Cryptanthus Acaulis
Starfish Bromeliad Plant

Cryptanthus acaulis is a small bromeliad – ideal for a humid location in the home.

Mature plants are 5 in/12.5 cm high and 6 in/15 cm across.  This bromeliad is primarily grown for its sharp-tipped wavy leaves.

The leaves arch backward forming a flat rosette, resembling the shape of a star or starfish, the reason this plant is also known as the Earth Star and Starfish Plant. The flowers are small and not visible.

The course leaf scales (easily seen on most cultivars) absorb moisture and nutrients. Mature plants flatten out before they bloom, and then slowly fail.

The starfish plant has a unique texture. Since it is a small plant, this bromeliad is and ideal houseplant for your home. Consider grouping this plant with other foliage plants with high humidity requirements, such as ferns, for a dramatic display.

Cryptanthus Acaulis (Starfish Plant) Care Tips

Lighting Requirements

Earth Star plants require bright light.Cryptanthus Acaulis

Temperature Requirements

Consistently warm temperatures year round (60 - 80° F / 16 - 27° C).


In spring and summer, feed leaves and roots every two weeks with house plant fertilizer diluted to ½ the normal strength.  Feed monthly in fall and winter.


In the spring and summer months, keep soil lightly moist. In fall and winter, water less often; however, do not let roots dry out completely.


Use an orchid potting soil or regular potting soil amended with 1/3 part peat moss.


Trim back the leaves by ½ their length to speed up the growth of emerging offsets. When the offsets are ½ the size of the parent, they are ready to be repotted. Keep newly potted offsets in a warm place, and enclosed in a loose plastic bag for approximately one month to increase humidity.


Repot every two to three years in the spring.  When handle the plant gently. Avoid injuring the sparse, shallow roots.


Cryptanthus acaulis can last indefinately when propagated from offsets.


There are a variety of hybrids available. The leaves of some Earth Stars are green in color; other species have pink, red and green stripes.

‘Areltey’ is pink, with grayish-green stripes down the middle of each strap-like leaf. ‘Black Magic’ has leaves mottled with dark zebra-like bands. C. sinuosus ‘Cascade’ produces pups on long stolons, similar to a spider plant.

Uses and Display Tips

Display on a low windowsill or plant stand where plants can be viewed from above.


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