Calathea’s Better Behaved Relative

Stromanthe (or ctenanthe) tricolor

This is a plant whose taxonomy keeps changing. I know it as stromanthe tricolor. But I believe that it is now known as a ctenanthe, which is a genus with a couple of plants at least.

Whatever you choose to call it, it is truly stunning and very easy to grow.

Like its calathea relatives (again, calatheas, marantas, ctenanthes are all treated as loosely related. I don’t have the true knowledge to explain all of that!), it likes indirect light and relatively moist soil, although it is not so fussy if it dries out occasionally.

It is definitely not fussy about humidity. I keep this plant in my den, in a northwest window. So it is cold, dark and dry. And it survives just fine every year with only occasional browning of the outer leaf tips. That could be from the lack of humidity, it could be from our chlorinated water, or it could be because it’s cold. My den will drop into the upper 50s overnight on winter nights. This plant is just fine with that.

So if you love colorful leaves but are afraid that the calatheas are too finicky for you, try this plant instead. You will not be sorry!

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