The Stromanthe Triostar (Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’) is also know by other names including magenta triostar, variegated bloody stromanthe and Calathea Triostar.
While it is sometimes called a Calathea, it actually isn’t one. Instead it is a member of the marantaceae family (Prayer Plant family) because it opens its leaves when the sun it out and folds them up during nighttime like doing a prayer pose.
With this plant, all you need is one look and you’ll be mesmerized. Its long beautifully colored leaves come in red, green and white making it perfect for the Holidays.
What makes its variegation amazing is that they’ll always look different such that you can have 5 different triostars in front of you and none of them will look like any of the anothers.
Given the right conditions, it can grow to between 4 to 6 feet. Although in most cases, it reaches between 2 to 3 feet, which makes it ideal as a houseplant.
However, this Brazilian rainforest native, is not the easiest plant to grow. As such, it isn’t well suited for beginners. And it can quickly go against you by turning yellow and brown. That said, having the right (warm, humid) conditions helps a lot since all you need to learn is how to water it to its liking.
Stromanthe Triostar Plant Care
Stromanthe Triostar Light
Stromanthe Triostar are native to tropical rainforests. There, they live under the canopy of branches and leaves of bigger plants and trees. This makes them accustomed to dapped light.
As such, they best grow when provided with medium to bright, indirect light. The more light they receive the more vibrant their variegations will be. However, do not expose them to direct sunlight for long periods of time. This will scorch their leaves leaving burn spots.
On the other hand, leaving them in places where there is too little light will cause them to lose the variegations in their leaves.
As such, keeping it near an east facing or north facing window is best. The former gives you a lot of gentle morning sunlight, whereas the latter offers a little less light.
Start out with these locations and adjust based on how your plant responds. You can move it closer or farther from the window. Or, adjust its position relative to where the light is coming from.
Trial and error is key with this plant because is has a few idiosyncrasies.
- For one, the plant likes to reach for the light. To balance out its growth, rotate the plant every so often. I like to rotate it every time I water it. This way, it becomes habit instead of having to remember. Since you water regularly, it gets a few days of light on each side every so often.
- Also, the dark red colored underside of its leaves absorb light from the sun very well. While this makes them more efficient it also affect how much light they receive compared to other plants in the same location. As such, medium sunlight can feel like bright light. This is also one reason why it can do well even in slightly low light conditions.
- Finally, its leaves open and close depending on the time of day. They do so because they react to the amount of light. In the morning, their foliage open up to absorb as much light as they can. When the sun goes down, it folds up in a “prayer pose”.
Together, these feature make it a little harder to predict how the plant will respond to medium and bright light on different windows and homes. So, you need to position them then observe and adjust.
Keep doing so until you find the perfect spot.
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Stromanthe Triostar Temperature & Humidity
Since they grow in the Brazilian rainforest, the Stromanthe Triostar is used to the tropical environment of the Amazon. Thus, they enjoy temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit most.
Just as importantly, it doesn’t like it when the temperature drops under 60 degrees. This makes it suitable for USDA zones 9 to 12 where the weather is moderate to warm throughout the year.
If you do grow it outside, make sure that it stays under shade, partial shade or only received morning sun. In other spots where it gets direct sun or afternoon sun, the plant will struggle.
This feature also makes it perfect as a houseplant since most homes have this comfortable temperature. The challenge indoors is that you want to keep it away from drafts. This includes those from open windows and doors as well as heaters, electric fans and air conditions.
The other side of the climate equation is humidity. Here, it loves moderate to high humidity (>50%). In fact, conditions with the right humidity levels allows the plant to grow properly and produce its best colors. More importantly, you need to be consistent with humidity to get the best results.
Because homes average between 40% to 50% humidity, you’ll want to invest in a hygrometer. This will instantly tell you what the relative humidity is in any room in your home. As such, you can adjust as needed.
Brown edges, wrinkled or withered leaves are all signs that the air is too dry. So, you need to increase humidity.
Here are a few options to increase humidity.
- This is the easiest. But it is also the most temporary and involves the most manual labor. Also, if your home’s humidity is fairly low, misting may not be enough to raise it to the needed levels.
- Grouping plants together increases the humidity around them because they transpire. This is more hands off. But, the size of the plants and how many plants you group together affects how much they can raise the currently humidity. Again, this may or may not increase air moisture enough.
- Pebble tray. This involved keeping the plant on rocks and letting it sit on a dish with water. As the water evaporates, it increases moisture in the air. This is another no cost and hand-off method. You can likewise add more water around the plant to increase humidity.
- The bathroom. Many plant owners keep the Stromanthe Triostar in their bathroom because this has the most humidity in your home (due to showering). The challenge here is getting enough light the plant needs.
- This is the costliest method. But it is the surest way to achieve the humidity you need.
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Watering Stromanthe Triostar
Stromanthe Triostar need damp or moist conditions to thrive. But, avoid wet, soggy soil as with will make them susceptible to fungal problems and root rot.
Overwatering is the biggest problem most houseplants will experience. And, the Stromanthe Triostar is not excluded.
On the other hand, if you see its leaves start to crisp or their edges turn brown or yellow, it is a sign you’re underwatering.
This along with humidity will be your biggest challenges when caring for this plant. As you would expect, watering is closely related to the next section soil. So, do use the information here and below together.
