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Turquoise Puya

Agapetes serpens

Here's another strange, wonderful thing from Strange Wonderful Things :-)   Agapetes serpens is an unusual rarity with long, arching stems that are adorned with scarlet, jewel-like blossoms.  The fascinating patterns and large caudex make this a very attractive show plant!  It is native to the cool Himalayas and might not thrive in warm climates.  If you can provide the right conditions, it's a rewarding plant that is rarely seen for sale.

Agapetes serpens

Agapetes serpens

The fully-open flowers

Agapetes ( pronounced "ag-uh-PET-eez") is an odd member of the Blueberry family (Ericaceae).  It forms a large, caudex-like base up to 6 inches across.  From the base emerges long, arching, evergreen branches about 3 to 5 feet long.  The branches themselves are beautiful, with their artistic rows of small, closely-spaced leaves often tinged with red.  The delightful blooms appear from about February through June, and occasionally other times of the year.  The inflated, 1 inch flowers have an interesting chevron pattern, and almost resemble little Chinese lanterns.  After flowering, attractive berries appear that look like lavender pearls!

Agapetes serpens

Agapetes serpens

The caudex-like base

Agapetes comes from the cool foothills of the Himalayas, where temperatures range from about 32 to 80 degrees F, with cool nights.  I suspect that it might not thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85F (29C), particularly if nights are above 65F (18C).  It probably can survive several degrees of frost, but it's happiest if kept above freezing.  It grows well indoors in a pot or hanging planter.  It appreciates some sun, but give it some protection from strong, afternoon sun.  It prefers a slightly-acidic, well-draining soil mix that's kept evenly moist.  Over about 40-45% humidity is best.

Agapetes serpens

 

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