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Turquoise Puya

Clinanthus variegatus (Stenomesson variegatum)

You aren't likely to find this gem in your local nurseries.  Clinanthus incarnatus is a stunning rare bulb from Peru that's related to Hippeastrums and Crinums (Amaryllidaceae family).  Each summer it puts out big, bold blooms that are almost 4 inches long.  The trumpet-shaped blossoms are a vibrant shade of pinkish-red, and have a curious gray stripe at the tip of each petal.  This is a cool-climate species.  If you can provide the right environment for it, it's an easy and very exciting bulb to grow.

Clinanthus variegatus (Stenomesson variegatum)

Clinanthus (formerly Stenomesson) is a summer-growing bulb that usually goes dormant in winter.  It has long, strap-like leaves that get to 2 feet long.  The leaves are not variegated, despite the species name "variegatus".  At some point between late spring and early autumn, the plant sends up a large, 2-foot flower spike, and 4 to 8 blooms spill out one at a time.  The flower color can appear more like salmon or coral, depending on the lighting and temperature.  This is a robust species with a very good presence in the garden.  Over time, it makes many baby bulbs, which you may separate.

Clinanthus variegatus / Stenomesson variegatum

Clinanthus comes from high elevations in the Andes, where the climate is cool all year.  It is said to dislike heat, and may not perform well if summer temperatures are consistently above the low 80s (29C), especially if nights are warm.  It grows well indoors indoors, provided that the air isn't too dry.  Outdoors, the dormant bulb can probably tolerate several degrees of frost if kept dry, although it's best to move it indoors in winter.  During the summer growing season, full sun is preferred in cooler climates, and some afternoon shade in warmer areas.  Well-draining soil is best, such as equal parts of potting soil and perlite.  Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).  It will flower in a 1 gallon pot, although a larger pot is needed if you allow the offsets to grow in place.  The plant may try to stay evergreen if grown in a greenhouse, but it will flower better after a dormant period, so encourage dormancy by allowing the soil to dry out in winter and moving the pot to a cool area (40-60F / 4-16C).

Clinanthus variegatus / Stenomesson variegatum

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Turquoise Puya

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