One reason that watering your plant can be tough is because of climate conditions and the plant’s growing cycle.
In the warmer months, the plant also enters its growing cycle. As such, the it will need water more than usual. It drinks more water as it uses more energy to grow. Also, warm, sunny weather means liquid evaporates faster.
As such, you’ll need to water more regularly between late March and September.
On the other hand, during cold weather, allow the soil to get drier. That’s because wintertime has less sunlight. As such, evaporation significantly slows down. Additionally, the plant also enters its dormant phase.
As such, I’ve found that the best way to check when to water your Stromanthe Triostar is to dip your finger into the soil until the first knuckle from your fingernail. At one inch depth, if the soil is dry, it is a sign to water the plant. If that level is moist, wait before watering.
Finally, stay away from tap water. The Stromanthe Triostar is sensitive to hard water. So, if your municipality adds a lot of chemicals into the water, which most do then you want avoid using tap water on this plant.
The only exception is if you let the tap water sit at room temperature overnight before using it. This allows the chemicals like fluoride and chlorine to evaporate first.
If you live in an area where it rains quite a bit, you can use rainwater as well. This is actually your best option since the plant is used to rain in its native conditions.
Your other options include distilled and filtered water. Although, you do need to pay for both. One for the bottled water, the other for the filters.
In order to avoid overwatering or waterlogging, the Stromanthe Triostar grows best in well draining soil. Using a light, airy potting mix allows moisture to drain so that your plant doesn’t end up sitting in water for long periods of time.
You want to avoid soil that’s heavy. And, you don’t want it to be compacted either. Anything that retains too much moisture is not a good choice for this plant because of its susceptibility to too much moisture and root rot.
An easy way to achieve this is to use a high quality, rich potting mix. Then, add perlite to make it lighter. Perlite allows moisture to drain faster. It will also let you adjust the level of drainage by adding more or less perlite as needed.
During the warm months, feed your Stromanthe Triostar with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength once every 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure to dilute the concentration otherwise you may end up overfeeding it, which can leave to root burn.
Similarly, always start on the conservative end. That is with once every 3 weeks and see how the plant responds. Then move up if it doesn’t show any signs of overfeeding.
You don’t need to feed it during winter.
Pruning Stromanthe Triostar
Pruning your Stromanthe Triostar primarily involves trimming damaged or discolored leaves. This helps your plant look better. And, also allows you to control its size and shape.
If some leaves are just partially damaged, you don’t need to prune it entirely, Instead, just cut off the parts that are affected.
It is also worth mentioning that always limit your pruning sessions to at most a third of the plant. Since you’ll likely be trimming the bigger, older leaves, this will allow more light to reach the plant. As such, it can change the dynamics of how much light it gets to the point it received more light than it is comfortable with.
Thus, limiting how much your prune prevents that from happening.
Similarly, do clean its leaves when you’re pruning. Large leaves tend to collect a lot of dust. The more dust and debris there is on the foliage surface, the less light and air they are able to absorb. So, you want to regularly, clean them. All you need is a damp cloth.
Stromanthe Triostar Propagation
Stromanthe Triostar is best propagated by division. To do so, you’ll be separating some of the rhizomes form the parent plant. Unfortunately, stem cutting doesn’t work on this plant. So, while it is easier, it’s not a practical option.
The best time to do it is during spring right before or when it begins is growing season. Because the plant’s root system is small you also wan to be careful when working with it.
Here’s how to propagate Stromanthe Triostar through division.
- Get an extra pot of the new plant. You’ll also need fresh potting mix.
- Gently the mother plant out of its container. You’ll want to be careful because it has a small root system. Also, if the plant is somewhat rootbound, it will be harder to take it out. If this is the case, you can water the soil to make it easier to take out. If I suspect this is the case, I will water it a couple of days in advanced so the soil will be softer. Moisture also keeps the roots from being easily broken.
- Once the plant it out, inspect it and spread the roots out.
- Now, you want to look for rhizomes. Depending on how many new plants you want, you can separate those rhizomes. Each one will grow into their own plant.
- After your separated the rhizomes from the mother plant, put each in its own pot and cover with fresh potting mix.
- Repot the mother plant with fresh soil.
- Water the plants and place them in a warm spot with bright, indirect light.
Stromanthe Triostar Transplanting & Repotting
Your Stromanthe Triostar will need to be repotted once every 2 years or so. When you do so, be careful because the plant has a small, delicate root system. As such, it is easy to damage them.
This also means that you don’t want to get an overly larger pot or one that it too deep. Ideally, shallower pot will be better to reduce the risk of waterlogging.
When choosing a new pot, pick one that goes up only one size bigger. Also, make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess moisture to escape. You likewise want to use loose, well draining soil.
The plant is not toxic to humans and animals. Therefore, you can put them anywhere in your home or garden without having to worry that your kids, dogs or cats can get to them.
Pests and Diseases
Stromanthe Triostar doesn’t have a pest or disease problem. But, these can occur.
Disease is always a risk with plants that like moisture. And, the Stromanthe Triostar’s need for water and high humidity put it in this category.
As such, it is important to avoid overwatering the plant as it increases the risk of molds, fungus and root rot. By allowing the topsoil to dry between waterings, you can reduce the chances of these problems from happening.
When it comes to pests, aphids are the most common issue. Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of them.