Cryptanthus bivittatus: A Shining ‘Earth Star’ Care Guide

Cryptanthus bivittatus, affectionately known as the Earth Star.

While it may not be a celestial body, this neon-pink, spiky rosette will definitely captivate your attention.

Its fabulous appearance and easy-care qualities make it a stellar choice for livening up your indoor space, be it a dull corner of the home or your latest terrarium build.

That’s why this minute member of the Bromeliaceae family is a rising star in the world of tropical plants.

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to keep it happy, from lighting to watering to propagation and beyond.

So, let’s shoot for the stars.

Where to Buy Cryptanthus bivittatus

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Cryptanthus bivittatus Care Essentials

Plant TypeFoliage
LightingBright, indirect light
Temperature60-80°F (15-27°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityMedium-high humidity (50-90%)
GrowthUp to 7 inches


Luckily, finding the right light situation for your Earth Star is pretty straightforward.

These small plants grow terrestrially in the ground, meaning they receive relatively little light once it’s been filtered through the foliage and canopy above (hence the earth part of their name).

So striving to provide your plant with indirect but relatively bright light levels – as it would get in its natural environment – is the best way to keep it happy.

Direct sunlight would likely result in crispy tips, so keep it out of direct rays. Too little light would lead to a less vibrant plant, and you want those pink leaves looking spectacular!

If you want to get technical, 200 footcandles of light is a decent starting point.
  • If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, a North-facing window is best.
  • If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, a South-facing window is best.


Cryptanthus plants have delicate roots.

So, as you’d expect, they’re very susceptible to root rot and overwatering.

The best way to prevent this is by providing adequate drainage, and honestly, as long as that’s taken care of, you shouldn’t have any issues.

So, if your plant is going in the home, choose a pot with a hole. And if you’re putting yours in a terrarium build, make sure to install a false bottom.

I can’t stress enough how essential it is that any excess water has somewhere to go.

For terrariums, be sure to go easy on the watering (it’s easy to add more but very difficult to remove), and for potted plants, water until you see excess coming out of the holes and tip the excess away.

Just avoid pouring directly into the center of the “star” as any pooling water could cause rotting.

Soil / Substrate

Okay, so they may look like Air Plants, but true to their name, Earth Stars definitely go in the soil.

Thankfully, the Earth Star isn’t too picky when it comes to soil requirements, so most high-quality tropical mixes will do the trick.

Something with moisture retention, drainage, and aeration.

I used a sustainable version of the classic ABG mix when I put my plant in a terrarium.

My go-to substrate mix is using coco coir as a fluffy base, and adding materials like charcoal, pumice, and orchid bark for drainage, plus a natural fertilizer such as earthworm castings.

Before I planted it, I rinsed off as much of the original soil as I could.

Temperature & Humidity

Despite looking like an arid plant, this plant is a firmly tropical species (it’s not just me, right? It gives total succulent/cacti vibes…).

So, maintaining a yummy warm temperature and a humid environment will be essential for your Earth Star.

The closer to rainforest conditions you can get, the happier your Earth Star will be.

Naturally, this is easily achievable in a closed terrarium. But if you’re keeping yours as a houseplant, as a bare minimum, make sure your home doesn’t drop below 60°F (15.5°C) or 50% humidity.

If you’re struggling to meet this, a great way to boost humidity in the home is to leave full watering cans around the room to evaporate.


While many members of the Bromeliaceae family can get massive, this pink delight will stay relatively dainty.

I’d be really surprised (and impressed) if you could grow one beyond 7 inches – but please do accept that as a challenge!

My plant is so cute and small.

New leaves will come from the center of the rosette, with the older leaves on the outside.

Don’t expect it to get anywhere in a hurry, either. Bromeliads are renowned for being extremely slow growers, and this plant is no exception to the rule.

So, if your idea of a good terrarium plant is a set-and-forget that won’t require any trimming, this plant is an ideal choice.

Not to mention, it’s a great way to add a brilliant splash of color to a build.

If you’re lucky, you might be rewarded with tiny white flowers blooming from the center, but it’ll only happen once in the plant’s lifetime.


Propagating this plant is a lesson in trusting the process and not rushing Mother Nature.

When your Earth Star is mature and happy, you’ll see mini plants (or “pups” as they’re called) pop up around the base of the mother plant.

These can be carefully removed and established into individual plants.

Carefully tease or snip them away – trying to preserve as much of the base as possible – and put on a bed of moist sphagnum moss in a Tupperware box.

Check on it over the following weeks and plant up in quality substrate when roots have grown.

I haven’t been lucky enough to spot a pup yet on my plant – but I have my fingers crossed!


There are plenty of funky Earth Star species and varieties to collect.

Of the most notable (and snazzy) plants would be Cryptanthus zonatus, a finely striped burgundy and khaki rosette.

Another lovely choice is Cryptanthus lacerdae – which has bold silver and plum bands.

Or, if you’d rather something a little bigger, the Bromeliad family has tonnes of colorful options.

I won’t rest till I have them all!