Variegated ornaments of stromants
Stromancer, one of the most beautiful representatives of the Marantov family, is called a beauty with a difficult character by no means accidentally. And the point here is not only that this room culture needs to provide complex care and strictly control the growing conditions. Stromantha is constantly changing, I want to watch endlessly for its metamorphoses and leaf movements invisible to the eye. Either lifting the leaves upward, or arranging them horizontally, or even hiding the beauty of the patterns and “substituting” the other side for the eyes, the stromantha always remains in motion and is actively changing. And it is worth all the effort: luxurious leaf patterns, beautiful graphic lines, the bold beauty of the plant are so spectacular that the stromantha can become the first star in any collection.
Spectacular graphics and the complex nature of stromants
How can I not call this Morant - stromantha or stromante (stromanthe) - to confuse it with other plants is difficult. Despite some similarities with calathea, a stromant stands out even against its background. A variegated evergreen plant of compact size, in which every detail of greenery is beautiful, spectacular, catchy and in many ways daring in appearance combines its complex character with a far from standard appearance. Maranta resembles either birds, or stylish ornaments.
In a room culture, dozens of natural species of stromantes are superseded by beautiful hybrids and varieties of a single species - blood red stromants (stromanthe sanguinea) According to modern botanical classifications, it is more correctly attributed to the species stromantha waist (stromanthe thalia), but with us this official name is almost unknown.
Description of stromants
Stromants are herbaceous perennials that create an elegant sod of large leaves sitting on long stalks. The height of the stromantha waist ranges from 40 to 100 cm. Low, often almost completely reduced, multi-branched shoots in the bushes are practically not visible, it seems that the stromantha bushes are formed only by the mass of leaves. Obovate, oval-lanceolate, leaves of this beauty in length reach 35 cm.
The color of the plant is largely non-standard. The purple or brownish tone of the petioles and the monotonous matte color of the back side of the leaf plates repeating it is combined with variegated patterns on the upper side. The base color of leaves is muffled green, often closer to olive or swamp, and asymmetrical spots of pink, cream, white, light green with different shapes and sizes give it a graphic and bright. In this case, the tone of the reverse side of the sheet sometimes beats off in separate spots and as if “creeps” upward, or maybe does not repeat at all and only contrasts with greenery.
Variegated patterns resemble feathers, then needles on sprigs of fir, then ornaments of modern impressionists. The texture of the leaves is also unusual: they appear satin or velvet, as if made of luxurious fabric. Whichever side the plant unfolds its leaves towards you, it will please with attractiveness. And the ability to change position, “move” leaves and further emphasize the contrast of red and green in stromanthus is truly unique. But the matter is not at all in a special whimsical character, but in sun exposure. Leaves the plant always directs towards the sun. True, it is not easy to detect sun-dependence in stromants: sometimes it seems that there is no system at all in the “behavior” of a stromant (the position is affected by temperature, air flows, its slightest fluctuations). But be that as it may, the leaves are constantly moving, shifting, changing tilt and angle, then turning horizontally, then "closing" vertically, dropping lower or moving up. Most often, it is impossible to notice this movement, except for a slight noise when the leaves touch. Thanks to this talent, the stromant is constantly being transformed, updated, every day looks a little different, updated and subtly changed.
The flowering of stromants is often not even noticed, and completely in vain. Despite its status as a decorative foliage plant, flowering in this plant is also very attractive. Small cup-shaped flowers with reddish or white bracts of an unusual shape exude an intense aroma and are collected in elegant panicles of inflorescences. All stromants bloom at different times, more often in February or spring, but some varieties bloom in summer. True, this beauty has a significant drawback: a fragrant miracle adorns the bushes, but leads to the fact that the stromantha loses its attractiveness of leaves, the bushes become rare and fall apart, the plant slows down in growth and is poorly restored. Therefore, many flower growers prefer to abandon the pleasure of enjoying fragrant inflorescences in favor of the constant decorativeness of stromants.
Varieties of blood red stromants
The best varieties of blood red stromants include:
- "Triostar" with bright, almost white large spots at the top of the plate and rich wine color of the lower side and cuttings;
- “Stripe Star” is a bright purple beauty, on the upper side of the leaves of which bright asymmetric stripes shine brightly along the central vein;
- "Multicolor" with light green and white spots and erosion on a dark background of plates and a burgundy red turn;
- Hortikolor with olive yellow spots;
- "Maroon" with a central light vein, watercolor turning into dark edges and a dazzling turn.
be careful: under the name "pleasant stromantha" (stromanthe amabilis), the pleasant ctenant (ctenanthe amabilis) continues to be distributed, which has long been classified as belonging to a different genus that does not belong to stromants. This plant is compact and limited to a height of only 25 cm with wide-oval leaves up to 20 cm long with a light surface, decorated with almost Christmas-tree dark patterns and a silver back.
