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Turquoise Puya

Drymonia pendula

You would think a plant this showy would be famous!  Drymonia pendula is a rarely-seen African Violet relative that makes dangling flower clusters that are quite spectacular.  Their orangey blossoms topped with large reddish bracts hang from super-long stems, creating a great visual show along an arbor or a hanging planter.  I find it to be very easy to grow if given some warmth and humidity.  The plant is usually only found in botanical gardens and is rarely seen for sale.

Drymonia pendula

Drymonia pendula comes from rainforests of South America, where it grows as an epiphyte.  Despite being epiphytic, it has adapted quite well to soil for me.  It sends out long, wandering shoots lined with large leaves that are thick & leathery.  Its pendulous flowering habit is quite unusual for Gesneriads.  Each stem is about 9 to 12 inches long and holds several flowers, which open over a long period.  The tubular blooms are capped with several large reddish bracts, which presumably attract hummingbirds in the wild.  Even the fruit is showy!  See here for a picture of the bright yellow & red fruit.

It comes from lower elevations in the tropics, and enjoys mild to warm temperatures - approximately 70-85F during the day, and 60-70F at night.  I don't have info on how it will do outside that temperature range.  It grows well in bright, filtered light, and probably will need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  You may tie the shoots along a trellis or let them wander where they want, trimming them back whenever they get too long.  I grow it in a well-draining soil mix that's kept evenly moist.  A typical mix is 3 parts perlite to 2 part coir fiber.  An alternate mix is equal parts of potting soil and perlite.  Over about 50-60% humidity seems to be best.  In the right conditions, it's a surprisingly durable plant.

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