Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cryptanthus Pups

I love bromeliads, especially the oh-so-collectible Cryptanthus, or earth stars. Right now I have three that are producing pups, offshoots that will form their own plants in time. Actually, I just took a count and I only have seven different kinds. That number just seems too small, doesn't it?

This first one I received unlabeled, but I think it's Crypthanthus fosterianus or a close hybrid. I've been watching the center develop flower buds for some time now, and I've been keeping an eye out for pups, too.

Unlike many bromeliads, most cryptanthus don't change color significantly or produce flowering stalks with showy bracts. The flowers are typically white, like the one below. A cute little curiosity, but more exciting because it signifies pups are on the way than for its own sake.

A couple weeks ago, before the first flower opened, I noticed the first pup emerging as a single, scale-like leaf down at the base of a leaf. Since then, I've watched it grow into the tiny shoot you see below. I've counted at least four other pups starting around the plant. That's a happy cryptanthus! Once they grow to at least a couple inches across, I'll be able to detach them from the mother plant and put them in their own pots to root.


Cryptanthus lacerdae 'Menescal' has only been in my collection for about a year, but it's already showing signs of pupping. Some bromeliads pup at or around the time they bloom. This one, however, shows no signs of blooming and I believe it can pup pretty much any time. Cryptanthus lacerdae is a bit of an oddball, producing pups on long stems, something like a spiderplant. Take a look at the second picture on Black Jungle Terrarium Supply's website, from which I purchased my 'Menescal'. I think my plant would look fantastic in something like a miniature hover dish. The main plant is only about 6 inches across, and bromeliads have small root systems, so I think an actual hover dish would be a bit too large.

See the tiny little pup starting? I hope it's the first of many pups on long, pendant stems. Unlike the other two cryptanthus in this post, I am going to horde the pups of 'Menascal' a little, though once I have plenty of pups for a spidery display I'll be happy to share a few of them, too.

Cryptanthus 'Opal' has long-since bloomed and produced pups. This earth star grew much larger than I expected, with some leaves curling to a foot long. Part of that is that it grew in a bit too shady conditions and stretched longer than it would have otherwise. But I think it's also just a big cryptanthus. 

Either way, the pups produced after blooming have grown large enough to separate from the mother plant, so I can downsize and have a little more space on the table.

 These pups separate easily from the parent plant, coming off with a gentle twist and pull. I use a typical potting soil with extra perlite or pumice mixed in to improve drainage. Cactus soil mixes work well, too. I removed a few of the lower leaves because I think that exposes more stem for rooting, but it's probably not necessary. Then I just stick the pups in the pot and water them lightly. I don't remember how long it takes them to root, but I don't really worry about it because they're so easy.

The monster, I mean mother, plant is going to live outside for the summer. I'm keeping it only on the off chance that with the three pups removed, it could produce more. It won't be coming back inside at the end of summer because now that it has bloomed, the main plant will likely decline and die.

I've always appreciated 'Opal' for its silvery color, but out in the natural light I really noticed why it was named 'Opal'. There's a subtle rainbow of colors under the overall silver/grey sheen produced by the coating of scales on the leaves, just like an opal.

 I also have a very overgrown Cryptanthus 'Black Mystic'. I wouldn't be surprised if it had over two dozen plants in the clump. I keep meaning to divide it. When I do, I'll have lots to share.


12 comments:

  1. You do know how to make friends and influence people. We'll be lining up to take some of those pups off your hands. Quite a breeding program you have going there. Would you ever be popular at one of our swaps.

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    1. I was invited to a plant swap last year and wasn't able to make it. I'd love to join in!

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    2. Consider yourself invited to all bloggers' plant swaps from now on. We usually do our planning on Facebook.

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    3. Thanks! Loree just added me to the group.

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  2. It's so easy to get into them as they're such a cute group of bromeliads :)

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  3. You have quite the collection! I've never seen one flower.

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    1. Thanks, Kris. I like the flowers, but they really aren't all that.

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  4. These are such interesting and handsome plants! I've been drooling over some with amazing markings and vibrant colors on a Florida nursery's website (they do mail order.) Must stop! Have too many plants!

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    1. Could that nursery be Seabreeze? I've purchased a few plants from them. They have the biggest selection of any place I've found. I've been trying to whittle my wishlist down to 6 or so plants for another order.

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  5. Darn, I thought you knew about this years swap!!! I was last weekend and we would have loved to have had you there, plants or no plants.

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    1. Don't feel bad. I spaced out about even asking when it was. I had a busy weekend working in the garden, anyway. ;)

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