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Turquoise Puya

Greyia sutherlandii

Some flowers call your attention - this one shouts for it!  Greyia sutherlandii - the South African Bottlebrush - is a rare bush with huge, eye-opening flower clusters.  Even without blooms, this a first-rate plant, with attractive, woody stems, and thick, Geranium-like leaves with a rubbery texture.  The plant is rare in cultivation, and very hard to find.  I'd like to see more people growing this uncommon gem.

Greyia sutherlandii

Greyia sutherlandii is a bush or small tree from the mountains of eastern South Africa.  It reportedly grows 20 feet tall in the wild, but in cultivation it gets to about 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  It is very handsome plant, thanks to its attractive leaves and wavy stems.  The plant drops at least some of its leaves in winter, and the flowers emerge in early spring, either while the branches are bare, or after the new leaves have grown in.  The bottlebrush-shaped clusters are very large - to 6 inches long or more - and are made up of dozens of 5-petaled flowers.  These brilliant scarlet blooms attract all kinds of birds and insects - and people too!

Natal Bottlebrush

It comes from a climate with mild daytime temperatures and cool nights.  I have no information on how much heat it can take, so consider it experimental in areas that regularly get above 85 degrees F (29 C), particularly if nights are warm.  It is said to handle several degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from prolonged frosts.  It grows well indoors in a pot in an ordinary, well-draining soil mix kept evenly moist.  It prefers full sun here in cool San Francisco, but some afternoon shade may be needed in warmer climates.  Over about 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it is an easy and long-lived plant.

Natal Bottlebrush

 

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Turquoise Puya

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