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Stromanthe Sanguinea Care

Stromanthe sanguinea or stromanthe tricolor is a slow-growing, a perennial tropical plant indigenous to the rainforests of Brazil and is part of the Marantaceae (prayer plant) family. It’s also known as Stromanthe Triostar or just Triostar. 

It is becoming popular as an indoor plant due to its magnificent variegated foliage and since it is cold tolerant. Its leaves are glossy and thick, with uneven variegations of pink, cream, and green above and maroon or burgundy underneath. 

The variegation is considerably varied, with a few plants (or some leaves) being cream in color, while others having varying widths of green bands, or almost totally green with a few streaks of cream with pink/ burgundy stalks. 

The leaves are 6-12 inches long, arising on long stalks from the top of the plant, each having a mechanical contrivance (pulvinus) to orient it away or towards the sun. Like other plants in the prayer plant genus, they also fold at night, displaying their maroon/burgundy undersides. 

They turn to the east in the morning to catch the morning sun but move to an upright position during midday to prevent them from being exposed to intense sun. The stems grow almost 6 feet high in ideal conditions but usually remain short (18-30 inches), particularly when grown in pots. 

It rarely produces flowers when grown indoors, however, in its natural habitat, it blooms with clusters of pink or white flowers bounded by bracts of orange-red which turn reddish-pink as they get matured. These can be seen sometimes on plants growing in greenhouses.

It can be cultivated outdoors under humid tropical conditions, but needs to be shaded during the afternoon and should be sheltered from strong winds. The plant’s growth period is from spring and summer and becomes dormant in winter.

Regrettably, this is not a plant for new gardeners as it is quite challenging to keep it growing well and is more suited to experienced gardeners due to meeting their specific care, wants, and needs. 

Bees and Hummingbirds are the main pollinators in their natural habitat.

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Sunlight

This plant ideally needs indirect bright sunlight to maintain its variegation and growth. Turn the plant every week to ensure the leaves grow evenly. The leaves will turn completely green when the plant doesn’t get sufficient light. The leaves can get sunburned if exposed to direct sun.

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Water

It enjoys damp soil but does not like getting water-logged. It needs watering when the topsoil turns dry. Water it thoroughly, allowing surplus water to drain away. Reduce watering in winter when it becomes dormant. Too much water will initiate root rot.

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Humidity

This plant likes to have an average/high humidity level, with a minimum of 50% – this will help in maintaining soil moisture at an optimum level. Mist it every day to boost the humidity to a desirable level. If this doesn’t help, consider running a humidifier near the plant or keep a humidity tray nearby. 

Growing it in your kitchen or bathroom will also help resolve humidity issues since these rooms are usually the most humid in a house.

Very dry conditions will make the plant turn brown and make the leaves become crispy and dry. Air conditioning, dry heat, or drafts must also be avoided.

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Temperature

The preferred temperature range is between 65-80°F. While it can handle a low of 40°F, it isn’t recommended for an extended period since it is a tropical native and might suffer damage to its leaves.

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Soil

It prefers light soil that is well-draining yet still holds some moisture. A mix of equal parts of perlite and regular soil will also work, with the perlite helping to aerate the soil and preventing the plant from getting water-logged. The soil should be moist but not retain water since root-rot is one of the main reasons for damaging and even killing the plant.

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Repotting

Repot the plant when its roots start outgrowing the current one, usually when the plant is in its active growing period. It is normally cultivated in shallow pots but can grow in any container with sufficient drainage holes. The plant doesn’t have to be repotted often, only when its roots begin to grow out of the pot. Use a fresh lot of light soil that drains well yet still holds some moisture.

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Propagation

It is usually propagated from rhizome division or seeds (difficult to obtain) but is faster and more dependable with rhizome division. Just prior to the new growing period beginning after winter, separate the rhizomes that have two or three leaves attached. 

Replant these divisions in suitable containers with light soil that dries well and care for the new plants as normal. You will know that new roots have set in when new growth begins to appear.

Additional Care

Feed it with a liquid fertilizer once monthly during its growing period when winter ends. Dilute the fertilizer to only ½ strength before applying. Do not fertilize during the winter season when it becomes dormant as it may suffer from root burn. 

Prune the plant when needed, removing discolored or damaged leaves from the plant’s base. This includes any minor imperfections that are unsightly or dry, removing less than 30% of its leaves at any time as it is a slow grower and doesn’t produce new shoots in a hurry. 

Common Problems

The most common issue this plant might experience is mostly to do with its humidity likes and dislikes. Fungal infections and root rot can also affect the plant, usually connected to watering issues or incorrect soil mixes. Make sure to maintain proper levels of humidity and never over-water the plant. Apart from these, they tend to do very well against almost any other disease. 

Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids might attract the plant, particularly in low humidity conditions. Severe incidents of an infestation can be easily prevented if you continuously monitor and inspect the plant. Suitable pesticides and fungicides can be utilized whenever necessary.

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