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Turquoise Puya

Peacock orchid

This lovely gem is Pleione formosana - the Peacock Orchid!  This native of Taiwan and China comes into bloom around March or April, with exquisite, large flowers that are almost as big as the plant!  If you're not good at growing orchids, try this one!  This soil-growing orchid is easy to grow when given the right conditions.

Pleione formosana

Photo by Stan Shebs

Pleione (pronounced plee-OH-nee) grows from a pseudobulb, which grows on the soil surface.  It multiply easily, eventually forming a dense carpet of plants.  They come out of dormancy in early spring, sending up a single, creased leaf about 6 inches tall, and one or two large flowers.  You may grow the plants individually in small pots for a minimalist, Zen-like look, or grouped in a large planting for a bolder statement.  The flowers are 3 inches across and have gorgeous lilac-pink petals.  Their white tubular mouth is attractively fringed, and has yellow and brown markings inside.  In autumn, the pseudobulbs go dormant until the following spring, when the show repeats itself.

Pleione formosana

The Peacock Orchid originates from cool, misty mountains.  It is reported to tolerate temperatures in the 90s (35) provided that nights are cool.  The plant might not thrive if both days and nights are warm.  During the winter dormant period, the pseudobulbs should be moved indoors if temperatures fall below freezing.  The plants normally grow on the forest floor, so they do best with filtered sunlight or early morning sun.  Protect them from afternoon sun.  They may be grown in a small pot in well-draining soil that is high in organic matter, such as 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite.  They have a small root system and should be given regular watering during the growing season.  Over about 50% humidity is recommended.

Pleione formosana

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Turquoise Puya

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