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Turquoise Puya

Anthopterus wardii

The rare Anthopterus wardii is a great piece of botanical eye candy!  This unusual blueberry relative from Central & South America makes showy clusters of intense scarlet blooms accented by white & black tips.  The inflated blossoms have a glossy, waxy texture that gives them a wet look.  After flowering, it makes attractive, purple berries!  I find the plant to be easy to grow.  It is hardly ever seen for sale.  I don't know anyone else currently offering it.

Anthopterus wardii

The plant makes long, arching shoots that can grow 15 feet or more, although they may be pruned to any size you wish.  Its an attractive plant even without blooms, with its glossy, thick leaves and reddish new growth.  The clusters of inch-long blooms appear in waves throughout the year.  The name Anthopterus is Greek for "winged flower", in reference to the flaring calyx.  Its color is unusually intense, almost fluorescent.  The showy fruits that follow are bright purple.  Researchers have found that they contain one of the highest antioxidant levels of all neotropical blueberries, as this article explains.  It is unclear though whether the fruit is edible (some species are toxic).

Anthopterus wardii

It comes from low- to mid-elevation tropical forests, so it appreciates warm to mild conditions, with a drop in temperature at night, similar to warm- and intermediate-growing orchids.  I have no experience with it in cold conditions, and i presume it can't tolerate frost.  It grows well in a pot or hanging planter in a loose medium that is slightly acidic.  A typical mix is 1 part peat moss, 1 part perlite or coarse sand, and 1 part fine-grade orchid bark.  Keep the mix evenly moist (but not soggy).  It prefers bright, filtered light.  It can handle some direct sun, but protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  It may be grown in a terrarium if given some air movement.  In the right conditions, it is an easy plant.

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Turquoise Puya

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