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Turquoise Puya

Puya 

Welcome to the spectacular, rare Bromeliad, Puya chilensis - the Chilean Puya.  Looking like a radioactive tiki torch, this Pineapple relative lights up each Spring with a massive cluster of shocking, chartreuse-yellow flowers.  These other-worldly stalks can reach 12 feet tall!  A stunning landscape plant, the Chilean Puya also has a bit of frost hardiness.  Unfortunately, this beautiful species is disappearing fast in its natural habitat and is approaching extinction.

 

The Chilean Puya is an evergreen that grows about 5-6 feet wide.  It has long, aloe-like leaves that are lined with spines.  It is believed that the spines function to trap small animals, which then become fertilizer for the plant.  Whatever the purpose, they are quite sharp, so move carefully around the plant.  The flower clusters themselves are downy soft.  These strangely colored blooms with their bright orange anthers appear by the hundreds in April or May.  They are pollinated by birds, which love to sit on the outward-pointing tips and drink the sweet nectar inside. This is an "extra tall" form, with a flowering portion that can be over 4 feet long, and a total height of 10 to 12 feet!

Puyas are terrestrial Bromeliads that are easy to raise.  They can grow in cactus soil or well-draining potting soil.  They prefer full sun, but some afternoon shade might be needed in hotter climates.  Note that it comes from a cool climate, so very hot conditions might stress it, especially if nights are warm.  It can be grown in a large container and moved into a greenhouse for the winter.  Over the years, it forms a large colony of offshoots.  Adult plants are said to survive down to 20 degrees F (7C), but they will perform best if protected from hard frosts, especially the first 2-3 years.  They can reach flowering size in 6 or 7 years, although the norm is more like 8 to 12.  Your patience will pay off when you witness the outrageous blooms!

 

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Turquoise Puya

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