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Turquoise Puya

Salvia libanensis

This is a close look at the spectacular, rare Salvia libanensis from the mountain cloud forests of Colombia.  This large bush makes gorgeous stalks of scarlet blooms throughout winter and spring.  It also has terrific foliage with a soft, fuzzy texture.  Unfortunately this is an endangered species, with only 4 populations left in Colombia.  It is new to cultivation and is untested in warm climates.

Salvia libanensis

Salvia libanensis forms a handsome, well-shaped bush about 6 feet tall here in San Francisco.  Its thick, heart-shaped leaves are about 4-5 inches long and are covered on both sides with soft hairs - especially the undersides, which are silvery-white.  Blooms can appear throughout the year, but the heaviest show is during winter & spring.  They appear along 6 to 8 inch long racemes, and their bright red bracts look great even without petals, as you can see below.  Like many plants in Colombia, this one has almost disappeared due to deforestation, to make way for crops like coffee and illegal drugs.

Salvia libanensis

It has been found between 1,800 and 2,600 meter elevation, where the climate is mild all year and nights are cool.  It's possible that hot temperatures with warm nights might stress it, so consider it experimental above 85 degrees F (29 C) with warm nights.  It comes from a frost-free climate, and i don't know if has frost tolerance.  This cloud forest bush prefers part sun, with some protection from strong afternoon sun.  It enjoys well-draining soil that is kept evenly moist.  Above about 50% humidity is recommended.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and very enjoyable plant.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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