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Macleania insignis

The beautiful Macleania insignis is an unusual member of the blueberry and Rhododendron family (Ericaceae).  Its highly decorative blooms almost look like Christmas decorations!  Despite its exotic look, it is an easy-to-grow plant that is a must for collectors.  It is rare in cultivation and not seen for sale very often.

Macleania insignis

Macleania insignis is found in cloud forests from Southern Mexico to Costa Rica.  It usually grows as an epiphyte on trees, but i find it adapts well to soil culture.  It forms attractive, caudex-like tubers that grow partially exposed.  Trailing branches emerge from them that are a few feet long, and are lined with thick, Hoya-like leaves.  The plant may be grown in a hanging planter and allowed to trail down, or you may train the branches upright.  The flower clusters appear in the spring and summer.  The tubular, 1 inch blooms are a vibrant shade of rosy-red, and are tipped with white and red.  They have a thick, waxy texture and are surprisingly durable.  They are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.  After flowering, large, edible fruits appear that look like purple blueberries!  They are lightly sweet, and reportedly high in antioxidants.

Macleania insignis

Macleania is found in areas with mild daytime temperatures, and nights that are cool.  I'm unsure if it will thrive if temperatures regularly get above 85 degrees F (29C), especially if nights are warm.  It can probably tolerate a light frost, but i recommend keeping it from freezing.  It grows well in a pot in a loose soil mix kept evenly moist.  A typical mix is equal parts of fine-grade orchid bark, potting soil or coir fiber, and perlite  or coarse sand.  It likes slightly acid soil, so don't add lime to the mix.  If your tap water is very "hard" (high in minerals), use a fertilizer for acid-growing plants.   Part sun is preferred by this cloudforest plant.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is best.

Macleania insignis

 

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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