Common Name: Ant Plant, Maze Plant
Botanical Name: Hydnophytum papuanum
Hydnophytum papuanum is not your run-of-the-mill indoor plant! This Ant Plant (sometimes called Maze Plant) has its goods near the hood, with its bulging base getting fuller and broader over time, filling the pot in the right spot! The leaves of the Maze Plant are most often dark green colored and appear to be glossy. It is possible for your plant to look more red or purple in coloring, when it has been unprotected from higher levels of light. The Ant Plant is a slow grower, needing higher than average humidity levels, 6+ hours of bright indirect light each day, and water when the soil becomes dry. This relatively low-maintenance houseplant is fun to be around and will put a smile on your face every time you adore it! Learn more about how to care for Maze Plants.
Ant Plants grow and look best under bright, indirect sunlight. If the sun exposure is direct, you might risk burning its leaves. For best results, the plant requires a minimum of 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. We recommend filtering direct afternoon sunlight with curtains to prevent the leaves from burning. It can take 1-2 hours of direct morning sunlight before the sun's rays peak in the afternoon.
Maze Plants thrives in semi-shady conditions in its natural environment, but it requires bright light to grow indoors. Ensure you place your plant in a good, well-lit area for the best results. It is preferred that your plant is put by a window that is facing either the east or north. Another idea is to use a grow light to replace light levels.
When it comes to watering your Hydnophytum papuanum plant, the soil should be kept consistently, but not sopping wet! Over watering Ant plants will cause the caudices to become soft and the roots will rot if left to sit in water for extended periods of time. On the other hand, the soil should never completely dry out or it will become compacted and resistant to absorbing moisture. If the soil does become compacted, soak the entire root ball in room temperature water until the soil softens and expands for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of your plant.
Altering your watering routine may be necessary due to your specific living conditions. Anything from the temperature, light levels to air circulation could impact how frequent your plant needs to be watered. You will most likely find yourself needing to water your plant more often during the hotter and drier months.
Maze Plants requires soil rich in organic matter that drains well but not excessively. The roots need time to absorb the moisture from the soil, but not so much time that the roots can drown!
It is preferred that the soil is a bit acidic to neutral pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. Testing kits are good for monitoring the pH range for the soil and if needed, it will be easier to know if any modifications need to be made.
You can use any reputable soil mixture containing organic composted material and does not contain water-retentive crystals. Proper drainage is critical for Ant Plants as dense, compacted soil will lead to root rot!
The Maze Plants are huge fans of warm temperatures. At night, they grow well at temperatures between 65 to 70 °F and 75 to 80 °F during the day. Adjust the thermostat at home to regulate any temperature fluctuations. Keep your plant out of any temperatures that are severe. Sudden changes in the temperature will cause stress and harm to your plant’s health.
In the cold, winter months, give your plant warmth such as using a mat. By using a heat source, the right temperature for your plant will be kept.
Since they are tropical natives, Ant Plants thrive in high humidity. If you live in a location with low humidity levels, consider using a humidifier to maintain humidity levels over 50% in your home. Using a humidifier, grouping plants together, misting the leaves or a pebble tray with water can be great options for helping give your Hydnophytum papuanum the extra dampness they crave.
Note that by locating your Ant Plant by a bathroom or kitchen sink will also get your plants those higher humidity levels. If you do end up placing your plant near one of these spots, plan on keeping a close eye on your plant, so you are aware if the humidity levels need to be adjusted.
We recommend feeding your Ant Plants every 2-3 weeks while they are actively growing with a complete water-soluble fertilizer diluted by ¼ the recommended strength or sprinkle time-release fertilizer granules into the top layer of the soil in the springtime. You can also incorporate organic composted materials into the top few inches of the soil every few months before the winter! Ensure you water your plants following fertilizing them. This is both to help give the exact amount of nutrients to your plant and avoid any possible buildup.
Be sure you do not fertilize your Maze Plants when there is no active growth during the winter. Always keep in mind that fertilizer requirements will differentiate on influences such as the plants age, size, and any environmental issues that might occur.
Ant Plants are slow growing indoor plants! It will take years for them to develop a full caudex and for the foliage to grow to its mature height of 24” in height. Your plants available space, light intensity, and growing conditions play a big role in how tall your plant will get. If all the conditions are good, you will notice that gradually, your plant will grow. Other essentials for your plant to grow tall and healthy, is keeping a consistent temperature, along with ensuring you are fertilizing your plant. It sometimes can be a waiting game with Ant Plants, so patience is very important. Let it take the time your plant needs in order it to be the best and healthiest it can be!
Pet Friend or Foe
Hydnophytum papuanum is toxic to pets. Foe!
- Ant Plants may drop its leaves during winter or when the soil has been dry for too long! Wait for the leaves to sprout back in spring and start watering consistently.
- If you are growing Maze Plant outside, you do not have to worry about cleaning its leaves because nature will take care of it. However, if you are growing it indoors, spray the leaves once a week to unclog the dirt from its pours.
- When this plant grows outdoors, the inside of the caudex has a maze system that was created by ants as the Maze Plant, and the ants have a natural symbiotic relationship.