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Turquoise Puya

"Elephant's Foot" Impatiens from Thailand

This rare guy doesn't have a name, so i'm calling it the "Elephant's Foot" Impatiens!  This unusual plant was recently discovered in Thailand.  It forms a large, corky caudex, similar to the "elephant's foot" Dioscorea.  I've offered the green-leafed form of this plant before, but this one has dramatic, burgundy-green leaves!  It is a super-handsome plant and would make a great show plant.  I don't know anyone else offering it.

"Elephant's Foot" Impatiens from Thailand

It looks somewhat like my Impatiens mirabilis, however this is a different species that doesn't seem to have been named yet.  I don't know how large the tubers are capable of growing, but mine is currently 5 inches across and continues to grow slowly.  The surface develops cracks as it grows, giving it a great scaly texture.  It tends to go dormant for a few months each year, unlike Impatiens mirabilis.  The leaves are glossy, and in bright light they turn dark burgundy, which contrasts well with the blooms.  The 1 inch flowers are creamy white with some burgundy markings both inside and out.  It flowers almost constantly for me!  It might be able to cross-breed with some other Impatiens species to create new hybrids.

"Elephant's Foot" Impatiens from Thailand

It grows well for me indoors between 60 and 80 degrees F (16-27C).  I have no knowledge of how it will do outside that temperature range.  It seems to prefer a fast-draining soil mix, such as cactus mix.  A typical mix is 2 parts pumice rock, 3 parts perlite or coarse sand, and 1 part coir fiber or peat.  Keep the mix evenly moist at all times, but don't keep it too wet while it's dormant.  It likes bright, filtered light.  It can handle some sun, but it will need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and long-lived plant.

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