Cryptanthus acaulis – CHAMELEON PLANT, EARTH STAR

Cryptanthus acaulis

A small Bromeliad with long, very wavy leaves which taper from the centre of the plant to form a low-growing rosette. The foliage is usually mottled or banded with a darker colour. Cryptanthus is quite easy to grow, and very useful in a bottle garden. The flowers are insignificant.

Where to position: Place it in good light to maintain leaf colour; strong sunlight will shrivel the leaves. Protect from draughts. It withstands moderate temperature changes.

Watering requirements: Tepid water – cold water could be fatal – poured only on the soil. Keep soil condition moist and springy to thumb pressure. Maintain high humidity. Spray with tepid water every day in hot weather and once weekly at other times, except during the rest period.

General care: Pinching out the insignificant flowers to prevent weakening the plant. Give a very weak liquid feed once or twice only per season.

Rest: It rests after flowering. Water to keep soil just moist; do not allow to dry out completely. Mist-spray once weekly.

When it looks sick:

Plant flags : Check that the soil is moist and springy; if it is, spray to improve humidity. If soil is saturated, then over-watering is the cause. Cease watering until soil state improves and check that drainage is good. Poor leaf colour : Give the plant a lighter position. Drying leaves tending to shrivel : This is also caused by inadequate humidity.

Scorched leaf edges : Usually sunscorch. Move to light, shady place.

Parasites : Always check.


Growing season 15-22 °C (60-72 °F)

Minimum winter 10-13 °C (50-55 °F)

Soil: Add 50% chopped sphagnum moss to soil-less compost.

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