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Turquoise Puya

 

Parrot Impatiens

Impatiens niamniamensis

 

Germinating the seeds

 

When to plant -- Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination.

Getting started -- You may plant each seed in individual, small containers.  Or you plant them all in a single container, but it may be more difficult to transplant them later.  Either way, use pots with drainage holes.

 For soil, use a well draining mix high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite or coarse sand, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in. 

 Gently place a seed in each pot (or if using a communal pot, space them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from each other).  Then sprinkle a thin layer of long-fibered sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss).  This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  This photo shows how much moss to use.  If you don't have sphagnum moss, sprinkle a bit of your soil mix around the surface.

 Add water until the soil is evenly moist, but not soggy. Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface never dries out.  An easy way to maintain high humidity by enclosing the pots in a plastic container or bag.  Leave it open a crack to let in fresh air.  Once or twice a day, you may need to drip a few drops of water on the surface to keep it moist.

 The ideal temperature for germination is between 65 and 77 degrees F (18-25C).  A little cooler at night is ok.  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C) for long periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Place the containers in a bright spot out of direct sun.  An LED or fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights"). 

 They should start germinating in about 3 to 5 weeks, but could take as long as 8 weeks to start sprouting.  Once they start, they can continue sprouting for about a month.  Increase air ventilation slightly after sprouting to prevent rot, but continue keeping the soil surface moist for 3 weeks after sprouting.

Growing onward...

Lighting -- This Impatiens prefers bright shade, or filtered sunlight.  Some sun can be ok, but avoid strong afternoon sun.

Fertilizing -- Feed weekly with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 6-8 weeks, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

 Transplanting -- When your plants are 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to a larger pot.  Water the soil first, and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can damage the roots.  After transplanting, give no sun or liquid fertilizer the first week.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Never let it dry out completely.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate --
Like many Impatiens, it is happiest in moderate daytime temperatures and cooler nights.  It might not thrive if temperatures consistently get over about 85 degrees F (29 C) and nights are warm.  I don't think it can survive below 30 degrees F (-1 C).  You may save the seeds each year and grow the plant as an annual.

 Above about 40-50% humidity is best.  If your plants seem to suffer from low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and thrift shops.

 Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Try using insecticidal soap spray before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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