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Turquoise Puya

Impatiens flanaganae 

I doubt many of you have seen this one before.  Impatiens flanaganae is an endangered species from South Africa with gorgeous, orchid-shaped blooms.  The large, 2 inch flowers are displayed atop 4 to 5 foot-tall stems - at the perfect height for viewing!  This is a fascinating tuberous species that makes a huge cluster of red tubers the size of potatoes!  It is a cool-climate plant that is found only in a tiny section of coastal forest in South Africa, where it is dwindling in numbers.  This species is very rare in cultivation, and rarely seen for sale.

Impatiens flanaganae

Impatiens flanaganae is a perennial species that forms tubers to enable it to go dormant during the South African dry season.  The tubers can grow to 6 inches long.  They grow incredibly fast, and will happily break your pot if you forget to repot them!  You may keep the top of the tubers exposed so you can watch them grow!  The plants usually go dormant in winter, and new shoots appear from the tubers in the spring.  The tall, thick stems are a lovely shade of red.  The leaves are surprisingly large for Impatiens, growing up to 12 inches long!  The flowers make their appearance in the summer and autumn along the tops of the stems.  These butterfly-shaped blooms are delightful shades of rosy pink, with yellow markings inside.  Cool weather deepens the colors, and the petals can take on a lavender tint.

Impatiens flanaganae

A cluster of tubers sprouting in the Spring

Impatiens flanaganae comes from an area where the climate is always mild and nights are cool.  The plant generally lags when temperatures rise above about 85 degrees F (30 degrees C), so consider it experimental in hotter climates, especially if nights are warm.  If you can grow Clivia or Fuchsia, you should be able to grow this species.  When grown indoors, the plant can stay evergreen and flower almost all year!  Outdoors, the dormant tubers are said to be hardy down the low-20s (-5 degrees C) if planted deep.  The plant is easy to grow in a pot at least 14 inches wide.  It prefers well-filtered sun or morning sun - protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Impatiens, it likes moist, well-draining soil and regular feeding.

Impatiens flanaganae

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More growing tips for this plant are here

 

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Turquoise Puya

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