Growing and caring for stromantas at home
Stromancers are exotic and bewitching beauties, but the beauties are very moody. It is no coincidence that they are so often recommended to grow them in mini-greenhouses, flower showcases, florariums, terrariums, conservatories and greenhouses, and not in living rooms. Yes, and under the power of growing stromants only experienced gardeners. But this does not mean at all that it is better to refuse them and you should be afraid of all possible problems. This sissy really loves neither coolness, nor drafts, nor low humidity. But it does not require special wintering conditions and, if you get really high-quality care, and you will also constantly monitor the conditions, the stromantha will become a star of the first magnitude in the interior of your house. And perfectly fit into the collection of other indoor plants. The effectiveness and beauty of the variegated leaves of the stromantha is “undeniable”, it is so bright that it is not afraid of the proximity to even the most catchy flowering exotics.
Lighting for stromants
Despite all its sun exposure, the stromant does not at all need the brightest location under the bright rays of the sun. Moreover, direct light only harms the plant, and the sun's rays leave burns, the leaves are curled and poorly restored. But the rest of the requirements for lighting stromant will pleasantly surprise with unpretentiousness. She does not like only sunny locations and shadows, and she will cope with any other mode perfectly.
A diffused bright place will suit the stromant as well as partial shade, and uneven-shady lighting with differences in the level of illumination, and a place in the interior with artificial lighting. The main thing is not to go beyond the framework of average indicators and not go to extremes. There is one significant exception to this rule: varieties of blood-red stromants, which have multi-colored spots on the leaves (more than 2 shades of spots) are light-dependent and will lose their characteristic color in partial shade. Such stromants can only grow in diffused bright light.
In winter, lighting is not adjusted for stromants, with the exception of variegated varieties, which like great stability of conditions (it is better to specify the parameter when buying a plant). In this case, the stromants are moved to a slightly more lighted place to compensate for the seasonal features.
One of the most unusual qualities of stromants is extreme heat loving. These plants not only love warm conditions, but are also very afraid of any changes in their comfortable environment, and even more so, cooling. The lower limit of permissible temperatures is 20 degrees from spring to autumn and 18 degrees in winter. In cooler conditions, even for a very short period, stromants cannot be kept. But the upper limit is much more “blurred”: stromants are not afraid of heat and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius. It is better to maintain stable, warm, room conditions unchanged throughout the year or in the summer to keep the stromant in a warmer environment, and in winter - at a temperature of about 20 degrees. But it’s better to direct the main efforts specifically to stability, preventing sharp changes in indicators, smoothly lowering and raising temperatures without jumps.
Stromants are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. They can not stand not only drafts (and especially cold drafts) but also any contrast between the temperatures of the substrate and air, the surfaces and materials of walls and window sills. These plants can not be placed near heating appliances, air conditioners, on the floor, near glass or walls, in any other place where temperature fluctuations can occur. In any case, the stromantha is not taken out into the fresh air and is not placed in rooms constantly ventilated in the summer.
Watering and humidity
In order to find the ideal irrigation regimen for stromants, one should be patient and rely on constant monitoring. Despite the general requirements, in fact, each individual plant needs its own irrigation frequency (temperature, light exposure, and other factors can affect it). The main goal is to keep the soil moisture stable, to prevent either drying out or overmoistening the soil in the pot. A landmark indicating the need for the following procedure is the drying of the topsoil. Stable soil moisture is maintained throughout the year, only in the winter making the procedures more moderate and rare in accordance with lower rates of moisture evaporation. But it is always better to focus on the degree of soil drying. Another feature is that the water that appears in the pallets needs to be drained as quickly as possible.
