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Turquoise Puya

Cochliostema odoratissimum

Welcome to the awesome Cochliostema odoratissimum from rain forests around Ecuador.  Throughout the year it makes super showy, orchid-like flower clusters that emerge from terrific leaves resembling a Bromeliad.  The bluish & magenta blooms are quite fascinating, and they're delightfully fragrant!  This is an easy and reliable houseplant that would make a great show plant.  My purple-leaf form of it has been very popular, and i'm glad to be offering this rare green form.

Cochliostema odoratissimum

It forms a large rosette of glossy leaves about 3 feet long.  It's often mistaken for a Bromeliad, but it's actually unrelated (Commelinaceae family).  The leaves may develop a rim of purple around the edges, which looks really nice.  It flowers multiple times a year, and can have multiple flower stalks at a time.  Each panicle is about a foot long, with about 1 to 2 dozen 2-inch flowers, which are surprisingly intricate.  They have bright magenta sepals, and violet-blue petals with frilly hairs.  There's also a tuft of yellow hairs near the center of each flower, presumably to attract pollinators.

Cochliostema odoratissimum

It's easy to grow when given the right conditions.  It's a tropical species that prefers mild to warm conditions, doing fine in normal household temperatures.  It can tolerate cool nights, but it needs protection from frost.  In the wild it grows as an epiphyte in trees, but it grows just fine in a pot in well-draining soil.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Unlike many epiphytes, you don't need to water the "tank" of the leaves, since it has a normal root system.  It enjoys bright, filtered light, and might need protection from strong afternoon sun.  It doesn't need any direct sun to thrive.  Over about 50% humidity is best for this rain forest plant.

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Photo #2 courtesy of James Steakley

 

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