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Turquoise Puya

Medinilla succulenta 

This is a rare look at a really cool plant - Medinilla succulenta.  Discovered in the rain forests of Indonesia, this unusual species is decorated with cheerful orange berries that ripen to pink and purple.  The fruits have an odd habit of appearing directly from the branches, instead of from panicles at the end of the branches, like most Medinillas.  Botanists call this flowering habit cauliflory.  The plant is rarely seen for sale, but it's a great horticultural novelty that is easy to grow.

This member of the Melastome family grows as an epiphyte on trees in the wild, but it adapts to well-draining soil in cultivation.  It's a compact, well-shaped plant about 18 inches tall, with large, attractive leaves that are thick and glossy.  It has white flowers which are small and not very noticeable.  They are followed by pea-sized fruits that stay orange for a while before turning pink and then purple.  The branches tend to have fruit on them almost all year long!  I am told that the fruit is edible and sweet, but i have not confirmed this.

Medinilla succulenta

It grows best in intermediate to warm conditions, with days about 70 to 85F (21-30C), and nights between 60 and 70F (16-21C).  I haven't tried it in cool conditions, but i presume it won't be happy below 50F (10C) and probably can't survive frost.  It is easy to grow in a pot in a loose medium.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part fine-grade orchid bark.  Or use equal parts of coir fiber, perlite, and fine-grade bark.  Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).  Since it comes from forests, it enjoys filtered sunlight.  It might need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 50% humidity is ideal.

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Germinating the seeds

 

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Turquoise Puya

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