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Cryptanthus acaulis in an Open Terrarium Care Sheet


Common Names: Earth Star, Starfish Plant

Family: Bromeliaceae



Cryptanthus acaulis, also known as Earth Star or Starfish Plant, is a hardy and decorative bromeliad that thrives in open terrariums. Its low-growing rosette of colorful, strappy leaves adds a striking visual element to any terrarium setup.

Light Requirements

  • Optimal Light: Prefers bright, indirect light.
  • Placement: Position the terrarium where it can receive ample indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent scorching the leaves.


  • Frequency: Water moderately, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
  • Method: Water the soil around the base of the plant, avoiding the central rosette. Use a spray bottle to maintain moisture without overwatering.


  • Type: Well-draining, slightly acidic soil mix.
  • Composition: A combination of peat, perlite, and orchid bark provides excellent drainage and aeration.

Temperature and Humidity

  • Temperature: Optimal temperatures range from 60-80°F (15-27°C). Protect from temperatures below 50°F (10°C).
  • Humidity: Prefers high humidity levels, typical of terrarium environments. Mist the plant regularly to maintain humidity.


  • Type: Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength.
  • Frequency: Fertilize lightly every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Bromeliads do not require heavy feeding.

Pruning and Maintenance

  • Pruning: Remove any dead or damaged leaves to maintain the plant's appearance and prevent mold growth.
  • Cleaning: Clean the inside of the terrarium glass periodically to ensure adequate light penetration and prevent algae buildup.


  • Method: Propagate by offsets (pups) that develop around the base of the plant.
  • Steps:

    Wait until the offsets are about one-third the size of the parent plant.

    Carefully remove the offsets with a clean, sharp knife.

    Plant the offsets in the same soil mix used for the parent plant and place them back in the terrarium.

Pests and Diseases

  • Common Pests: Keep an eye out for mealybugs and scale insects.
    • Treatment: Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Diseases: Generally resistant to diseases, but overwatering can lead to root rot.
    • Prevention: Ensure proper drainage and avoid waterlogging the soil.

Special Notes

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Cryptanthus acaulis is known for its rosette of colorful, textured leaves that resemble a star, making it an attractive centerpiece in terrariums.
  • Non-Toxic: Safe for pets and humans.


  • Brown Leaf Tips: Indicates low humidity or underwatering. Increase misting and ensure the plant is receiving enough moisture.
  • Faded Colors: Sign of insufficient light. Move the terrarium to a brighter location with indirect sunlight.
  • Soft or Mushy Leaves: Result of overwatering or poor drainage. Allow the soil to dry out slightly and ensure proper drainage.

With the right care, Cryptanthus acaulis can flourish in an open terrarium, providing vibrant color and unique texture to your indoor garden. Enjoy the beauty and ease of cultivating this distinctive bromeliad in your terrarium setup.

Cryptanthus acaulis ' Old Gold'

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