Family: Bromeliaceae
Habitat: Brazil
Cultivation: Cryptanthus are easy to grow. Put them in full sun, nebulize them often and provide them with a well-draining soil and a warm environment and they will thrive and reward you with the extremely high decorative potential of their foliage!
Curiosity: Their name comes from Greek and literally means “hidden flower”, referring to their small, inconspicuous flowers, which remain hidden by the leaves.


Cryptanthus is a genus of succulent plant belonging to the family of Bromeliaceae. It includes species very appreciated in the world of ornamental gardening because they are easy to grow and they have a very decorative foliage, with many different colours.

Their name comes from Greek and literally means “hidden flower”, referring to their small, inconspicuous flowers, which remain hidden by the leaves. They are also known as “Earth Stars”, because they tend to form herbaceous maps made of star-shaped rosettes, very decorative and ideal for a wide pot.

Cryptanthus are native to South America, in particular they are endemic to Brazil, where they form grasslands in the shade of bigger bushes in humid climates. Unlike many other Bromeliaceaes, none of the species of this genus is epiphytic (an epiphytic plant is a plant growing on trees or other plants): all Cryptanthus are terrestrial, or either they grow among rocks.

They are small plant: usually, the single rosette never exceed 10 centimeters in height and 15 centimeters in width. Their stem are usually reducedor absent, as it occurs in most plants with a rosette-shaped habit.

Their main distinctive feature are undoubtely the leaves. They are lanceolate, 20 centimeters long, coloured in different tinges depending on the species. For example, C. cv. Ruby star is of an intense red colour, with a central, darker, almost black stripe, which naturally fades into bright red at the edges. These pattern with the central stripe is among the most common: often, the central stripe is green and it fades into yellow towards the edges. Some species, instead, such as C. zonatus, show a brindled pattern, with dark green zones alternate to paler ones. These many colourful templates, along with its extreme adaptability to any condition of cultivation, make Cryptanthus the perfect indoor plant. Another common feature of the leaves is their wavy edges, which further enhance the elegance of these plants.

Flowers are creamy yellow and inconspicuous, and sprout from the central part of the rosette. Cryptanthus bloom once in life, as it dies right after its blossoming.


ere below are the main species of Cryptanthus:

  • C. acaulis
  • C. alagoanus
  • C. bahianus
  • C. beuckeri
  • C. bibarrensis
  • C. bivittatus
  • C. blitoides
  • C. brevifolius
  • C. bromelioides
  • C. burle-marxii
  • C. capitatus
  • C. capitellatus
  • C. caracensis
  • C. caulescens
  • C. × cochleatus
  • C. colnagoi
  • C. coriaceus
  • C. correia-araujoi
  • C. crassifolius
  • C. delicatus
  • C. diamantinensis
  • C. dianae
  • C. dorothyae
  • C. exaltatus
  • C. fernseeoides
  • C. ferrarius
  • C. fosterianus
  • C. giganteus
  • C. glaziovii

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Cryptanthus don’t require any particular attention, especially if grown in pots. Here below are our cultivation tips:

  • Put your Cryptanthus in full sun, protecting it from the intense sunlight of the hottest hours in the Summer. Intense sunlight enhances the colours of the leaves.
  • Keep your Criptanthus at warm temperatures, sheltering it duriing the coldest months of the Winter. More specifically, it should stay above 10ºC: the optimal temperature is around 20-24ºC.
  • Cryptanthus are from humid climates, and they enjoy frequent nebulizations of their leaves, especially in Summer, when these plants grows rather better with high air humidity. During the summer, the soil should be maintained moiste through watering at least once a week and nebulizing it almost every day. In Winter, on the contrary, the substrate should be kept dry to avoid rotting and the nebulizations should be interrupted.
  • The substrate should be well-draining, enriched in peat and sand.
  • Repotting should be carried out when you notice that the pot has become to small for your plant. We advice to choose clay pots to enhance draining. It can be done in any time of the year.
  • Fertilize once a year in Spring with a specific products for succulents (a liquid product is always better), diluting it in water and using half the doses written in the label.

Propagation is usually carried out through the little sprouts that come off from the base of the plant. These offset should simply be taken off and replanted.

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