A Cryptanthus bromeliad is an easy to grow, small and colorful plant to have in your home. Learn how to care for an Earth Star Plant plus what you need to know to grow one indoors.
Are you looking for a sweet, colorful plant for your home that stays small? You’ve found it. Cryptanthus bromeliads are easy-care as can be and are petite enough to tuck in almost anywhere.
I love these plants and grew them in pots in my Santa Barbara garden year-round. I’ve moved to Tucson and now grow them indoors.
They’re in the Bromeliad family but differ from other bromeliads in one way. This is good to know in regards to their care.
I’ve done many posts on Bromeliad care. Here’s a Bromeliads 101 Guide you’ll find helpful.
Watch the Video
Cryptanthus grow in the ground which means have a more extensive root system, prefer a different soil mix, and are watered differently.
There are many species and cultivars of Cryptanthus which have a variety of foliage patterns and colors, as well as sizes.
The Pink and Red Earth Stars are the ones I’m most familiar with that are commonly sold in the houseplant trade. These are the plants I’m writing about here.
Other names for these Cryptanthus: Earth Star Plants, Earth Stars, Cryptanthus bivittatus, Earth Star Bromeliad, Pink Earth Stars, Red Earth Stars, Pink Star Plants, and Red Star Plants.
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Winter Houseplant Care Guide
- Plant Humidity: How I Increase Humidity For Houseplants
Tabletop, dish gardens, and terrariums.
Low growing. Reaches 6″ high and can spread to 12″ depending on the number of pups in the pot. Sold in 2″, 4″ & 6′ pots. My 6″ plant is 12″ wide & my 4″ plant is 8″ wide.
Earth Star Plant Care
Cryptanthus Earth Stars like bright light but no direct, hot sun. Too much sun = bleaching out. Too little light = loss of color (the red or pink) that leads to one turning more green.
This is where they differ from the epiphytic bromeliads. Because they’re terrestrial, they like the soil mix to be watered on a regular basis.
In late spring, summer, and early fall when the temps are warmer here, I don’t let the mix dry out. On the other hand, I don’t keep it bone dry either.
I water mine less often in the winter. See how often in the FAQs bellow.
Earth Stars love it! I live in an arid climate, but mine do well nonetheless. Here’s what I do to increase the humidity factor for my tropical houseplants.
If your home is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your indoor plants too. Just be sure to keep yours away from any cold drafts as well as air conditioning or heating vents.
Cryptanthus prefer cooler temperatures at night.
Feeding / Fertilizing
I never fertilize mine but they do like a light topdressing of worm compost and compost in the spring.
If you think yours need fertilizing, feed it with a balanced formula houseplant food like 10-10-10. Once in the spring should be enough.
The root system of an epiphytic bromeliad serves the main purpose of anchoring the plant to whatever it’s growing on. The Cryptanthus bivtittatus grows in the ground and likes a rich mix that is loose and drains well.
They don’t need it often, if at all. I repotted my 4″ Pink Earth Star a year ago because 2 of the pups fell out of the pot when I brought it home from Green Things Nursery.
I decided to repot it and used the soil mixture above. The pups have since rooted in and the plant (which you’ll see in the video) is doing great.
If you need to repot yours, spring and summer are the best times to do it.
This is another thing your Cryptanthus may not need because they grow slowly and stay compact. If one of the lower leaves is dead, then you’ll need to cut it off.
These critters tend to live inside where the leaf hits the stem and also underneath the leaves so check these areas from time to time.
It’s best to take action as soon as you see any pests because they multiply like crazy. They can travel from plant to plant fast so make you get them under control pronto.
Here’s a big heads up: like other Bromeliads, the mother plant will eventually brown and die after flowering.
You propagate an Earth Star Plant by its pups or babies. You’ll see those pups start to form off the base of the mother plant. The plant will slowly start to die (sad but true – it’s just part of its life cycle!).
You can just cut away the foliage of the mother plant after it’s completely dried and dead leaving the pups to form and grow in that same pot. Or, you can remove the pups after they’ve gotten big enough and put them in their own pot.
Ring the bells! Earth Star plants are non-toxic. I consult the ASPCA website for this information.
Just know that if your pet chews on the crunchy leaves, it could make them sick.
Cryptanthus Bromeliad FAQs
It depends on the pot size, type of soil it’s planted in, the location where it’s growing, and your home’s environment.
I’ll share with you how I water mine. In summer, it’s every 7-10 days and every 10-20 days in winter.
The easiest way is from the pups or babies. You can separate them from the mother when they’re large enough.
It’s usually caused by 2 things: too much sun or not enough light.
This is due to a lack of light over time. It doesn’t happen right away and can occur in the wintertime when light levels are lower. Locating it to brighter light (not direct sun) should bring the color back.
No, the Earth Stars are not. Just be aware that some kitties like to chew on those crunchy leaves.
I’ve always bought mine from local nurseries and growers in CA and AZ. I’ve seen them for sale online on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Pistil Nursery, and Jordan’s Jungle.
There are 2 things to keep in mind when growing a Cryptanthus. They like bright, natural light and to be kept not too wet or not too dry.
Earth Star Plants are another easy-care option to add to your home’s living decor!
Looking for more gardening tips? Check these out!
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