight as this is too strong and will burn the plant’s leaves. The Never Never Plant can tolerate some low light. But its growth will slow down and it won’t produce as many leaves.


Is a Never Never Plant a Calathea?

Is a Never Never Plant a Calathea? The Never Never Plant refers to the genus Ctenanthe, not the Calathea. Although, many people interchange the two and call them Ctenanthes Calatheas. That said, the two genus are related being part of the Marantaceae family. This makes them prayer plants as they fold their leaves at night in a “praying” position.


Is Ctenanthe poisonous?

Ctenanthe plants are mildly poisonous and they can cause mild allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. However, the plants are usually listed as non-toxic. They are also said to be not poisonous to pets including cats and dogs.

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