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Turquoise Puya

Squamopappus skutchii - Guatemalan Sunflower Bush

It may have a funny-sounding name, but Squamopappus skutchii is worthy of any rare plant collection.  This lovely sunflower relative is new to cultivation and doesn't have a common name yet, so i'm calling it the Guatemalan Sunflower Bush.  It becomes filled with clusters of golden yellow blooms throughout winter, when most other plants are lacking color.  It comes from cool mountain cloud-forests in Guatemala and it is untested in warm climates.  It is very rare, even in the wild.  Seeds can be difficult to grow, so i offer established plants.

Squamopappus skutchii - Guatemalan Sunflower Bush

Squamopappus is an upright bush or small tree that grows about 16 feet tall here in San Francisco, although it may be pruned to any height that is convenient.  It is closely related to the rare Podachaenium, and was once considered part of that genus.  In winter, the plant makes rounded clusters of blooms that have a light fragrance.  The blooms are a favorite of honey bees.

Squamopappus skutchii - Guatemalan Sunflower Bush

It comes from mountain cloud forests of Guatemala, where daytime temperatures are usually in the 60s or 70s, and nights are cool but frost-free.  I don't know what it's capable of handling, but it's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures regularly get above the low-80s (28 degrees C), especially if nights are warm.  It probably can survive a few degrees of frost, but since it flowers in winter, i recommend protecting it from freezing temperatures.  It is easy to grow indoors in a pot.  It likes well-draining soil that is kept evenly moist.  Like most cloud forest plants, it prefers filtered sunlight, or morning sun + bright shade.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.

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Turquoise Puya

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