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Turquoise Puya

Xeronema moorei

This is a rare look at Xeronema moorei, a terrific species from remote mountains in New Caledonia.  This unusual plant has bottlebrush flower clusters that grow sideways, resembling a giant red toothbrush!  It is similar to my popular Xeronema callistemon, except it is more compact - plus it can flower sooner!  It is almost never seen in cultivation or for sale.

Xeronema moorei

Growing in the wild

The plant grows about 15 inches tall, and eventually makes a colony of offsets, which you may separate.  It has attractive, rubbery leaves that are glossy, looking somewhat like an Iris plant.  Unlike its cousin, Xeronema callistemon, it doesn't wait until it's root-bound to flower, so it tends to start blooming sooner, at about 5-6 years old.  It flowers mostly in the spring, with an upright stem from 1 to 2 feet tall.  The flowering portion is about 4-5 inches long and is bright red and tipped with orange pollen to attract pollinators.

Xeronema moorei

Like its cousin, it comes from a cooler climate.  It is untested in hot conditions, but i suspect it won't thrive if temperatures consistently get above the low 80s (28C) with nights above 65F (18C).  It might tolerate warmer days if nights are cool.  It can probably survive a light, brief frost, but i highly recommend keeping it from freezing.  It enjoys mostly-sunny conditions.  It may need some afternoon shade in warmer climates.  It grows well in a 1 gallon pot in a fast-draining, coarse mix.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part pumice or perlite.  Keep the soil evenly moist, and fertilize moderately.  Plants in the wild come from calcium-poor soils that are high in magnesium, and as a result, plants grown in normal soil can develop some yellow coloration at the base of the leaves.  But plants grow & flower just fine in normal soil.  Overall it's and easy and long-lived plant if given the right environment.

Xeronema moorei

 

Photos used with permission of Benoit Henry

 

Seeds are difficult to germinate, so i offer established plants.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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