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Turquoise Puya

Psammisia sodiroi

Bundles of color!  This is a close look at the beautiful Psammisia sodiroi from rain forests around Ecuador.  This unusual blueberry relative makes showy clusters of red blooms with lime green tips that are star-shaped.  These colorful blooms hang from orange flower stems under each leaf.  This is another prized collector's plant that's rarely seen in cultivation, except in a few botanical gardens.  I don't know anyone else offering it.

Psammisia sodiroi

In the wild, it grows both as an epiphyte on trees and in the ground.  It's a robust plant, with long, arching stems that get 10-12 feet long - which you may prune shorter if necessary.  Its large leaves are thick and leathery, growing about 8 inches long.  The flower clusters appear most months of the year.  Each cluster is about 2 inches long and usually has between 5 and 15 blooms, which are thick & waxy.  These tubular blooms are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.  After pollination it makes small berries which are reportedly edible.

It grows well between about 55 and 85F (13-29C).  It can probably grow outdoors in Florida and Southern California if protected from frost.  It likes very bright, filtered light.  Some direct sun is fine if it isn't strong.  It prefers a loose, "chunky" soil mix that's slightly acidic.  A typical mix is 1 part small-grade orchid bark, 1 part peat moss or coco fiber, and 1 part perlite, coarse sand, or pumice rock.  Keep the soil evenly moist.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy, vigorous plant.

 

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Photos used with permission of Martin Grantham

 

 

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Turquoise Puya

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