Stromanthe amabilis

Stromanthe is one of the Maranta family and is prized for its clumps of striking green leaves, which have a herringbone pattern on top and contrasting undersides.

Stromanthes grow from rhizomes and are evergreen. Along with the Marantas, Stromanthe comes from the tropical parts of America. However, direct sun causes the leaf colour to fade. Stromanthe enjoys a high humidity and a warm room temperature. Spray daily on hot days.

The cultivated varieties are low-growing unless they are planted in a large container. They should be watered moderately and fed with liquid fertilizer every 14 days during the growing period.

The leaves are oblong with a small pointed tail at the square end, forming fan-like sprays.

The compact Stromanthe amabilis has leaves 30cm (12in) long with a green and grey herringbone pattern on the upper side and grey or red beneath. The glossy leaves of S. sanguinea grow up to 50cm (20in) long with a deep central vein. The upper sides are pale and =4 dark green with purple beneath.Stromanthe amabilis


Overcrowded plants should be divided and repotted in spring just as the plant is beginning to make new growth. Use a slightly moist peat-based compost with a little sand mixed in.

1 Put drainage crocks and a little compost in some 8cm (3in) pots.

2 Remove the old plant from its pot and carefully scrape compost away from roots. Gently tease apart the roots to separate the rhizomes, taking care to leave two or three good stems on each clump.

3 Repot each small clump, filling the pot with compost to cover all the roots but not pressing in too firmly.

4 Enclose in a ventilated polythene bag and keep it in a warm shady place for a few days to encourage roots to grow.

5 Take off the bag and water from top of pot as usual. Plants need water when compost is light and crumbly.

Pests And Diseases

Leaves are scorched or discoloured. This indicates too much direct sunlight.

Treatment: Move plant into the shade.

If leaves shrivel the air is too dry.

Treatment: Damp compost slightly and spray leaves.

If lower leaves turn yellow and others are curled and spotted the plant is probably being underwatered.

Treatment: Do not let the compost dry out between waterings.

If the growth becomes stunted and the leaf tips are brown and dry then the air is too dry and there is the risk of an attack of red spider mite.

Treatment: Mist the leaves regularly and remove dead leaves.


This plant is one of the easiest of the Maranta family to care for, but it does need correct conditions and treatment.

  • Potting: Repot in spring every 2 years, dividing the roots if the leaves are overcrowded. Use peat-based compost mixed with a little sand.
  • Water moderately 2 or 3 times a week in summer, using rainwater if possible. Always keep the compost moist, even in winter. Spray the leaves daily in summer.
  • Feeding: Feed once every two weeks with liquid fertilizer throughout the summer.


  • Light: Do not place in direct sunlight as this plant is happiest in the shade.
  • Temperature: Normal room temperature with high humidity is needed. The minimum winter temperatures should be 13°C (55°F), although Stromanthe will survive a couple of degrees lower than this.

Buying Tips

  • Available from nurseries and garden centres at all times. Examine closely as Stromanthe is sometimes sold under the names Maranta and Calathea.
  • Choose a plant that is bright and healthy with no dried or withered leaves.
  • This plant will survive for many years if you can find the right place for it. Divide roots at least every 3 years to keep the stock vigorous and provide replacement plants.

Stromanthe makes a very handsome house plant with its spectacular foliage. It prefers shade so is extremely useful for decorating sunless rooms.

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