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Turquoise Puya

Columnea arguta (Lipstick Plant)

Welcome to the spectacular Columnea ornata from the rain forests of Costa Rica.  This showy African Violet relative makes big, fuzzy, velvety blooms that look sort of like bright red lipstick.  This is a robust species that grows over 3 feet tall, with woody stems and large, attractive leaves.  It flowers almost non-stop all year for me!  This is an excellent collector's plant that happens to be easy to grow.  I don't know anyone in the US currently offering it.

Columnea ornata (Lipstick Plant)

Columnea ornata grows as an epiphyte on trees in the wild, but it adapts well to soil culture.  It has a strong, upright growth habit and doesn't usually need support thanks to its husky stems.  Both the leaves and the flowers tend to face one side of the plant.  Everything on the plant is covered in soft hairs, including the stems & leaves.  The 5-inch leaves have somewhat of an oily sheen on top.  The tubular blossoms are just over 2 inches long and have feathery bracts at the base.  I presume they are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.  This species should be able to cross-breed with some other Columneas to create great new hybrids.

Columnea arguta (Lipstick Plant)

This is a tropical species that likes mild to warm conditions all year.  It grows great for me indoors with day temperatures in the mid-70s (24C) and nights in the mid-60s (18C).  I haven't tried it in cooler conditions, but i suspect it will be unhappy below 50F (10C), and i doubt it can survive frost.  It likes bright, filtered light, with protection from strong sun.  Give it a loose soil mix that's kept evenly moist.  A typical soil mix is 3 parts perlite to 2 parts coir fiber or peat moss.  Or use equal parts of potting soil and fine-grade orchid bark.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's a pretty durable plant.

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