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Turquoise Puya

Cyrtanthus falcatus

The striking Cyrtanthus falcatus from South Africa puts on an impressive display of colorful blooms each spring.  The flowers of this Amaryllis relative face downward due to a curious bend in the flower stem, which looks like an umbrella handle.  The blooms are surprisingly large for Cyrtanthus species, and have an array of pastel shades of orange, green, and cream.  This is an excellent bulb that is easy to grow if given the right conditions.  Seeds are almost never seen for sale.

Cyrtanthus falcatus

It makes a large bulb that is shaped somewhat like a bowling pin, which grows half exposed above the soil line.  It goes dormant each winter and then grows from spring through autumn, typically making 4 strap-like leaves which are glossy.  The flower stem emerges around the same time as the leaves in spring.  The burgundy flower stem is about a foot tall, and contains about 8-10 blooms, each 2 inches long.  This species may be cross-bred with some other Cyrtanthus species to create interesting new hybrids.

Cyrtanthus falcatus

From spring through autumn, it grows best in mild to warm temperatures, and cool nights.  It can tolerate hotter conditions provided that nights are cool.  I suspect that it might not thrive if nights are warm (above 65F/18C).  During winter, the dormant bulb should be protected from frost and kept relatively dry.  It prefers filtered sun or morning sun, with protection from strong afternoon sun.  It grows well in a 1 gallon (4 liter) pot in a fast-draining soil mix.  A typical mix is 1 part pumice rock, 2 parts coarse sand, and 1 part compost or coir fiber.  Most cactus soils should work well too.  Keep the soil evenly moist during the growing season.  It is rarely bothered by pests.

Cyrtanthus falcatus

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Germinating the seeds

 

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Turquoise Puya

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