The genus Cryptanthus consists of about 55 species which are terrestrial, meaning they naturally grow on the ground, but are adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. The wavy, star-shaped foliage of cryptanthus have low-spreading rosettes of 8-20 leaves and various species and hybrids show a rainbow of colors. Most are strongly banded with white, bronze, gray and some have vibrant pink to red foliage background. The white, light green or pink flowers bloom in the center and from between the leaves.
Cryptanthus thrive in bright, diffused light (not direct sun) that is needed to bring out maximum color in most plants, which means 55% to 75% shade in sunny climates. Too little light and the wonderful colors and patterns will fail to develop; too much light causes bleaching of color and sunburn. Optimum growth occurs between 60F and 85F degrees with moist soil and good air circulation. Experts recommend a generous amount of slow-release fertilizer for a healthy size. Cryptanthus bromeliads are a very feasible option for any gardener either indoors or in a tropical setting who wishes to enjoy their lovely and diverse foliage.