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The Ultimate Stromanthe Triostar Care Guide

The Stromanthe Triostar is pink, variegated and less of a drama queen compared to others in the Prayer Plant family (Marantaceae). What's not to love?! We give her an LTLC rating of 3 out of 5. No, not exactly easy care, but not (too) difficult either once you know what they love. Find out more below...

This gal has some identity issues. Her true cultivar is actually 'Triostar' but 'Tricolour' seems to be the more commonly used in NZ. Her full name is Stromanthe sanguinea 'Triostar'. However this is NOT the same plant as the Ctenanthe oppenheimiana 'Tricolour' (a variegated copy-cat). You can easily see the differences between Stromanthe Triostar and Ctenanthe Tricolour here > 

I've seen Stromanthe called Ctenanthe and vice versa. You'll also find her called a Calathea Tricolour or Calathea Triostar, but although Calathea and Stromanthe are relations from the same Maranta family, she's not a Calathea, and Calathea Tricolour or Calathea Triostar don't actually exist.  


Ideal temperature and light range for Stromanthe Triostar

Find this beauty a warm, brightly lit spot. She's not a huge fan of the cold but more tolerant than other prayer plants. Stick to above 15 degrees if you can overnight. Although they can put up with down to 5 degrees provided all other conditions are okay, I wouldn't risk it myself. Best kept warm, 18 to 27 degrees during the day is ideal for the Stromanthe Triostar.

Like other prayer plants, she'll move her leaves a lot! I love this about them. Towards and away from the light during the day, and sometimes even folded up at night, exposing those hot pink undersides. Bright indirect light is the way to go - and the more light you give her the more variegation you'll usually get in return - but no direct light or those delicate leaves could burn fast.


What soil's best for Stromanthe Triostar? 

An airy, free-draining soil will do the job nicely, about 1/2 to 3/4 potting mix and 1/2 to 1/4 free draining substrate like succulent mix, hydromixperlite or pumice all work well. If you're an over-waterer, add more perlite or similar in your mix. My current go-to is an easy 3/4 succulent potting mix, 1/4 perlite. I'm going to try an aroid mix next time I repot as it sounds perfect for Stromanthe's requirements.

Unless she's in an utterly dreadful substrate, it's best not to re-pot her for at least a fortnight or so when you bring your Stromanthe Triostar home. I find they need a bit of TLC when you first bring them home as they can take longer to adjust than other plants. Let her settle in and perk back up first. She may pack a sad and droop those leaves for a while. Find her somewhere warm with plenty of bright, indirect light, and she'll come right. Same after you repot them. I find they suffer more than most from a bit of transplant stress following repotting.


What are the watering needs for the Stromanthe Triostar? 

Lightly moist or slightly damp is preferred. Definitely avoid wet feet or soggy soil or you'll risk the dreaded root rot. A good full drench and drain about once weekly in summer, and every couple of weeks or so in winter is about right, but there's no set rule so always judge it based on your conditions and her soil.

I water when the first couple of cm's or so is dry. Water more often when she's growing, when it's warm, and when in bright conditions. Don't overwater, and don't let Stromanthe Triostar completely dry out either. You'll soon see dry edges and crispy tips develop if left dry too long. Find a happy, moist, middle ground. It sounds like a juggling act but you'll quickly get used to knowing when to water yours.


Are Stromanthe Triostar pet safe? 

Yes! It feels so nice to say yes for once to this question. Stromanthe are pet safe and non toxic to animals and humans.


Stromanthe Triostar pro tips & problem solving

Keeping a Stromanthe alive isn't difficult, but keeping her looking good can be. If the conditions aren't great, those lovely variegated areas can quickly turn yellow or brown, and edges can go crispy.


Why does my Stromanthe Triostar have brown crispy leaves and leaf tips? 

Humidity is your friend! Provided you're not underwatering, or letting her go completely dry between watering, brown or crispy tips or edges is a common sign your Stromanthe needs more humidity. Not much of an issue in a typical humid NZ summer, but a humidifer in Winter is absolutely worth it, especially if you have a fire, heat pump, or DVS / HRV that can all dry out the air. I run one of those cordless H2O plant humidifiers all year round for my girls.

If you're not sure if it's a humidity issue causing your brown, crispy tips and leaf edges, but don't want to invest in a humidifier just yet, get one of those cheap little mini hygrometers first instead so you can check what's going on. You want to maintain humidity at least above 50% for these girls to be their happiest, best looking selves.


Why does my Stromanthe Triostar have yellow leaves?

Like most plant drama, yellow leaves could be due to a few factors, but with the Stromanthe I find it typically relates to water. Often from over-watering or inconsistent watering (letting her go too dry too long between watering). Wet feet is a no-no for Stromanthe, so let all that water drain out before returning her to her saucer or cover pot, and keep her evenly moist rather than too dry, or too soggy or wet. Root rot is a risk from over-watering these girls.    

Water quality can also cause yellowing or spotting. Stromanthe can be sensitive to chemicals in tap water. Easy fixes: use filtered water, or just leave water out overnight to let the chlorine disperse. If you have a fish tank (or need an excuse to get one), this is your girl. She'll love that high-nitrate, chlorine-free fish water.

Definitely do fertilise your Stromanthe Triostar. They tend to be light feeders, but that doesn't mean no food at all! I'd look for an NPK fertiliser that says it's formulated for indoor plants, ideally one that's urea free for extra protection from fertiliser burn. I'm having great success with a combo of half strength Foliage Pro combined with 1/4 strength Groconut for my own Stromanthe collection. Foliage Pro is a ure-free NPK fertiliser, whereas Groconut is a growth booster, so for an easy routine, look for a complete fertiliser and skip the growth booster. Other popular NPK options are the Plant Runner Indoor Plant Food.


Why do my Stromanthe Triostar leaves have 'wet patches'?

See that darker pink patch below? at the bottom of the front leaf? No idea what you call that, but that freaked me out the first time it happened. Turns out that's what happens when a leaf has been over-saturated by water. It's only happened once to my Stromanthe gang and for me it was when I'd accidentally got the leaves too wet when watering. It dried out slowly and came back to normal by the end of the same day. I hear it can also happen from over-saturating the soil, so the roots try to get rid of excess water through the leaf cells. 

Photo from Behnke Nurseries.


LTLC Rating (Love That Leaf Care Rating) for the Stromanthe Triostar

We rate the Stromanthe Triostar a 3 out of 5
We know some green thumbs might scoff and find a level 5 plant easy, while somehow managing to kill a level 1 plant, so take this as a guide only, based on our experience in local conditions here in New Zealand.

We give her a 3 mainly because of her higher humidity requirements and tendency to go crispy, but if you have a humidifier, or a naturally high humidity, she'll be fine. 
Here are a few examples at either end of the LTLC scale to compare:

Level 1: Snake Plant, Ponytail Palm, ZZ Plant, Peace Lily  
Level 2: African Violet, most Philodendron
Level 5: String of Pearls, Maidenhair Fern, Boston Fern 

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