The bromeliad genus Cryptanthus (earth stars, pheasant leaves, zebra plants) derives its name from the way the flowers bloom deep in the bottom of the rosettes. The name comes from a combination of the Greek words, "crypt; hidden," and "anthos; flower."
These stemless, terrestrial bromeliads, from southern Brazil, are grown primarily for the beautiful foliage which comes in shades of green, bronze, brown, red, pink, and many combinations. The two- to twelve-inch leaves usually have wavy edges and form a star pattern.
Cryptanthus acaulis comes in a number of colorful varieties with two- to three-inch leaves. Cryptanthus bivittatus 'Unicolor' has wavy, green, six-inch leaves with a pair of pale stripes on each leaf.
Cryptanthus zonatus 'Zebrina' has wavy, six- to nine-inch leaves branded with silver-grey, irregular markings.
Since cryptanthus are small, easy to grow, and do very well under lights, they are indoor favorites. Because of their size, they are attractive growing on a decorative log. Give them intermediate to warm temperatures, filtered light, and drench and let dry.
Has reading about bromeliads encouraged you to start flexing your green thumb? For more information on gardening, see: