Cryptanthus Bromeliads are a rather funky looking houseplant with stiff, slightly coarse leaves. Also known as Earth stars due to their interesting shape, they are available in countless colorful and less colorful varieties. As an added bonus, they are not too difficult to care for at all when provided with the right conditions!
Keep reading to find out how to care for and grow Earth stars in your own home.
|Moderate||Indirect light||Keep moist||Moisture retaining|
Cryptanthus Bromeliads have some rather specific care requirements, but these are not too difficult to figure out if we look at the natural growing environment. Unlike most other Bromeliad types, these Earth stars (as the name suggests) are not epiphytic but terrestrial, meaning they grow in soil instead of attached to trees. They are naturally found on rainforest floors in Brazil.
Cryptanthus location and temperature
Because Earth stars naturally occur on rainforest floors, they will appreciate similar conditions in your home.
- A moist environment is appreciated: if you have some space in your bathroom, kitchen or even a greenhouse, it will be much easier to provide moisture this plant needs. If there is no such location available, this plant also does well in plant terrariums.
- Forest floors don’t naturally receive a lot of sunlight, as most of it is blocked out by larger trees, so direct sun is not needed for Earth stars and will actually cause burn damage. A place with plenty of indirect light, such as a North-facing window, is a much better option.
- Unless you live in a very moderate climate, Earth stars are strictly indoor plants as they do best at room temperature. Try to avoid extremely low or high temperatures!
As discussed above, Earth star Bromeliads will thrive in humid environments that simulate their natural rainforest habitat. Keeping them in a relatively moist environment is a good idea.
- Their preference for humid locations make Earth stars the perfect choice for a plant terrarium. This can mean anything from an actual terrarium to a cookie jar such as this one, as long as it’s able to keep moisture inside.
- Don’t go for a container that’s too small: Cryptanthus root systems can grow quite large, so a relatively wide planter is recommended.
- When it comes to soil, it’s all about balance. Like many rainforest plants, Earth stars love soil that can maintain high moisture levels but don’t like standing in water all the time. A regular potting soil with Sphagnum moss should be fine, though it’s a good idea to also mix in some sand or perlite. Be sure to avoid anything that says “fast draining”!
As should probably be clear by now, Earth star Bromeliads prefer to be kept relatively moist. However, care should still be taken to avoid overwatering them – they do rot when water is allowed to stand in the container for too long! There is no set watering schedule; you can water when you notice the soil starting to dry out.
If you’re using a regular pot with a drainage hole, you can help keep your Earth star’s moisture level up by placing it on a humidity tray with some pebbles and a layer of water. This allows the plant to slowly soak up the water during the course of the day.
During the growing season, Earth stars will definitely appreciate some fertilizer. Any diluted, balanced fertilizer should work well. Feeding once a week or whenever you water is a good place to start.
If you notice your Earth star(s) blooming, they will unfortunately die soon. No need to worry, though. After the plant has finished blooming you should see small pups appear. Once these clones of the mother plant have some leaves of their own, you can remove and replant them. This way you’ll never run out of Earth stars even when the original specimen dies off.
You should be able to find Earth stars in most normal garden and plant stores, though they might be a little difficult to spot because of the sheer amount of differently colored and shaped types available.
You can also buy Earth stars online!
Is Cryptanthus toxic to cats and dogs?
The ASPCA list Cryptanthus as non-toxic to both cats and dogs. Yay!
If you have any more questions about Cryptanthus/Earth star Bromeliad care or want to share your own experiences with this interesting oddity, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.