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Botanical name: Cryptanthus spp
Cryptanthus Bromeliads or the Earth Star Bromeliads are stemless low growing Bromeliads whose small, wavy-edged, colorful leaves make spectacular houseplants.
Earth Star Bromeliads are a unique group of Bromeliads in that they only grow terrestrially in soil. Unlike other Bromeliads, Earth Stars root systems are more developed and they prefer free-draining moisture holding soils.
Due to their requirement for humid air, they are ideal for a terrarium or a bathroom where the air humidity is high.
Earth Star Bromeliad flowers are small tubular white flowers and are often hidden in the center of the rosette of the leaves.
It may take upto 3 years to flower and flowers only once. Once the flowers fade, the rosette of leaves begins to die and is replaced by offsets (pups) at the base which grow into new plants.
Cryptanthus Bromeliads are endemic to Brazil's rain forests where they are found growing on the forest floors.
Earth Star Bromeliad Varieties: There is a wide range of Earth Star Bromeliads (Cryptanthus) to choose from; plain, striped and banded in green, red, brown and yellow.
The leaf sizes in Earth Stars range from 4 in. in Cryptanthus bivittatus to 15 in. in Cryptanthus fosterianus.
The brightest and also the most difficult to grow Earth Star is Cryptanthus bromelioides tricolor.
Cryptanthus Bromeliads in various sizes are available online at Etsy. Buy the spectacular Earth Star Bromeliads online from Etsy.
Earth Star Bromeliad (Cryptanthus Bromeliad) thrives in bright light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soils coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.
Cryptanthus Bromeliad requires regular pruning to keep it neat and also allow adequate room for the new plants (pups) which grow at the base of the plant. It has no need for frequent repotting as it has a small root system. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Earth Star Bromeliads grow best in bright light away from direct sunlight to prevent sun scorching on the leaves.
Turn the pot regularly to ensure the Cryptanthus Bromeliad receives light on all sides for even growth.
Cryptanthus Bromeliads can also grow under a grow light where natural light is not adequate.
Unlike most Bromeliads, Earth Star Bromeliads have no central 'vase'. They are terrestrial bromeliads and have a more developed root system.
Earth Star Bromeliads grow successfully in free-draining moisture holding soil that is rich in organic matter.
Water the soil only when it dries to keep the roots moist. Avoid soggy soil as it can lead to rotting and eventual death of the Bromeliad.
Use only chlorine-free water to water Cryptanthus Bromeliads as they are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals that may be dissolved in water.
The best temperature for growing Earth Star Bromeliad indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 150C. However, to bring the Bromeliad to flower requires temperatures above 260C.
Earth Star Bromeliad requires a humid enviroment to thrive. If the humidity is too low, the plant develops brown leaf tips and edges.
To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.
Cryptanthus Bromeliads can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.
Ensure there is good air circulation to prevent pest and disease infestations.
Feed Cryptanthus Bromeliad with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) every 2 weeks during the growing season for lush growth.
Do not feed the Earth Star Bromeliad during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and it may lead to fertilizer burn and eventual death of the Bromeliad.
Repotting Earth Star Bromeliad is not necessary as its roots are tiny and are unlikely to fill the pot.
Pot the Cryptanthus Bromeliad in a shallow, heavy pot to prevent it from toppling over as it can get top-heavy. Also provide support for the bromeliad to help keep it upright.
The best soil for Earth Star Bromeliad should be rich in organic matter, loose, free-draining bark soil to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Most orchid potting mixes are ideal for these bromeliads. Purchase quality Orchid Potting Mix for Cryptanthus Bromeliads online from Etsy.
Pruning Earth Star Bromeliad involves removal of dead leaves to keep the plant tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants (pups) which grow at the base of the plant to grow. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a sharp, clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Earth Star Bromeliads (Cryptanthus Bromeliads) can be propagated from offsets (pups) appearing at the base of the plant.
When the Earth Star Bromeliad offset (pup) is several months old or 1/3 to 1/2 the height of mother plant, separate it from the mother by cutting with a sharp, clean knife or scissors.
Ensure the offset has some roots attached to it and pant the offset shallowly in loose, free-draining bark soil.
Use a shallow heavy pot to prevent the bromeliad from toppling over as it can get top-heavy.
Ensure that it is well supported to prevent it from toppling over as its has a small root system.
Place the set up in a warm, well-lit shaded place until the new Cryptanthus Bromeliad is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Earth Star Bromeliad (Cryptanthus Bromeliad) problems indoors are due to cultural faults in humidity, lighting and watering. They include brown leaf tips and edges, leaf spots, drooping leaves, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Read on for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
Inadequate light for Earth Star Bromeliads is the cause of dark, soft, drooping, long leaves as it grows best in bright light but away from direct sunlight.
Move the Cryptanthus Bromeliad to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light away from direct sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural light is inadequate.
Earth Star Bromeliad brown leaf tips are caused by too dry air (low humidity as it grows best in a humid environment.
To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Earth Star Bromeliads can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.
A dying Earth Star Bromeliad is due to two possible reasons. One reason is that if the Bromeliad has not flowered, the cause of death is root-rot disease due to soggy soil.
The second possible reason is, if the Earth Star Bromeliad has flowered then rotting and death of rosette which bore flower-stalk is natural to give room for the new plants (pups).
Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors to create space for the new plants (pups).
Earth Star Bromeliad pale brown leaf patches are due to exposure of to direct sunlight. The bromeliad does not like to be exposed to direct sunlight as it causes sunscorch. Protect it from direct sunlight or move it to a shadier spot.
Earth Star Bromeliad pests are scales and mealy bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it with a horticultural oil as per the manufacturer's recommendations.
Earth Star Bromeliads (Cryptanthus Bromeliads) are non-toxic to humans and pets according to ASPCA. The plants are safe to grow indoors.
However, their leaves bear short spines which may cause physical injury if handled with bare hands. Always wear gloves when handling Earth Star Bromeliad to prevent injury.