It Had Me at Hello!

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Have you ever been strolling through a garden center and spotted an amazingly cool, completely gorgeous plant that you JUST HAD TO HAVE?

Stromanthe sanguinea “Triostar” had me at “hello” and I knew I couldn’t leave without it.  To call it “striking” is an understatement.  The tops of its large, tropical-looking oblong leaves have irregular dark green and creamy white stripes, while the bottoms of the leaves are (wait for it, wait for it) MAGENTA!  Wow!

Hardy in Zones 9 to 11, it’s quite happy living as a houseplant; growing well in indirect, bright light.  Mine is in a northern window which receives reflective light from the concrete driveway below.

Its growth habit displays both the green / white side and the magenta side, putting up leaves which are arranged in a fan shape at the bottom and then spread gracefully.  Growth is slow, but steady…in the right growing conditions, it may need to be lifted from its pot, divided and re-potted in a few years (it can also be propagated by division, if you feel like sharing).

Occasionally, mine puts up round stalks, perhaps 3/8 inch in diameter and two to three feet tall. These stalks will grow more leaves at the top.  I wonder if I planted the mother plant in soil instead of a pot, would these stalks droop down to the ground and take root?   If I didn’t fear rabbits, voles and deer so much, I’d try transplanting it into the garden for the summer.  As it is, I tie up the tall stalks with stakes and panty hose (my go-to for a gentle, durable and readily available fabric).

Like most plants, it’s growing conditions really matter.  One of my plants is in a plastic pot and the other is in an unglazed clay pot.  Both plants are growing side by side in the same window and both have drainage dishes underneath them.  The plant in the plastic pot grows faster and is larger. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves, but the more bright, indirect light it receives, the more colorful and variegated the leaves get.   Too much watering, its roots might rot; too little watering and its leaves will yellow, turn brown and curl up.

It needs more humidity than the average house can provide – you’ll know the humidity is too low when the leaf tips turn brown.  Pebble trays with water under the pots can help; so, can grouping several plants together so they all can contribute a bit of humidity.  When the leaf tips turn brown, I simply trim off the brown parts with a pair of sharp scissors – it makes the plant look better and it makes me feel better.  When a leaf is dying or too tattered to be attractive, clip it off at the base.  This will prompt the plant to put up a new leaf.

As for fertilizing, a light sprinkle of Osmocote does fine.

IF you decide you simply HAVE TO HAVE this plant and want to search for it, it is also called “Stromanthe tricolor” and is a relative of the prayer plant.

Have fun and as always,

Stay Green, Good Friends!


Meet Dona Bergman

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