But it is much more difficult than constantly monitoring soil moisture and providing air humidity that is comfortable for stromants. This plant, at the slightest deviation from the conditions of high humidity, begins to suffer from the drying of the ends of the leaves and releases ever smaller and more nondescript leaves. For this culture, an air humidity of 85-90% is ideal, that is, indicators that can be recreated only in flower showcases and their analogues. But in indoor conditions, the stromant will be content with indicators as close as possible to this norm, at least 60-70%. If you install humidifiers near the stromantha or put the pot on a tray with wet pebbles, moss, expanded clay so that the bottom does not touch the water, you can create a basis for optimal humidity. Complementing the humidifier with frequent sprayings, you will create a stromanthe no less comfortable environment than in the florarium or greenhouse. Spray daily or more often, regardless of the season, using finely dispersed nozzles to evenly disperse moisture and distribute it across the sheet plates.
For stromants, only settled water with soft indicators is used, strictly controlling its temperature: the water should be slightly warmer than the air around the plant, 2-4 degrees warmer than the substrate.
Nutrition for stromants
Despite all its capriciousness and exactingness, the stromant does not require over-nutritious soils and intensive top dressing. Fertilizers for this plant need to be careful: excessive feeding can cause serious health problems. They fertilize for a limited period of time, only from May to the end of August. And the frequency of top dressing should not exceed 1 procedure in 14 days. The fertilizer dose recommended by the manufacturer should be halved.
For stromants, it is best to choose special fertilizer mixtures for decorative leafy plants or universal fertilizers with additional trace elements. If you can find it, get fertilizers for arrowroot.
In fact, pruning this plant comes down only to removing peduncles so that the decorativeness of sods and leaves is not disturbed. As soon as the first signs of the release of flower stems appear, it is better to remove them early, preventing blooming.
Transplant, containers and substrate
In order for the stromant to develop normally, it must be planted in very light earth mixtures. The loose soil texture for stromants is just as important as acidity (it does not tolerate alkaline and even slightly calcareous soils). The best substrates for this indoor plant are ready-made substrates for arrowroot, rhododendrons, or at least palm trees or a mixture based on foliage soil, to which 1/3 dose of peat, humus, coniferous earth and sand and a small amount of charcoal are added.
The stromant is transplanted not by growth rate, but annually regardless of age. The procedure is best done not in February or early March, but in April-May. The stromantum is transferred to a large container with a new layer of high drainage. If there is nowhere to increase the capacity, then the plant is divided and planted in smaller pots.
The transplant procedure is carried out carefully, trying not to contact the rhizome and not destroy the main earthen coma. Even when dividing into several parts, it is better to carefully cut the sods or divide them by hand, without freeing all the roots from the soil. The depth level is slightly reduced, the plant is placed deeper than in the previous container.
Specific pots are chosen for stromants - wide, but as low as possible, allowing the plant to grow in breadth and grow a sod (corresponding to a short, superficial rhizome). When planting in pots, the height of which exceeds the width, the plant suffers from rot and dampness.
Diseases and pests of stromants
Stromantha combines moodiness with a fairly good resistance to disease. Problems on the plant appear only if the correct care regimen is violated. Too cold conditions and dampness can cause rotting of the roots and stems, and low humidity - the spread of spider mites (especially red) and scale insects. It is better to deal with any problem immediately with insecticides and fungicides, supplementing them if necessary with mechanical treatment, manual removal of insects (or trimming of damaged parts).
Common problems in cultivating stromants:
- drying of the tips of the leaves, the appearance of brown spots with low humidity;
- rotting of the stems and wilting of the leaves when damp or in the cold;
- curl of leaves - dryness or direct sunlight;
- discoloration to brown, discoloration and yellowing of leaves without changing texture with excessive top dressing;
- loss of mottled color in low or excessive light.
Propagation of Stromanthus
On an industrial scale, stromants are propagated both vegetatively and by seed.But the latter is not very suitable for home breeding: seeds rarely ripen (and only when you sacrifice decorative plants in favor of flowering), they are almost absent on sale, and seeding itself requires two stratifications and difficult conditions. Therefore, preference is best given to a simple method of dividing bushes and apical cuttings.
Separation of stromants can be performed at each transplant. A quick way of dividing each adult bush into 2-3 sods allows you to get young plants that quickly adapt to new conditions, subject to the choice of not too large capacity. After planting, for stromants, it is necessary to maintain a very high humidity, partial shaded location and prevent the drying of an earthen coma. You can put the plant under the hood.
Cutting is not much more complicated. The apical cuttings cut off in spring or early summer (the cut is made under the second or third leaf, or rather the place where the leaf cuttings are attached to the stem) are well rooted even in water, but they must be placed under a cap or film.
Some varieties produce at the ends of shoots daughter leaf sockets that can be rooted in a substrate under a cap.