The Triostar Stromanthe, or Stromanthe sanguinea, is a stunning, leafy houseplant that looks like it’s been hand-painted with strokes of deep green, brilliant pink, and cream. Its long, paddle-shaped leaves change configuration during the day and night, and I often hear the distinct crackle of one of its leaves unfurling to reveal a new, completely unique tri-colored pattern.
If you’ve thought about bringing a Triostar Stromanthe into your space, you likely already know that it has a reputation for being a “tricky” houseplant. Fortunately, I haven’t found this to be the case, and with these 6 tips, I’m confident you won’t either:
1. Make your living space tropical.
The Triostar Stromanthe is native to the Brazilian rainforest, so it thrives in warmth and humidity. I live near the ocean, so my apartment is naturally quite humid, but there are easy ways to create humidity for your Stromanthe, even if you live somewhere dry. First, don’t underestimate the power of a bathroom. The warmth and steam from frequent showers can moisten the air nearby, so placing your Stromanthe in or near a bathroom can simulate a humid rainforest environment. If your bathroom is already overflowing with plants and you just don’t have the room for your new addition, you can also lightly mist its leaves with a spray bottle. If possible, mist in the morning and wait several days for the leaves to dry completely between mistings. This will prevent mold and fungus from growing on your Stromanthe’s leaves.
2. Sunlight is good, in moderation.
I learned this one the hard way. I’m lucky, and my apartment has huge south-facing windows that absolutely bake the back room in sunlight for most of the day. This is where I work, so naturally I put all my favorite plants in that room. A few days after moving my Stromanthe into my office, I noticed the edges of its leaves turning crisp and brown. It was literally burning in the sun. As I thought more about this, it made perfect sense. In the rainforest, the Triostar Stromanthe sits below the tree canopy, so indirect, bright light, like the tropical sun filtering through a canopy of rainforest leaves, suits it better than aggressive, direct southern sunlight. You can simulate this rainforest-floor light by placing your Triostar Stromanthe in a bright room in your house, outside the direct path of the sun.
3. This plant is thirsty, and it will tell you so.
I keep my Triostar Stromanthe in a room I’m in every day specifically so I can watch its leaves and soil and avoid needing to adhere to a strict watering schedule. I mostly watch the top of the soil, especially near the walls of its pot. When that topsoil appears to slightly peel away from the edges, this means the soil is dry and it’s time to generously water. A goose neck watering can helps here, so you can access the base of the plant and avoid pouring water on its leaves, which will instantly redirect that water onto your floor. In a fairly humid apartment in a bright sunroom, I end up watering my Triostar Stromanthe about once every three days. And I don’t mean “watering” in the dainty sense. I take my dog’s huge bowl of leftover water and dump it near the base of the plant, until the soil is dark and fully saturated. If any water seeps out onto its drip tray, I’ll dump it in the sink to prevent root rot.
4. It’s Fido-approved.
Speaking of the dog… My puppy loves to nibble on my plants when I’m not watching, so finding pet-safe plants has been critical for me. While I still protect my painted beauty from my pup’s grazing, the Triostar Stromanthe is safe for him, in the event he gets to it before I get to him.
5. Spring is go-time.
I’ve repotted my Stromanthe once since I bought it 5 years ago, and made the “mistake” of relocating it to a pot that looked far too wide and shallow. General guidance says to size up 1-2” in diameter every time you repot a plant, but my new indigo pot exceeded that guidance by about 4”. Fortunately, this hasn’t deterred my Triostar Stromanthe from explosive growth, partially, I think, because I’m conservative about watering it. To avoid the same misstep, plan on repotting your Triostar Stromanthe every couple years in the spring or early summer, when it’s naturally inclined to adapt to change. Choose a pot that’s about 2” wider in diameter than the one it’s currently in.
6. Don’t sleep on it.
The Triostar Stromanthe is part of the prayer plant family, which is characterized by a charming quirk: at night, their leaves fold together, resembling a pair of praying hands. Friends have described this behavior slightly differently, dubbing my Triostar Stromanthe my “Party Plant.” Every night, its leaves shoot skyward, resembling a crowd of concert goers with their arms raised. To enjoy your Triostar Stromanthe fully, with all its diurnal rhythms, put it in a room that you spend time in in the evening. You won’t be disappointed.
With warmth, bright, indirect sunlight, and frequent watering, the Triostar Stromanthe will become a proud centerpiece in your home. Especially if you’re like me – lazy about hanging pictures and paintings – this beauty is the perfect living art for your space.