Cryptanthus (group)

Common Name: cryptanthus 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Bromeliaceae
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10 where this terrestrial bromeliad may be grown outdoors in bright but part shade conditions. Best in bright indirect light. Too much light results in bleached foliage. Too little light results in dull colors. Performs well on pond peripheries. Prefers loamy soils that never dry out. Soils must be well-drained however. Prefers at least moderate humidity in a moist growing medium. Propagate by offsets. Optimum growth occurs in temperatures between 60-85 degrees F. Plants suffer when temperatures dip into the low 40s F.

Cryptanthus is popularly grown as a houseplant where it is best sited in moist humid conditions. Container plants need pot space for development of a vigorous root system. Plants prefer sphagnum moss and/or other organic materials with ample moisture. Avoid regular potting mixes. Regular fertilization during the growing period is recommended.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cryptanthus, sometimes commonly called earth stars, is a genus containing over 100 species of bromeliads that are native to Brazil. Plants in this genus are unique in that they only grow terrestrially. Most plants are quite small, typically maturing to 3-6” tall spreading to as 12” wide. Plants in this group have short creeping rhizomes that typically branch into small, flat, star-like rosettes of strap-shaped to triangular leaves that are often variegated with white to red to silvery stripes or bars. Each leaf has finely-toothed wavy edges and a long-tapering apex. Small white flowers emerge in summer from the center of the leaf rosette.

Genus name comes from the Greek words krypto meaning to hide and anthos meaning a flower in reference to the lower part of the flower being covered (hidden) by the sheathing leaves.

Common name of earth stars is in reference to the shape of the foliage.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to mealybugs and scale.


Rock gardens. Bedding plants. Containers. Terrariums.