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Turquoise Puya

Hippeastrum aulicum var. robustum

From Brazil comes the lovely Hippeastrum aulicum var. robustum.  Also called "Lily of the Palace", this regal Hippeastrum lives in rainforests, where it grows as an epiphyte in trees.  Its big, scarlet and green blossom sit atop 18 inch tall stems.  This rare robustum subspecies is, as the name suggests, very robust.  It also happens to be easy to grow.

Hippeastrum aulicum var. robustum

The plant is almost evergreen, shedding its leaves each Summer, and replacing them shortly after.  Even without blooms it is very ornamental, with lush, full foliage.  There is no need to "force" the bulb, since it doesn't have a long dormancy.  There are usually 2 flowers per scape, but occasionally more.  The bold blooms are 6 inch across.  They are overlaid with intricate, crimson veins, and have a lime green star in the center.  This is a true species, not a hybrid.  It makes offsets fairly readily.  It may be crossed with some other Hippeastrums to create new hybrids.

The plant comes from a mild climate in Brazil, with temperatures similar to San Diego.  It can tolerate heat, but it prefers cool nights if days are hot.  Despite growing as an epiphyte in trees in the wild, it grows well in a pot.  A loose, airy medium is best.  A typical mix is 1 part fine grade orchid bark, 1 part pumice or perlite, and 1 part coir fiber or peat.  Add some slow-release fertilizer to the mix, or give regular, light feedings.  Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).  Filtered sun seems to be the best.  Some protection from strong afternoon sun is needed.  It also needs protection from frost.  Temperatures above 45 degrees F (7C) are best, and over about 40% humidity.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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