The Stromanthe Magic Star is also known as the Calathea Magic Star or Calathea Magicstar. Although, it is important to note that the plant is not a “true” Calathea, instead it is classified as a Stromanthe, which is a close relative.
Therefore, make sure to care for the plant as a Stromanthe and not a Calathea.
The Stromanthe Magic Star care summary: Keep the Magic Star in bright, indirect light. Good lighting is important for the plant’s growth and foliage development.
Avoid overwatering and keep the plant in loose, well-draining soil. It enjoys moderate to warm temperatures (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and high humidity (at least 50%).
The plant is native to the rainforest of Brazil in South America. This makes it tropical in nature and explains why the plant prefers warmer, humid locations.
While often overshadowed by its more popular relative the Stromanthe Triostar, the Magic Star also produces stunning foliage.
Stromanthe Magic Star Plant Care
Calathea Magic Star Light Requirements
The Stromanthe Magic Star grows best in bright, indirect light indoors. You can likewise keep it outside. There partial shade is ideal for optimal growth.
It will likewise do well in moderate lighting and is able to tolerate low light to a certain extent. However, with the latter, you want to monitor it since it will get leggy, and growth will slow down if there’s insufficient lighting.
Just as importantly, avoid placing it somewhere with too much light. Too much intensity like direct sun, noontime to mid-day and that of peak summer will ultimately scorch its lovely leaves.
Therefore, once you see signs of this, move it somewhere with slightly less light.
For even growth, I highly recommend rotating the plant 90 degrees every few weeks. I like to do this every other time I water, which makes it easier to remember. But you can use any routine that works well for you.
The goal is to rotate the plant so all the sides get more or less an even amount of sunshine. That way it will grow evenly and balanced. The Magic Star tends to bend towards the light. And the side with more light will usually grow faster and produce larger leaves.
By turning the plant every so often, you keep the growth even in all sides.
Finally, don’t be alarmed if you see the plant’s leaves moving. Since it is a prayer plant, its leaves will fold up and open at different times of the day.
Usually, opening happens early in the morning around or before dawn. And its foliage folds up around dusk as ight turns into darkness.
Calathea Magic Star Temperature
The Calathea Magic Star has an ideal temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is its sweet spot and where it will grow fastest.
However, it will still do well even if you go up to around 90 degrees. But avoid leaving it in very hot locations for long periods as it will ultimately experience heat stress.
More importantly, it has much less tolerance to the cold.
That’s because it is native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil. As such, it is accustomed to warm to hot, humid environments. And there’s no snow in these locations.
Therefore, avoid leaving the plant in temperatures under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate a little bit of the cold here but the longer you leave it and the lower the temperature drops, the higher the risk of cold injury.
For this reason, the Stromanthe Magic Star is ideal for USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12 if kept outdoors. In these zones, you can leave it outside all year round and it will grow happily under full year sunshine.
In colder locations, be sure to take the plant indoors once the temperature drops to 65 degrees. You can then bring it back outside during summertime.
The Stromanthe Magic Star has an ideal humidity of 50% to 70%. Again, this is something it has gotten used to by living in the rainforest, where the regular rainfall increases moisture in the air.
Fortunately, the plant will tolerate 40% humidity and anything above that. This makes it easier to care for in most homes. However, you still need to monitor humidity since hot summers and cold winters tend to dry up the air.
If you live somewhere with different seasons, I do suggest getting a hygrometer. This will let you immediately know what the room humidity is. And take any action if needed.
If you need to increase humidity, the simplest ways are by misting the plant, getting a humidifier or placing the plant on a pebble tray.
Of the three, the humidifier provides more consistency and allows you to determine how much air moisture to add.
It is also worth noting that I’m also not a huge fan of misting. Although it is simple to do, you need to keep repeating often. Additionally, if you wet the plant’s leaves too much, you run the risk of infection or fungus gnats.
How Often to Water Stromanthe Magic Star
The Stromanthe Magic Star enjoys moist soil. But be careful not to overdo it since wet, soggy soil can cause a lot of problems. The biggest of which is root rot.
Because of this, I tend to prefer erring on the side of caution. That is, allowing the soil to dry a bit more between waterings.
How often you water your Calathea Magic Star depends on how fast the soil dries. Wait until the top two inches of soil is completely dry before adding more water.
Similarly, you play is safe and wait until the soil is 50% dry before watering again. This reduces the risk of overwatering.
To test the soil, stick your index finger down until about the second knuckle. This is around 2 inches from the surface of the soil.
If the soil at that depth is dry, then you can water again. But avoid doing so before it is completely dry.
You can likewise use a wooden stick or chopstick and see until where the wood gets wet. This will tell you how much of the soil is wet or dry.
Because you base your watering frequency on how much of the soil is dry, you’ll end up watering more often during summer and less so during winter.
That’s because the warm weather and stronger sun will dry soil faster. In contrast, the cold winter and lack of sunlight during this time means it takes soil much longer to dry.
The other thing to be aware of is water quality.
The plant is sensitive to impurities and too many minerals or chemicals in the water. Therefore, locales with lots of chlorine or fluoride in their tap is not ideal for your Stromanthe Magic Star.
Instead, use rainwater, purified or distilled water. You can also let the tap water sit at room temperature overnight to allow the excess minerals to evaporate.
