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Turquoise Puya

Cavendishia micayensis

Welcome to the amazing Cavendishia micayensis from Ecuador and Colombia.  This unusual blueberry relative makes bizarre flower clusters that sort of resemble pink pine cones!  These apple-sized clusters are densely layered with bright-pink bracts that fade to white, like some genetically-engineered artichoke.  Green-tipped, tubular flowers peek out from between the bracts, creating an impressive hummingbird feeder.  This is a prized collector's plant that is seldom seen outside of a few botanical gardens.  It is almost never seen for sale.

Cavendishia micayensis

The plant makes arching branches lined with large, leathery leaves that are very attractive.  It looks great when grown in a hanging basket, as seen here.  The flower clusters appear throughout much of the year, usually one or two to a branch tip.  The 3 inch long clusters are very long-lasting, and would make an intriguing cut flower.  After flowering it makes whitish berries which are probably edible, but i cannot guarantee this.

It's usually found between 500 and 2000 meter elevation in the Andes, where day temperatures are mild and nights are cool.  In cultivation, it grows well with days between 60 and 85F (15-29C), and nights between 50 and 65F (10-18C).  It might be able to tolerate warmer conditions if nights are cool.  It reportedly can survive a light, brief frost, but it's best to protect the plant from freezing temperatures.  It likes very bright, filtered light.  Give it some protection from strong afternoon sun.  It prefers a loose soil mix that's slightly acidic.  A typical mix is 1 part fine-grade orchid bark, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite, coarse sand, or pumice rock.  Keep the soil evenly moist.  Over about 40-45% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and vigorous plant.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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