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Turquoise Puya

Cryptostephanus vansonii

This is a close look at the beautiful Cryptostephanus vansonii.  This native of southern African forests is closely related to the well-known Clivia, and looks quite similar to it, but with lighter colored blossoms.  It happens to be easier to grow than Clivia and blooms at a younger age!  It is very rare in cultivation, and seldom seen for sale.

Cryptostephanus vansonii

Like Clivia, Cryptostephanus has thick, orchid-like roots, but the plant is more compact, with leaves growing 1 to 2 feet long and an inch wide.  Some great pictures of it growing in the wild are here.  The plants can flower at just 2 or 3 years old.  The flower stalk typically has 20 to 30 blooms.  The flower color is soft pink on my form, but a pure white form also exists.  Mine blooms multiple times per year, during any season!  After flowering, it makes attractive, red berries, similar to Clivia.  It does not seem to cross-breed with Clivia, although it might with in-vitro fertilization ("embryo rescue").  This would make a very interesting hybrid!

It has similar cultural requirements as Clivia, growing best in mild temperatures with cool nights.  I don't have information on how much heat it can take, but it's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) with nights above 65 degrees F (18 C).  It needs protection from frost.  It grows well in a 1 to 2 gallon (4 to 8 liter) pot and does not mind being root-bound.  It prefers a loose growing medium, similar to Clivia.  A typical mix is 1 part fine bark, 1 part potting soil or compost, and 1 part perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.  Try to keep the mix evenly moist most (but not soggy).  It likes filtered sun or morning sun.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Unlike Clivia, it does not need temperatures as cool in winter to trigger flowering.

Cryptostephanus vansonii

 

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Turquoise Puya

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