- Stromanthe Triostar Care – How to Grow Stromanthe Sanguinea
- Best Soil for Calathea: How to Choose the Right Potting Mix
- Calathea Flamestar Care & Propagation Guide (Including Photos)
- Calathea Grey Star Care – Growing Ctenanthe Setosa Grey Star
- Calathea Illustris Houseplant Care
- Growing & Caring for Calathea Lancifolia (the Rattlesnake Plant)
Stromanthe Magic Star Potting Soil
The other aspect of avoiding overwatering is the soil you use.
The ideal soil for the Stromanthe Magic Star is light, breathable and well-draining. It should be able to hold moisture as well, but not too much.
Avoid heavy soil or using regular potting mix since these tend to retain too much water. Waterlogged soil is just as bad as overwatering as it leaves the roots in water for extended periods of time.
This increases the risk of root rot.
Fortunately, it is easy to make your own potting mix for Stromanthe Magic Star. And you don’t need many ingredients.
Mix equal pats of regular potting mix and perlite. The perlite will add drainage and help keep the soil light.
In addition to the soil, make sure to get the right sized pot for the plant.
Avoid overpotting since containers that are too large will mean too much soil. The more excess soil you have the more moisture the roots will be left in when you water the plant.
It also takes much longer for the soil to dry.
Instead, choose a pot that’s just the right size. If you have a smaller plant, you can use a shallow put. For full sized Stromanthe Magic Star plants, go with a deeper pot to allow the roots more space.
When choosing a pot make sure that it has drainage holes at the bottom.
Lack of pot drainage defeats the purpose of having well-draining soil since the water will end up pooling at the bottom of the container anyways if there are no holes for the liquid to escape.
Calathea Magic Star Fertilizer
Once you get watering right, the rest of caring for your Calathea Magic Star is fairly easily.
Fertilizing is straightforward. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its growing season (spring to early fall). Dilute the suggested dose by half to reduce the concentration.
With fertilizer, the most important thing is to avoid overfeeding.
Since synthetic fertilizer use salts to carry the nutrients, these salts end up as byproducts once the plant absorbs the nutrients.
Therefore, the salts build up over time. And the more fertilizer you use, the more salts end up in the soil
The problem is that plants don’t like these salts. Where there’s a lot of it, it becomes toxic to its roots. This is why fertilizer burn occurs.
To deal with this, you can flush the soil every few months.
The Stromanthe Magic Star is not a large plant. It gets to between 1 to 2 feet tall when grown indoors. However, its leaves are long and they tend to expand outwards as the plant gets bushier.
Also, with proper care, it can grow quite quickly. Therefore, you may want to prune the plant’s thickness depending on the look you’re going for.
As such, how much and how often you trim the plant is really up to you.
I know many growers who like to let it grow out and only trim a bit to keep it looking tidy. Others want a specific look and manicure the plant more often.
In addition to pruning, cleaning is another important maintenance task to consider.
Use a damp cloth to wipe the dust from the plant’s leaves. You can also use a mixture of soap and water solution to clean the leaves. This helps keep pests away as well.
How to Propagate Stromanthe Magic Star
The most effective way to propagate the Stromanthe Magic Star is through division. The plant cannot be propagated from stem or leaf cuttings.
While this takes a bit more work initially, it does save you the time of having to wait for roots to grow.
The best time to propagate the plant is during spring or early summer. It is also a good idea to propagate when you repot. This way you don’t have to keep unpotting the plant.
Here’s how to propagate your Stromanthe Magic Star by division.
- Start by carefully taking the plant out of is container. You’ll get the entire root ball out in one piece. Take your time as you don’t want to break any roots.
- Once the root ball is out of the pot, brush off the excess soil to expose the roots and rhizomes.
- If you look closely, you’ll see that the rhizomes have natural separations. These are the spots where you’ll gently separate them.
- Make sure that each rhizome you get has its own set of roots. This will allow it to survive on its own.
- Plant the separated rhizomes and cover them in potting mix.
- Water the plant but avoid wet, soggy soil.
- Each rhizome will eventually grow into its own Stromanthe Magic Star plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Stromanthe Magic Star
Repot your Stromanthe Magic Star once every 2 years. This is just a guideline so don’t expect it to be precise.
The reason is that the plant may grow much faster or slower depending on the care and environment it is in. For example, if one plant gets more light, it will grow faster than other that receives less light.
On the other hand, a plant that experienced pest infestation or disease will have had setbacks to slowed down its growth.
Thus, the best way to tell when to repot your plant is to check the roots. Once the plant gets root bound, it is time to repot.
When this happens, you’ll see roots peeking out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Sometimes, they will circle the root ball or start working their way up to the soil surface via the small creases between the pot and the soil
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Stromanthe Magic Star is pet-friendly and safe for humans as well. It is non-toxic which makes it safe to keep around the home even if you have kids and pets running around.
Stromanthe Magic Star Problems & Troubleshooting
Calathea Magic Star Pests
The Stromanthe Magic Star is quite resistant to pests. This makes bugs and insects less of a problem. However, the plant is not completely immune to them.
Therefore, sap suckers like spider mites and aphids can still occur. This tends to happen more with a stressed out or weak plant.
Thus, keeping the plant in good healthy is very important.
Similarly, excess moisture attracts fungus gnats. So, it is a good idea to keep watering and misting in check.
Just like pests, the plant does not experience disease often. Again, moisture plays a large role here since excess moisture is what increases the risk of fungal infections and possible root rot.
Therefore, it is very important to allow the soil to partially dry between waterings and to use the right kind of soil. Also, make sure your pots have drainage.