How to grow and care for Earth Stars Bromeliads (Cryptanthus) Indoors

Earth star bromeliad

Botanical name: Cryptanthus spp
Family: Bromeliaceae
Sufamily: Bromelioideae

The Earth Stars are stemless low growing Bromeliads whose small, wavy-edged, colorful leaves make spectacular houseplants. Earth Stars are a unique group of Bromeliads in that they only grow terrestrially in soil. They are endemic to Brazil's rain forests where they are found growing on the forest floors. Unlike other Bromeliads, their 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.

There is a wide range of Earth Stars to choose from; plain, striped and banded in green, red, brown and yellow. Leaf sizes range from 4 in. in Cryptanthus bivittatus to 15 in. in Cryptanthus fosterianus. The brightest and also the most difficult to grow is Cryptanthus bromelioides tricolor.

How to Grow Earth Stars Bromeliads (Cryptanthus)

Light for Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Earth Stars Bromeliads prefer bright light but away from direct sunlight. Find out how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Like with other rosette Bromeliads, Earth Stars Bromeliads require the central 'vase' to be filled with water at all times. Empty and refill the 'vase' regularly to prevent growth of bacteria which may cause the water to become smelly. Use only chlorine-free water as Earth Stars are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals that may be dissolved in water. Water the soil only when it dries to keep the roots moist; avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.

Temperature for Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Earth Stars Bromeliads.

Humidity for Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Earth Stars Bromeliads require a humid enviroment. Employ these techniques to raise humidity. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.

Feeding Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Feed Earth Stars Bromeliads with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) once every month during the growing season. Do not feed Earth Stars during the cold season as growth is minimal.

Repotting Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Repotting Earth Stars Bromeliads is not necessary as once they flower they die leaving behind pups which can be potted up in individual pots to propagate new plants. Pot Earth Stars Bromeliads in a shallow, wide, heavy pot to prevent them from toppling over as they can become top-heavy. Ensure the soil is free-draining and moisture-holding.

Pruning Earth Stars (Cryptanthus)

Pruning Earth Stars Bromeliads involves removal of dead leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants to grow. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.

How to Propagate Earth Stars Bromeliads (Cryptanthus)

Earth Stars Bromeliads are propagated from offsets (pups) appearing at the base of the plant. When the offset is several months old, remove it with some roots attached and plant shallow in free-draining bark soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place until the plant is well established. Pot Earth Stars Bromeliads in a shallow, wide, heavy pot to prevent them from toppling over as they can become top-heavy.

Common Problems in Growing Earth Stars Bromeliads (Cryptanthus)

  • Brown leaf tips
  • Growing Earth Stars Bromeliads where air is too dry will cause brown leaf tips. Employ these techniques to raise humidity.

  • Pale brown patches on leaves
  • Exposure to direct sunlight is the reason. Earth Stars Bromeliads do not like to be exposed to direct sunlight. Protect them from direct sunlight or move it to a shadier spot.

  • Dark, soft, drooping, long leaves
  • Inadequate light for Earth Stars Bromeliads is the cause of dark, soft, drooping, long leaves. Move it to a brighter spot; it prefers bright light but away from direct sunlight. Find out how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Earth Stars Bromeliads are Scales and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat appropriately.

  • Plant death
  • Root-rot Disease due to waterlogging is the reason if Earth Stars Bromeliad has not flowered. If it has flowered then rotting and death of rosette which bore flower-stalk is natural to give room for the new plants. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.

Toxicity

Earth Stars Bromeliads (Cryptanthus spp) are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors. However, the leaves bear short spines which may cause physical injury if handled with bare hands; always handle with gloves to prevent injury.

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