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Podachaenium eminens - Giant Tree Daisy

In the dense cloud forests of Central America and Mexico, the competition for sunlight has created plants that grow abnormally huge!  A great example of this gigantism is the Giant Tree Daisy - Podachaenium eminens.  This wacky daisy relative grows 25 feet tall, with oversized, scented leaves that get almost 2 feet across.  Its flower clusters are equally large, with platter-sized sprays of pretty, white & orange blooms.  You'll almost certainly be the only one in your neighborhood with this plant.  It is very rare in cultivation.  Freshly picked seeds are rarely seen for sale.

Podachaenium eminens - Giant Tree Daisy

Podachaenium eminens - Giant Tree Daisy

The Giant Tree Daisy is a woody, evergreen species with a strong vertical growth habit.  It gets around 25 feet tall here in San Francisco, and probably larger in the wild.  You may prune away the lower branches for a tall, tree-like shape, or trim the top to keep it short & bushy.  The leaves have a terrific, spicy scent when rubbed, sort of like pineapple!  The flowers appear throughout spring and summer.  Each cluster gets about 15 inches across, with dozens of daisy-like blooms.  While they're certainly pretty, the plant doesn't need flowers to have horticultural appeal.  Its bigness adds an unusual tropical flair to the garden.

Podachaenium eminens - Giant Daisy Tree

It grows in highlands from Mexico to Costa Rica, where temperatures are cooler than the lowlands.  But unlike some other cloud forest plants, this one seems more tolerant of heat.  It has handled temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s (33 degrees C).  It is certainly worth a try in warmer climates like Florida, although it's possible that it won't bloom due to the heat.  Frost will damage the foliage, but the plant can probably take at least several degrees of frost (-3 degrees C), with new growth emerging from the base.  Still, i recommend protecting it from frost. 

It grows well indoors in a large pot, and may be pruned to a few feet tall if necessary.  It prefers filtered sunlight or morning sun, with some protection from strong afternoon sun.  The leaves seem to grow the largest in shade.  Grow it in fertile, well-draining soil that's kept evenly moist.  It might not thrive in very dry air - over about 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's a very vigorous plant.

Podachaenium eminens - Giant Tree Daisy

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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