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Hello and welcome to my article about care for Stromanthe sanguinea, or better known Stromanthe Triostar plant – a gorgeous tropical beauty that can bring so much warmth to both your garden and home.
In this article I will focus on the indoor plant care and will try to be as thorough as possible, so you can read all of the important information in one place.
Hopefully, after you have read it, you will feel prepared to get down to business and enter this new and fun adventure!
Stromanthe Triostar – The What and How
Before we get down to all the aspects of the Triostar care, let us first go over some important information about it and its origin.
Stromanthe Sanguinea is a beautiful, vibrant tropical plant that is native to Brazilian rain forests. It belongs to the Marantaceae family and Stromanthe genus.
It is relative to Calathea plants that also belong to this family. Marantaceae family is also known as prayer-plant family, because its member plants have leaves that fold together during the night and resemble praying hands.
There are 21 Stromanthe species, Triostar being one of them and one of the most popular and cultivated species. All of these species are mostly found in South and Central America, which is why they love filtered sunlight and lots of moisture.
“Triostar” is one of its common names due to the three colors present on its leaves: green, white and tones of light pink. White color is present in all kinds of shapes and looks like smears on leaves, while the pink tone seems like a hue and varies is strength. This is because this plant has bright red undersides which give it an even more interesting look. Some other common names are “Tristar” and “Tricolor”.
This plant thrives in USDA zones 10 to 12 where average temperatures go from 30-35°F and 55-60°F respectively, showing in what a wide range of environments, it can grow.
Triostar usually reaches 5’ in height and 3’ in width when grown outside and a bit less, 2-3’ in height when grown indoors. It has large leaves that can grow between 6-12” long and have various smears and tones of white, green and pink colors offering enormous variety.
Triostar also blooms and its flowers are white or pink, but they rarely appear on the indoor specimen and are not as decorative as its leaves that primarily contribute to its beauty and looks.
How to Grow Stromanthe Triostar
Growing a Stromanthe Triostar is a serious task and this is not a plant for beginner growers who wish to try out their skills. This plant requires lots of your time and effort and will offer either gorgeous green leaves with pink hues or despair if you fail to do all the steps right.
One of the most important aspects of care of this plant’s care is the proper light because it mustn’t be placed in the direct one. Therefore, you should be able to provide filtered light for it.
The second crucial one is the moisture that needs to be high and constant and in no case should you allow the soil to become dry, as it will show almost instantly on the plant.
The temperature allows you to keep the plant in various rooms and offers more freedom, as this plant thrives in environments whose temperatures vary from 65°F (18°F) to 80°F (27°C).
Now, this temperature must be combined with enough moisture, since the proper temperature without it doesn’t mean much, nor does proper soil mix without proper light, etc.
As you can see all factors must be combined and followed to have a big, lush and happy plant.
How to Take Care of Stromanthe Triostar
You are about to read quite important information about caring for this plant and what it is that you have to do to provide adequate conditions for its quality growth.
1. The Right Soil Mix is Crucial
If you wish to take care of this plant properly, you must first offer a high-quality potting mix to it. This soil mix needs to be fast-draining because keeping the plant in very moist soil can cause it to rot very fast and lastly die. The trait that you are looking for is ‘good permeability’ – that is the ability to transmit water and air well and quickly.
Another option you could choose is a high-quality substrate, that is even better than soil. This is because of its very loose structure that allows your plant’s roots to grow freely and penetrate the substrate easily.
In case you plan to buy a large specimen, I suggest you get a substrate with clay in it for several reasons. First of all, it will provide the necessary stability for its roots and secondly, it will keep the moisture for a much longer period than the substrate without it.
Another important aspect of soil is its pH value, as there are plants that thrive primarily in acidic or alkaline soils. However, luckily, your plant isn’t that picky and will grow in soils with various pH values, unless they are extreme. If you still wish to know the recommended value as a point of reference it usually between 5.1 and 7.8.
