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Turquoise Puya

Crinum variabile

Crinum variabile is a beautiful, rare bulb that should be more widely grown.  This South African native blooms in late summer or autumn, with large, pink and white flowers that have a terrific scent!  It is easy to grow, and reportedly cold-hardy to 15 degrees F (-9 degrees C).  It is a lovely collector's plant that is rarely seen for sale.

In the wild, Crinum variabile grows along streams that dry up in summer and are flooded in winter.  The plant has adapted to this by growing whenever water is available, and going dormant when it isn't.  In cultivation, it can stay evergreen if given regular water and protected from frost.  The plant is fairly compact, with leaves about 2 feet long.  The flower stalk is also about 2 feet tall, containing about 10 to 12 blooms, each 4-5 inches long.  The flowers start out white before turning pink with deep-pink streaks.  They are strongly scented.  Most Crinum species don't reproduce by offsets, however Crinum variabile is an exception, producing multiple baby bulbs.

Crinum variabile

A botanical print of Crinum variabile

In cultivation, it has handled summer temperatures in the upper 80s (31 degrees C).  I have no information about how it does in hotter conditions.  It prefers full sun, although some afternoon shade might be helpful in hotter climates.  It grows well in a tall container in well-draining soil that is kept evenly moist during the growing season.  Avoid repotting it when it nears flowering size, as this can delay flowering.

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Turquoise Puya

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