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Cavendishia bracteata

Cavendishia bracteata is a spectacular, rare blueberry relative that you might not have seen before.  Most of the 100 species of Cavendishia plants are rare in cultivation, despite being very showy plants.  This one puts out gorgeous clusters of pink, bottle-shaped blooms that are tipped with white.  And it does this almost all year long!  The plant comes from a mild climate and is untested in hot conditions.

Cavendishia bracteata

Cavendishia bracteata comes from mountainous areas from Mexico to South America.  It's usually found growing as an epiphyte on trees, but it adapts well to soil.  It forms a large, caudex-like root crown, and arching, woody branches that grow 10 feet long, unless pruned shorter.  Its big, evergreen leaves are very attractive - they are thick, glossy and about 6 inches long.  The plant looks great without blooms, but it's in bloom most months of the year here in San Francisco.  Each flower cluster has dense rows of glossy, inch-long blooms, and are accented by large, flaring bracts.  These large floral displays are pollinated by hummingbirds.  The plant makes attractive, edible fruit which looks like purple blueberries.  They are lightly sweet & tart, and are reportedly high in antioxidants.

Cavendishia bracteata

The plant is usually found between 1500 and 2500 meter elevation, where temperatures are mild and nights are cool.  I have no experience with it in hot conditions, but i suspect it might not thrive if temperatures consistently get above the low 80s (28C) and nights are warm (above 65F / 18C).  It can probably tolerate warmer conditions if nights are cool.  It reportedly is hardy down to 20F (-7C), but i would be very cautious about exposing it to hard frosts, especially with young plants.  It enjoys bright, filtered light.  Direct sun is fine, but protect it from strong afternoon sun.  It grows well in a pot in a loose soil mix.  A typical mix is 1 part fine-grade orchid bark, 1 part perlite or coarse sand, and 1 part coir fiber or peat.  It likes slightly-acid soil, but acid fertilizer isn't necessary unless your water is very alkaline.  Keep the soil evenly moist.  Over about 40-50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and vigorous plant.

Cavendishia bracteata

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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