Ph between 5.1 and 6.5 is mildly acidic, between 6.6 – 7.5 neutral and between 7.6 and 7.8 mildly alkaline.
Besides providing an adequate soil mix or substrate it is advisable to also add some compost to provide more nutrition to your plant.
Now, you might be wondering if you should add peat moss as well, but the answer is no. Peat moss has acidic pH and it a great choice for acid-loving plants, which is not the case with your Triostar. That is why more alkaline addition, such as substrate is a better option.
2. They like Certain Temperature
I have some good news for you and those are that your Triostar plant isn’t that picky when it comes to temperature, meaning that you are allowed much freedom in this aspect of care for it.
This plant is tropical indeed; however, it thrives in various temperatures that vary from 65°F (18°F) to 80°F (27°C). As you can see you can keep them in both cooler and warm spaces, as well as outside, however, please be careful when it comes to night temperatures. They shouldn’t drop below 60°F (15°C), because they can harm the plant and cause damage.
The good news is that Stromanthe Triostar belongs to the group of winter-hardy plants and can survive exposure to cooler weather and mellow winter, but this shouldn’t last for a long time.
In case you keep them in a pot outside, it is advisable to take them in if frost is expected until the weather gets warmer and sunnier.
3. Light Is Crucial as Well
With Triostar plants it is not enough to provide sufficient light, but also to provide a proper kind of light, meaning that it mustn’t be a direct one, but filtered – just like plants get it in shades of tropical forests. We will talk more about this in the section dedicated to light only.
4. The Right Pot Makes a Difference
Choosing the pot for your plant can be lots of fun because now more than ever there are thousands of different designs that can give it a whole new look. However, before nice colors and the right pattern you should first pay attention to several other characteristics that can affect your Triostar.
First of all, the pots need to have the right size! Stromanthe Triostar tends to grow better in shallow pots or even bowls and have its roots snug. This goes especially for the small specimen that prefers a smaller pot than you would naturally buy.
In case you have a large specimen, feel free to pick a deeper pot, but not too deep, as this can cause the lowest parts of roots to stagnate.
Besides its size, it is imperative that the pot you choose has drainage holes, through which excess water will exit. This is because your plant mustn’t sit in too much water as it will start to mold and rot.
You may wonder how is this when the plant is tropical, but the answer is that it does love moisture that it gets in its natural habitat, but not excessive moisture in the soil.
When growing other plants, people are advised to add pebbles on the bottom of the pot, however, this plant is not the case, as pebbles will hold excess moisture beneath the roots, which is a recipe for disaster.
Watering Stromanthe Triostar
As I already mentioned, water can make a HUGE difference for your plant, because too much or too little can make a very obvious effect and even cause your plant to die.
The Triostar is a tropical plant that loves moisture and humid air of above 50-75%, however, as much as air needs to provide humid air that much you need to be careful with watering.
It can adjust to different temperatures and lightning, but watering is a non-negotiable aspect of caring for this beauty.
It is important that you are consistent with this process and not skip “watering days” at any cost.
Unfortunately, you can see easily the lack of moisture on the leaves, until the plant is suffering from it.
If you travel often and know that you will not be there to water your plant regularly, I suggest you purchase self-watering pots that will do wonders for your Triostar.
Here are several tips in case you are not sure whether the soil needs more water.
Use a popsicle stick
It happens often that people sip-water their plants, which means that the surface gets enough water, but nothing gets deep enough to all of the roots. Thus, the best way to check the moisture level is to stick a popsicle stick to the bottom of the plant and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
During this time, it will, or will not get damp and will leave a mark on the stick. That way you will see how damp the soil is.
Look for drooping leaves
This is a very good method for plants with big leaves, such as your Triostar, because it needs much water that provides strength for the plant to keep them thick and upright. In case the plant starts experiencing water deficiency it will become obvious because its leaves will start to droop and look “sad”.
If leaves begin to wilt it means that the deficiency is serious and the plant is doing its best to keep that small amount of water it has. At this time, it stops the small openings on the leaves – stomata from opening, which means it stops taking in and releasing gases and with this the process of transpiration.
