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Turquoise Puya

Scadoxus pole-evansii

This is a close look at the beautiful Scadoxus pole-evansii.  This unusual member of the Amaryllis family is almost unknown in cultivation.  Its spectacular, radiating cluster of flowers rises above attractive leaves that resemble a mini banana plant.  This showy species is found only in small section of forest in Zimbabwe.  It is rarely seen for sale.

The plant is closely related to Clivia, and has similar roots that are thick and orchid-like.  Its bulb-like rhizome sends up fleshy leaves from 2 to 4 feet tall.  The leaves are often dropped in spring, and the new leaves emerge in summer, around the same time as the flower stem.  The stem is 2 to 3 feet tall and contains about 50-60 scarlet flowers.  After flowering, it makes large, attractive, red berries, which are spread by monkeys in the wild.  Mature plants make offsets, which may be separated.  The plant may be cross-bred with other Scadoxus species to create new hybrids.

Scadoxus pole-evansii

It comes from mountain forests, where temperatures are mild all year and nights are cool.  It likes similar conditions to intermediate- and cool-temperature orchids.  I don't know anyone growing it in a hot climate but it's possible that temperatures over 85F (29C) may stress it if nights are above 65F (18C).  It needs protection from frost.  It grows well in a pot in a loose, chunky mix that drains quickly, similar to Clivia.  A typical mix is 1 part orchid bark (fine- or medium-grade), 1 part pumice or perlite, and 1 part soilless potting mix.  Keep the roots evenly moist.  This forest plant does best in shade or dappled sunlight.  Protect it from strong sun exposure.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  By the way, Scadoxus plants contain a toxin, so keep them away from small children and pets.

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Photos used with permission of Martin Grantham

 

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Turquoise Puya

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