The genus Stromanthe contains only two species grown indoors. Their oval-oblong leaves are blunt-ended, but with a small pointed "tail." Each leaf is herringboned with darker markings from the central prominent vein. Both species have a creeping rhizome and produce fanlike sprays of leaves. New leaves are tightly rolled at first; they emerge from the stalks of older leaves.
RECOMMENDED STROMANTHES S. amabilis is of notably compact habit. Its leaves are 6-9 inches long and 2 inches wide, with gray-green bands on their green upper surfaces; the undersides are gray-green. S. sanguinea has glossy leaves up to 20 inches long and 6 inches wide. Their pale green upper surfaces have dark emerald green
markings spreading out from a wide, central, indented vein; the undersides are wine-purple.
Light Stromanthes like medium light. To avoid scorched foliage, keep them out of direct sunlight, especially during the summer months.
Temperature These plants need high humidity along with normal room temperatures. They are suitable plants for a terrarium.
Watering Water moderately at all times, allowing the top inch of the mixture to dry out between waterings.
Feeding Use half-strength standard liquid fertilizer once every two weeks from early spring to late fall.
Potting and repotting A peat-based potting mixture is best. Repot stromanthes only when top growth begins to extend beyond the edge of the containers; it is best done in late spring or summer. Shallow pots or pans are ideal for these plants.
Propagation Divide overcrowded clumps of leaves just as plants begin to make new growth. Carefully detach a section of rhizome bearing two or three leaves from the main rootstock and place it in a 2- or 3-inch pot of moistened peat-based potting mixture (with a little sand added). Enclose the whole in a plastic bag, and keep it in a warm place in medium light until roots have developed. Then remove the new plant from the bag and treat it as a mature stromanthe.
Special points Keep stromanthes out of drafts. S. amabilis is suitable for bottle gardens.
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