Discolored and crispy leaves
Leaves turning yellow or brown can be another sign of the lack of water, among other potential problems. If you see this occurrence, or that the leaves’ edges are becoming crispy and dry, please make sure there is enough moisture in the soil.
Check the pot weight
This is another practical advice, as pots of well-watered plants are heavier when the soil is damp compared to pots with dry soil. Thus, it is best to lift the pot at different times, before and after watering and get to know how heavy it is. This way, it will be another way to check whether more water is needed or not.
Moisture meters are a great option
In case you are scared or under or over watering your plant, then a moisture meter will be your best friend and show the state of the soil. This way, you won’t have a chance to make a mistake regarding watering. These gadgets are the most accurate way of knowing what level of moisture is present and it is most often shown on a scale from one to ten.
Proper Lighting for Stromanthe Triostar
When it comes to Triostar’s light necessities, this plant is a bit tricky to satisfy, because it doesn’t “work” in a way you would expect it to. One would argue that this plant needs lots of direct light as it is a tropical plant used to brightness and warmth, however, that is not the case.
When you look at their natural habitat, stromanthe triostars grows on the ground rain forests above which layers and layers of huge and lush trees cover the sun and the sky, absorbing most of its radiation.
What is left for the ground plants is just a chunk of the sunlight and this is what they are used to.
This is why you should never expose your plant to direct and strong sunlight. It can easily get burnt on its tender and unadjusted leaves and scorch them.
The best spot for it is a north or east-facing window that gets mild sun though out the day and the plant shouldn’t be kept more than a few feet from the window. Another good place is your bathroom, preferably next to a window, because bathrooms offer much-needed humidity, without you having to worry about it.
Another thing to keep in mind is to rotate your plant often, I would say every 1-2 weeks. This is because sun exposition of only one side of the plant can make one side grow faster and stronger, causing it to start leaning towards the opposite, less strong side.
A quite interesting fact is that Triostar’s pinkish hue comes from conserving sunlight very efficiently, more than most other plants. The undersides are so good at this, that they get the bright red color, giving the top side of the leaves that hue.
Leaves of Triostars move very quickly and they turn their leaves depending on the strength of the sunlight. When it is too sunny, the red undersides are turned towards the sky, and when the radiation is less strong, the green and white side is the one that absorbs the light.
Fertilizing Stromanthe Triostar
Fertilization is the process of applying additional nutrients to the soil – the ones your plant wouldn’t be able to get from the soil only or produce by itself. This can be quite crucial, especially for the indoor-grown plants that depend solely on your care and the soil you pick.
When plants are located in nature, they have a whole variety of nutrients and composts that come from other plants and tiny animals and their excretions. With all that food variety they can grow to become much stronger and larger than the most indoor specimen.
This is why many professional growers apply fertilizers to their plants and help them to achieve better results just like their “wild” relatives do.
There are different shapes of fertilizers and ingredients that are inserted, depending on plant kinds, their needs and other factors.
Some of the crucial chemical elements that your plant needs for living and all kinds of internal processes are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Some of these elements of the most important molecule – chlorophyll, without which the process of photosynthesis wouldn’t be possible; of ATP molecules that are the primary source of energy for major plant processes, and many other cells and plant structures.
Lack thereof or any kind of imbalance affects not only on other chemical elements but also other parts of the plant and can cause major setbacks, such as leaves becoming droopy, losing color, turning brown, making the plant susceptible to disease, etc.
Stromanthe Triostar Fertilizer – Does It Need It and When Exactly?
If you are growing a naturally small specimen indoors, it can grow well without applying any fertilizer, however, applying some won’t do it any harm. You just need to be careful with the amount and not exaggerate, which is something people tend to do. They apply a fertilizer several times, see good results and then add much more hoping for even better results. However, they end up poisoning their plant and causing the contra effect.
