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Turquoise Puya

Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus

This is a close look at the rare Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus, a beautiful Amaryllis relative that's virtually unknown in cultivation.  Its vivid, bell-shaped flowers are exceptionally gorgeous, like a chandelier of flowers!  The plant is found only in the cool mountains of Uganda and neighboring Congo.  It is almost never seen for sale.  People have been asking me for it for years, and i'm glad to finally have it available.

Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus

 Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus grows about 2 feet tall, with foliage somewhat resembling a ginger plant.  Like its cousin, Clivia, it has thick, orchid-like roots, and grows in shaded forests.  The plant multiplies readily with pups.  Around summer, it sends up a tall stalk containing 20 to 30 blooms that dangle in a circular formation.  The 1.5 inch flowers are bright scarlet, with green on the top half.  After flowering, it makes bright red berries similar to other Scadoxus.

Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus

The plant comes from about 2600 to 3000 meter elevation, where temperatures are cool or mild all year, and nights are cool.  I have no information on how it will do in warm conditions, so consider it experimental if temperatures regularly get above the low 80s (28 degrees C), especially if nights are warm.  Its roots probably can handle down to the mid-20s (-4 degrees C) but it's best to protect it from freezing temperatures.  

It is easy to grow in a pot in a loose, fertile soil mix, similar to Clivia.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil, 1 part orchid bark (fine- or medium-grade), and 1 part pumice or perlite.  Keep the soil evenly moist.  This forest plant prefers bright shade or filtered sunlight.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 50% humidity is recommended.  Note that the leaves and berries might be toxic like some other Scadoxus species, so keep pets and small kids from munching on them.

Photo used with permission. 1 & 2 by Jonathan Hutchinson, #3 by Rachel Saunders

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Turquoise Puya

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