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Description: Cryptanthus Melanie.
Plants may or may not have roots, but will be sent bare rooted if the do. Plants may range in colour and size (as seen in the photos). Plants may or may not be in flower, or have flowered. If they have flowered, they will quickly start putting out offsets or “Pups”.
The name is from the Greek words “cryptos” (hidden) & “anthos” (flower). There are approx 66 species which come mainly from eastern Brazil.
They are terrestrial & a few are saxicolous (grow among rocks). They have low spreading rosettes which are nearly flat & don’t hold any water. They grow in widely varied conditions.
Temperature: Prefer 4-38 degrees C & are not cold tolerant. They need to be kept warm in winter.
Light: Bright indirect light suits most: 55-75% shade cloth in sunny climates. If too little light they will lose colour & markings - if too much they will burn. They grow well as accent pieces in a well lit bathroom or above the kitchen sink where the humidity is generally greater.
Fertiliser: Use a controlled release fertiliser in or on top of the potting mix. Cryptanthus benefit from more nitrogen then most bromeliads & a more balanced N & K is beneficial. Some growers are of the opinion that these bromeliads don’t benefit from foliar fertiliser as they do not have as many trichomes on the leaves. Others prefer to use ¼ to ½ strength foliar fertiliser on a regular basis. Some use both controlled release & weak foliar.
Water: Keep the medium moist at all times. They suffer if dried out for extended periods.
Potting: They require a more water retentive medium than other bromeliads – one that is similar to an African Violet mix – but it must still be free draining. We add extra peat moss to our basic mix of coco peat & composted pine bark. As they are terrestrial we recommend having some humus in the mix. Others add sand to pine bark. Water retaining crystals are sometimes used eg Saturade which does not swell up. Use larger squat pots (130mm -165mm) to accommodate the spreading & shallow root system which is at least the width of the plant. As terrestrials they are not suitable for mounting.