A good time for fertilization is in the “growing period” which lasts during spring and summer, when the plant’s cells rapidly reproduce, roots grow, as well as the stem and potentially flowers.
The plant enters this phase by waking up from a “dormant period” that lasts during fall and winter when the whole internal system of the plants slows down and brings down all the processes to a minimum.
Before entering this growth period, it might need a slight fertilizer boost and additional nutrients.
Another good time is after re-potting since the whole process presents real trauma for the plant and to recovered and adjust fast it needs more water than usual and could use fertilizer as well.
Types of Stromanthe Triostar Fertilizers
There are several forms of fertilizers you could use, from water-soluble, balanced, organic, capsules and other. In the end, it all comes down to a pretty similar effect and they work similarly. The difference is in the strength, the speed in which the result shows and in the combination of nutrients.
1. Balanced Fertilizer
This is one of the most recommended options for Triostar plants. The word “balanced” comes from the fact that the fertilizer has equal parts of three crucial elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
For example, in a package of 50 pounds that says 10-10-10 there is 10% of each element, which is 5 pounds.
Balanced fertilizer tends to be quite strong, and one should be very careful during application and use it only once a year. Before fertilization, you should water your plant abundantly, so it can drain away any used nutrients.
2. Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizers are becoming more and more popular nowadays after the pressure for healthy living and eating organic food has risen. Thinking this way, one would now more than ever opt for organic food for its plants as well.
A good trait of this form is that it doesn’t cause mineral or chemical buildup which tends to happen with some other ones.
The most recommended option of organic fertilizer is worm castings that do wonders for your plants.
3. Water Soluble Fertilizer
As the word itself suggest, these fertilizers are liquid and are supposed to be dissolved in water and added or drained away from soil quite easily.
They usually offer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as well, and the minimal percentages they contain. Contrary to the balanced fertilizers, these kids don’t contain information on the exact amount, since companies don’t wish anyone to copy their products.
Besides these three most important elements, you will often see magnesium and Calcium listed as well. All of these are present in larger amounts as macronutrients, but these are also iron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper and several other ones that are less present as micronutrients.
The best way to apply this kind of fertilizer is to first apply the only ¼ to 1/3 of the instructed amount, every two weeks so your plant can adjust.
Applying much fertilizer, even the instructed amount out of nowhere can be quite a shock for your Triostar and burn its roots, causing much damage to it. This should give it enough time to adjust to it and after several applications, you can add more until you reach the recommended amount.
Stromanthe Triostar Pruning
As you may already know, pruning is the process of cutting and removing overgrown, dry or sick leaves and stems. This process is very important in the growth of any plant because it helps it grow better and stronger, without having to use much energy and nutrients for trying to feed those sick or half-dry segments.
Normally, your Triostar has a leaf turnover, because old ones get dry and fall off, while the new ones grow and replace them – it is a normal life cycle.
Thus, don’t be afraid to take the scissors or a sharp knife and get cut them off.
However, please make sure to use clean tools and disinfect them before the process, as your plant can get infected, especially if you are cutting the stem.
Just like you wouldn’t use anything that wasn’t previously cleaned on yourself, don’t do it on your plant either.
In case your plant is in a bad shape, feel free to remove all of the infected, yellow, brown or other unsightly leaves, but make sure it is not more than 1/3 of the foliage. After all, it is though leaves, that your plant feeds and grows.
Stromanthe Triostar Propagation
Triostar propagation is the process of breeding your plant that can be done in several ways depending on what plant you are growing.
When it comes to the Triostar propagation is done via division and this is an easy and quite successful process that will give you more beautiful baby plants!
The process is the following:
- Wear the gloves and disinfect the instrument: Before starting the process, please put your gloves on and make sure to use a clean knife or a pair of scissors than will not contaminate your plant.
- Remove the plant from the soil: It is now time to take the mother plant out of its pot to cut its rhizomes into several sections. It might be tricky to do this, especially if it has been in this space for a long time. If you are having trouble with It being stuck to the pot walls, take the knife and work your way around it, so the roots detach from the surface.
- Inspect the roots: Now is the perfect time to remove excess dirt off the roots and give them a thorough inspection. You should look for any soggy or infected parts and remove them.
- Separate rhizomes: This plant doesn’t have a regular root ball that you are probably picturing in your mind but a horizontal underground stem called “rhizome” that usually has several structured sections. Each one of them can produce new shoots and has a set of roots. You should take several, or as many depending on how many new plants you wish to have.
- Plant each rhizome: Each rhizome should be placed in a new pot that will be its home until it overgrows it. The level of soil should be the same as in the original pot.
- Place beside the mother plant: If this is a good and sunny spot, where the mother plant has thrived, it is where you should place these baby plants as well. They will need lots of filtered sunlight, warmth and some time to start shooting through the soil.
Repotting Stromanthe Triostar
Repotting is a common and necessary process that allows your plants to grow bigger, better and lusher because by doing it, you give them bigger pots and more space for their roots to grow.
Almost any plant benefits from this, especially those that grow fast. Now, the pace depends from plant to plant and might not even be needed for years.
The first time most people repot is when they purchase a baby plant in a tiny plastic container. After this, it all depends on the species.
When it comes to Triostar’s, re-potting is quite important!
Before you perform it, you should know that the best time for it is in the spring or summer, during the growing season.
1. Water your Triostar plant
Before starting the re-potting process, it is imperative that you water it thoroughly because water will allow it to cope with this stress much easier. Thus, never repot a plant with dry roots and prepare for the process several days before it.
2. Take the Plant out of the Pot
Just like during the propagation process, you need to take the whole plant out of the pot and this might be difficult it is stuck to the walls. Use a knife to detach it and don’t be afraid of cutting some root ends.
3. Move to the New Pot
Before doing so feel free to shake the excess dirt off the roots, however, it can hard because rhizomes’ root systems can be quite entangled. Move to the new pot previously filled up with the soil mix or a high-quality substrate and some clay in it.
Taking Care of Your Stromanthe Tricolor after Repotting
After repotting your plant will be quite sensitive and will need some time to adjust to its “new home” and recover from the suffered trauma.
Make sure to keep it in the same sunny and warm place and water it as you did before.
Please refrain from applying any fertilizer for several weeks after the process, as it can damage tender roots that are adjusting to the new surface.
Stromanthe Triostar Problems and Solutions
1. Stromanthe Triostar leaves turning yellow?
There are two possible answers – it is either that you keep overwatering it or more often than it is overfertilized. If your plant is changing colors rapidly after fertilization, it is almost sure that you overwhelmed it with chemicals and they need to be flushed. You should water it abundantly with purified water so all of the unneeded elements get drained.
2. Why isn’t my Triostar growing as fast after repotting?
This is a very common case with many plants that have undergone the transplantation process. The reason is that your Triostar needs some time to adjust to everything and will recuperate after several weeks. Afterward, the growth should continue normally.
3. Stromanthe Triostar Spider Mites?
There are several ways to get rid of these tiny pests: you can use rubbing alcohol and rub it over all over the plant, mix water and dish soap and then clean the plant with it or use a specific product for this- Botanical Pyrethrin.
1. Is Triostars poisonous?
No, this plant is luckily not poisonous and is thus perfectly safe to touch and doesn’t present any danger for your pets nor children.
2. Is direct light forbidden?
The answer should be yes, just because you shouldn’t get tempted to try it out. It is true, that your plants can resist some time in it without any damage, but no professional grower will advise you to do that. There is simply no need.
3. My Triostar is not blooming?
This is, unfortunately, a very rare sight if you are growing it indoors, as they seldom show flowers in such conditions. You shouldn’t worry about this.
After reading all of the information about proper watering, lightning, soil mix, fertilization process, propagation and other aspects of caring for your Stromanthe Triostar, I hope that you feel ready to grow it in your home.
I am sure it will brighten any space you place it and bring a breath of fresh air and touch of nature.