Earth Star Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor (v)

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
rainbow star


Commonly known as Earth Star, this plant is remarkable for its striking foliage. The leaves are stiff, radiating outwards from the center in a star-like pattern, which makes the common name very apt. Their texture is somewhat rough, with the edges being slightly toothed. The most distinctive feature of the Earth Star is its coloration. The leaves blend beautiful shades of green, pink, and white. This tricolor effect is often arranged in bands across the width of each leaf, creating a striking contrast that can be quite vivid, depending on the light and growing conditions. The bold striping along with the fields of color distinguishes it from many other plants, making it a popular choice for a splash of color in homes and gardens. Flowering in the Earth Star is a subtle affair, with small flowers possibly developing at the plant's center. However, it's the foliage that is the clear star of the show with this variety, providing a vibrant and exotic touch to its surroundings.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Earth Star, Starfish Plant, Red Star

    • Common names

      Cryptanthus tricolor, Cryptanthus bivittatus, Cryptanthus bromelioides variegatus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Earth star (Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor) is generally considered non-toxic to humans. Therefore, there are no expected symptoms of poisoning, as it is not known to contain any components that cause harm to humans through ingestion or contact.

    • To pets

      Earth star (Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor) is also considered non-toxic to pets. Thus, ingestion of this plant should not cause any significant symptoms of poisoning or toxicity in pets like dogs and cats. However, as with any non-food item, ingestion of large quantities could potentially cause mild gastrointestinal upset due to the physical irritation of the plant material, rather than chemical toxicity.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Height

      6 inches (15 cm)

    • Spread

      12 inches (30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ease of Care: Earth stars are quite hardy and can be easily grown indoors with minimal care.
    • Decorative Appeal: The vibrant and varied colors of the variegated leaves add aesthetic appeal to indoor spaces.
    • Growth Habit: Its compact size and rosette-forming growth habit make it suitable for terrariums and small containers.
    • Drought Tolerance: Earth stars can withstand periods of drought, making them a good choice for forgetful gardeners or those in arid climates.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, commonly known as Earth Star, can be used as a living mulch in subtropical or tropical gardens, as they provide ground cover that retains moisture and suppresses weed growth.
    • The plant's vibrant color provides visual signaling in gardens to attract pollinators to the area, even though it may not be the primary attractant for pollination itself.
    • Earth Stars can be used in terrariums to create miniature landscapes due to their small size and interesting foliage patterns which remain contained and manageable.
    • These plants can be grown in hanging baskets to take advantage of their interesting rosette shape and colorful leaves, providing a unique aesthetic to balconies and patios.
    • Because of their adaptability to various lighting conditions, Earth Stars can be used in office or commercial settings to add a low-maintenance splash of color to interiors.
    • Their textured and colorful foliage can be incorporated into floral arrangements as an exotic and lasting alternative to traditional flowers.
    • In educational settings, Earth Stars can serve as a hands-on tool for teaching botany and horticulture, especially when discussing bromeliad family characteristics.
    • As part of pet-safe gardening, Earth Stars can be used since they are non-toxic to cats and dogs, adding beauty to homes without risking the health of pets.
    • The contrasting leaf colors of Earth Stars make them suitable for use in color therapy or chromotherapy applications, aiming to enhance mood through exposure to colors.
    • The plant can be used as a natural art subject for photography enthusiasts, capturing the detailed patterns and rich hues of the leaves.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Earth Star is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Earth Star is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience and Adaptation: Cryptanthus bromelioides, commonly known as Earth Star, often symbolizes resilience and the ability to adapt to various conditions. Its hardiness and ability to thrive in different environments resonates with the human capacity to withstand challenges and change.
    • Protection: The pointed leaves of the Earth Star plant, which spread outwards in a star-like pattern, are reminiscent of a protective barrier. This can symbolize the idea of safeguarding oneself or others, reflecting a nurturing or defensive aspect.
    • Beauty and Uniqueness: With its tricolored variegation, the Earth Star symbolizes beauty and uniqueness. Each plant has a distinctive pattern, representing individuality and the value of standing out.
    • Grounding: As a terrestrial plant, the Earth Star signifies grounding, representing the concept of staying connected and balanced with one's environment. It can be a reminder to remain present and engaged with the physical world.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Earth Star requires moderate watering, and the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. You can water every 7 to 10 days, depending on the ambient humidity and temperature, but be cautious not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. When watering, gently pour water directly onto the soil until it begins to run out of the drainage holes—this might be around a quarter of a gallon for a medium-sized pot. During the winter months, reduce the frequency of watering as the plant's growth slows down.

  • sunLight

    Earth Stars thrive in bright, indirect light but will tolerate lower light conditions. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as this can burn their leaves. A spot near an east or north-facing window is ideal, where they can receive plenty of light without the harsh afternoon sun. If the light is too low, their vibrant colors may fade, so make sure they're getting enough indirect brightness to maintain their striking appearance.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Earth Stars perform best in temperatures between 60°F and 80°F, which is within the range of most indoor environments. They can survive minimum temperatures down to 40°F, but it's not recommended for prolonged periods, and they should be kept away from cold drafts. Maximum temperatures above 90°F should also be avoided. Maintaining a consistent temperature within the ideal range will help keep your Earth Star healthy.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning of Earth Stars is generally done to remove dead or damaged leaves and to maintain the plant's shape. Gently trim away these leaves at the base using clean scissors or pruning shears. It's best to prune during the growing season, spring through summer, when the plant can recover more easily from any stress caused by pruning. Pruning is not frequently necessary and should be done as needed, perhaps once a year or less, depending on the plant's condition.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Earth Star thrives best in a well-draining potting mix composed of 50% peat or coco coir and 50% perlite or pumice. The soil pH preferred for Cryptanthus is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 5.5 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Earth Stars should be repotted every one to two years, or when it becomes root-bound or the soil breaks down, which impedes drainage.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Earth Star prefers high humidity levels, ideally between 60% to 80%, to mimic its native tropical environment.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright, indirect light and high humidity.

    • Outdoor

      Place in dappled shade, protect from cold drafts.

    • Hardiness zone

      10-12 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, commonly known as Earth Star, begins its life as a seed, which upon germination grows into a small rosette of leaves. The plant gradually matures and increases in size, developing vibrant foliage with a tricolor pattern of green, red, and creamy-pink stripes, which is particularly striking due to its terrestrial habitat unlike many other bromeliads. As it reaches maturity, the Earth Star will produce inconspicuous flowers within the central cup of the rosette, which is formed by a tight spiral of leaves. After flowering, the plant may produce offsets, or "pups," around its base, which can be separated and planted to grow new Earth Stars, as the parent plant typically begins to decline post-bloom. The life span of an Earth Star varies, but after several years the parent plant will complete its life cycle and die, leaving behind its pups to continue the species. Throughout its life, Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor requires warm temperatures, moderate light, and good drainage to thrive.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • Propogation: Earth Star, better known botanically as Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, is commonly propagated through the separation of offsets, also known as "pups." The ideal time for propagation is during spring or early summer when the plant's growth is most active. To propagate, one must wait until the pup is about one-third the size of the parent plant and has developed several of its own leaves. Carefully separating the pup from the mother plant with a sharp knife, taking care to include some roots, is the next step. The pup should be allowed to dry for a day before planting it in its own pot with well-draining soil. A light watering should be given, and the young Earth Star should be placed in a warm, brightly lit spot without direct sunlight to encourage it to establish and thrive.