While some parts of the globe have fun under the summer sun, my garden endures the prevailing winds and downpour. It’s the peak of the wet season around here in the Philippines; while some of my plants gladly receive the rains, others “drown”. Some that unwelcome the wet season are my Cryptanthus plants.
Plant enthusiast give them nicknames such as Earth Stars or Starfish Plants due to their distinct shape and exotic colors. [Cryptanthus belongs to the Bromeliad family. Though the genus name “cryptos” (hidden) and “anthos” (flower) is Greek, the species are endemic to Brazil. (Wikipedia)] I acquired some species or hybrids of Earth Stars from the private gardens in Dalwangan and Camp Phillips, Bukidnon in the 1970’s.
I’m often cautious when handling their foliage because their leaves are tooth-edged.These plants have rosette forms with about 6 to 20 colorful leaves. In addition, their leaves are about three to twelve inches in length with spoon-shaped, lance-shaped, or triangular shapes. Various Cryptanthus plants show an array of colors — pink to red background colors; strongly banded with sharp zigzag patterns or frosted with gray, white or bronze. The white (sometimes light green or pink) flowers appear in the center and from between the leaves, a few at a time.
Here’s some general description on my Cryptanthus plants:
- ‘Waterfalls’ – The slightly wavy green leaves have yellowish irregular markings that resemble like falling water.
- ‘Pink Starlite’ – All leaves have 5 stripes. The central stripe is olive-green or a paler hue; next, candy pink stripes on both sides; and at then maroon stripes at the edges.
- ‘Cafe Au Lait’ – Each miniature leaves has the color of coffee-and-cream brown.
- ‘Ruby Star’ – All leaves have 3 stripes; maroon stripes at the center and hot pink stripes at the edges.
- ‘Red Star’ – Basically its leaves have at least 3 stripes; olive-green bands at the edges and rose-pink bands at the center. However, as each leaves mature, additional thins stripes of pinks and greens appear in between the central and margin stripes.
- ‘Green Star’ – All leaves have green stripes at the center and yellow-green to cream stripes as margins.
- ‘Corrine’ – Each miniature leaves has ruby-red to rose-pink color.
- ‘Zebrinus’ – All leaves have maroon central stripes and olive stripes at the edges. Also, silver-grey or white irregular markings appear across the leaves.
- ‘Elaine’ – The leaves have maroon stripe at the center and hot pink stripes at the edges. Also, bronze zigzag patterns appear across the leaves.
- ‘Ruby’ – Its leaves 5 stripes; at the edges and center are dark maroon stripes ( This fades to green in poor light or dark olive-green in high light.), and 2 stripes appear on either side of the central stripe in rich ruby-red to rose-pink (This changes to cream or creamy green in low light).
These tropical plants definitely require sufficient sunlight. With too little light, their foliage color and strong markings fail to develop. On the other hand, too much light bleaches foliage colors. They’re happy when placed on areas where they could get morning or afternoon sun. They also perform well when grown on pots and placed among ferns or begonias. I often plant these terrestrials in at least five or six-inch pots filled with loose peat moss or organic material. I noticed that they accede well when given abundant fertilizers such as slow-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.