The Ctenanthe plant, native to tropical Brazil, is a member of the Marantaceae family and is related to the Calathea and Prayer plant. These evergreen perennials are grown primarily for the beauty of their large, oval, colorfully, patterned leaves. The three species which make good houseplants are C. lubbersiana, C. oppenheimiana, and C. burle-marxii. C. lubbersiana reaches a height of about 18 inches and has green and yellow patterned elliptical leaves with pale green undersides. C. oppenheimiana also called the ‘Never Never Plant, grows as tall as 3ft., produces lance shaped leaves that are dark green with silver bands, and has foliage with maroon undersides. The Tricolor variety of C.oppenheimiana is even more colorful. C. burle-marxii is a smaller more compact plant that has silver gray elliptical leaves with green stripes. These plants are considered mildly poisonous (although often listed as non-toxic)), and may cause allergic reactions. It should be kept away from pets and small children. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants. A Ctenanthe is not easy to care for and leaves are quickly damaged when the humidity is not high enough. This plant can be quite frustrating for a novice plant grower.
Yellow leaves on a Ctenenathe Plant means you are allowing the soil to get too dry. The soil of a Ctenanthe Plant should be moist at all times.
When a Ctenanthe gets too much light, heat, or too little water, the leaves curl up to protect themselves. Move your Ctenanthe to a cooler less bright location and give it a little more water. The leaves should unfold almost immediately.
You’ve probably over watered the plant and it has developed root rot. Although Ctenanthes like to be moist, they don’t like soggy soil. During the cooler months they need less water.
Ctenanthes needs a great deal of humidity. Brown dry leaf tips are caused by dry air and not enough humidity. Place your plant on a wet pebble tray or set a small humidifier near it.