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Turquoise Puya

Cestrum guatemalensis

Cestrum guatemalensis is a beautiful, rare species from Guatemala and southern Mexico that is almost unknown in cultivation.  Which is a shame, because this choice species is decorated with long, dangling panicles of creamy-yellow blooms with burgundy bracts throughout the year.  After flowering, the show continues when gorgeous, white berries cover the plant!  Freshly picked seeds are rarely seen for sale.

Cestrum guatemalensis

Cestrum guatemalensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree with an upright shape, growing about 15 feet tall here in San Francisco.  Its attractive leaves are long and glossy.  The heaviest blooming period is winter, although it usually has at least a few blooms open most months of the year.  The graceful flower clusters can grow 12 inches long or more.  The tubular blooms are about an inch long, with star-shaped petals that flare outward.  The blooms have a thick, waxy texture and a light fragrance.  The egg-shaped berries that follow are large and pure-white.  It's an odd sight to see hundreds of these white eggs covering the plant!  This is a non-invasive Cestrum species. 

Cestrum guatemalensis

Cestrum guatemalensis comes mid- to high-elevations, where the climate is mild all year and and nights are cool.  I have no information on how much heat it can take, but a related species has been grown successfully in warm places like Florida.  Still, consider it experimental in hot climates with warm nights.  I don't know its frost tolerance.  It grows best above 40 degrees F, although it is probably hardy to 25-30 degrees F (-3C).

Cestrum guatemalensis

It comes from dense forests, so it enjoys filtered sunlight.  Protection from strong afternoon sun might be needed, especially in warmer conditions.  It grows well in a container, and may be pruned to any size that's convenient.  Use well-draining soil of good fertility, and keep it evenly moist.  Avoid letting the soil dry out completely.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.  By the way, the leaves and fruit of some Cestrum species are toxic if eaten, so i recommend keeping small children and pets away from this plant.

Cestrum guatemalensis

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Turquoise Puya

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