One of the lesser-known relatives of Tradescantia zebrina that you should consider adding to your houseplant collection is Geogenanthus ciliatus or the Geo Plant.
While this plant is difficult to pronounce, it’s fairly easy to look after, especially in a terrarium, and the hardest part you’ll have to deal with is finding the plant, as it is quite rare in cultivation.
This plant is instantly recognizable for its highly glossy, oval leaves. Juvenile leaves will be very bright green with a streak of purple, and when they are mature, they deepen into a luxurious plum shade that looks mostly black in some lights.
Interested in growing your own Geo Plant? Here’s what you need to know.
How To Grow Geo Plants
It’s worth knowing that Geo Plants hail from the jungles of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia as ground cover plants.
This means that they will struggle in average humidity levels, so the best way to keep them is in terrariums, as they need plenty of humidity and moisture to thrive.
Ideal Light For Geogenanthus Ciliatus
Darker leaves tend to mean your plant does better in darker light levels than some plants do, and Geogenanthus ciliatus is no exception.
However, they do need bright and indirect light, as prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will cause the leaves to burn.
It’s also a good idea to avoid putting terrariums in direct sunlight, as this can cause your plants to cook!
Considering both of these points, it’s worth having grow lights for this plant or putting it in a Northern or Eastern-facing window where the light won’t be too strong.
Temperature And Humidity Needs For Geo Plants
Geogenanthus ciliatus likes it comfortable, so anything less than 50°F will kill this plant! Aim between 50°F and 75°F for best results, preferably with as few fluctuations as possible.
As for humidity, this plant requires nearly 90% humidity to thrive, which is very difficult to achieve if the plant isn’t grown in an enclosed environment.
Try not to mist this plant where possible. If you need to up the humidity in a mini greenhouse but don’t want to use a humidifier, put the pot on a pebble tray filled with water, making sure that the water can’t wick up into the pot.
You could also put a glass of water in there to boost humidity, but the pebble tray trick tends to work better.
To keep things as stable as possible, keep your Geogenanthus ciliatus in a terrarium, which will do most of the work for you.
Ideal Soil For Geogenanthus Plants
When it comes to compost, Geogenanthus plants need good drainage. A standard houseplant compost mix will do if you add a handful or two of perlite or orchid bark, which will help divert excess water away from the plant.
When To Water Geo Plants
As for watering, Geo Plants like a lot of moisture. Allow the top two inches of compost to dry out, and then water the plant thoroughly.
Depending on the different care elements, this might mean you have to water your plant as often as twice a week, or it may be much less.
Remember that terrariums help lock in moisture to an extent, so always check the soil before you water.
How To Propagate Geo Plants
The best way to propagate Geo Plants is to take stem cuttings, during the growing season.
Always choose healthy plant material, using sharp scissors to make a cutting that has a pair of leaves.
Once you cut your props, set them aside to air dry for a day.
To increase the chances of success, use some rooting hormone once the cuttings have managed to heal over for a day or two, and then plant immediately in fresh compost.
To make things easier, use a square pot. Square pots allow you to place cuttings in each corner, helping to support your cuttings and keep them upright.
Put the pot somewhere warm and bright, but avoid any direct sunlight where possible. Use a propagation tray, cloche, or terrarium for best results, locking in moisture and humidity.
Don’t let the soil dry out completely, as this can stop roots from forming on your cuttings.
Another good way to propagate your Geogenanthus ciliatus is to divide an existing plant.
If it has more than one stem, you can simply divide the plant into two or three divisions, making sure each one has a good amount of roots and top growth, and plant them up separately.
It also means you don’t have to wait around for roots to form, as each division already has roots.
Just make sure you divide the plant during the growing season, just as you would with any method of propagation.
If you like experimenting with propagation techniques, try rooting some Geogenanthus ciliatus cuttings in sphagnum moss, or LECA.
Problems To Watch Out For
The main problem you’ll need to watch out for is the leaves turning brown or crisping up, which is common in low humidity levels. For best results, keep this plant in a terrarium.
Geogenanthus ciliatus is a beautiful plant, but it’s not exactly the most easy-going when compared to its cousin, Tradescantia zebrina.
To grow this plant well, you need a terrarium, as the 90% humidity requirement is pretty difficult to achieve without it.
Don’t forget to increase airflow when you increase humidity, so air out the terrarium occasionally to prevent fungal issues.