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Turquoise Puya

 

"Fiesta" Bomarea

 

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate

These seeds sprout best if placed in the refrigerator for 8 weeks, after an initial 6 weeks at room temperature. This is to trick the seeds into thinking winter has passed. The tips below explain the process.

 First, rinse each seed well under running water.. being careful not to drop them down the drain!

 Prepare a soil mix of 2 parts sterilized potting soil and 1 part perlite (an alternate mix is equal parts coir fiber and perlite).  Fill a small plastic ziplock baggie about halfway with the soil mix, place the seeds on top, and cover them with an inch (2.5 cm) of soil.  Water the soil just until evenly moist (not soggy).  Zip up the baggie most of the way, leaving it open slightly for some fresh air to enter.

 Instead of a baggie, you may use a small plastic Tupperware-type container.  You will be digging the seeds out later, so don't use a big container or the seeds will be hard to find.  

 For the next 6 weeks, keep the baggie in an area that will stay about 65-75 degrees (17-24C).  Cooler conditions at night are okay; avoid temperatures above 80F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the baggie. 

 Whenever the soil starts drying out, water it.  Again, don't keep the soil soggy.

After 6 weeks, zip up the baggie and move it into a refrigerator that stays above 37 F (2C).  Inside the door is usually the warmest part of a refrigerator.  Keep them there for 8 weeks.  There is a small chance they will sprout in the refrigerator, so mark your calendar to check on them every 2 weeks, and remove any that have sprouted. 

After the 8 weeks in the refrigerator, pluck out the seeds and plant them 1/4 inch deep (7 mm) in individual pots 3-5 inches tall (8-12 cm.  Use the same soil mix as before.  Give them day temperatures between 55 and 77 degrees F (13-25C).  Try to give them night temperatures below 64F (18C), perhaps by putting them on the floor of a cool room.

 They should start sprouting 4 to 8 weeks after removing them from the refrigerator, but allow up to 20 weeks for any slow ones.  Once they sprout give them bright light, but shade them from strong afternoon sun.

Growing on...

Climate -- Bomareas prefer mild temperatures and cooler nights.  It's possible that this one will not perform well if temperatures consistently get above 85 degrees F (30 C) and nights are warm (above 65F / 18C).

 Seedlings under 6 months old should be kept above 50F (10C) at night.  Seedlings between 6 months and 18 months old should be kept above 35F (2C) in winter.  Expose older plants to frost cautiously.  After 3 years, the tubers should be hardy to at least 25F (-4 C), but the shoots will die.  The plant grows best when protected from freezing temperatures. 

 It warmer climates, don't plant it where heat can collect, like against a sunny wall.  Use an oversized clay pot to keep the roots cool, and keep the pot shaded.  Indoors, over about 40-50% humidity is best.

 Watering -- Bomarea likes the soil kept evenly moist (but not soggy).  You can monitor the soil moisture using a moisture meter probe, which you can get from most garden and home improvement stores for about $5.

Light -- Bomarea likes about a half day of sun.  It can take more sun in cool, coastal areas.  In warmer climates, it may need some protection from strong afternoon sun. 

Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot emerges before repotting your seedlings.  A quart-sized pot (1 liter) will hold each plant for several months.  You can then move it to its permanent home - about 5-10 gallons (20-40 liters), or into the ground in suitable areas. 

 Repot gently to avoid breaking apart the soil ball.  Water the soil before transplanting to keep the soil ball together.  For the first week after repotting, shade the plant from prolonged sun, and don't feed it.

Fertilizing -- Once they are 1 week old, give a very light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat every 2 weeks.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.   Once they are 3 months old, you may switch to a general-purpose granular fertilizer if you wish, repeating about every 3 months.  Bomarea has average fertilizer needs.

Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so give older plants something to twine around, like a trellis, fence, or another plant.  It should ideally be under 1 inch thick (3 cm), so the shoots can wrap around it.  A 6 foot (2 meter) trellis should work, although larger is better if possible.  If the shoots grow too long, wrap them down and around your trellis.  Don't cut the shoots, since the flowers appear from the growing tips.

 By the way, the tubers should not be dug up, as this may damage the plant.  The tubers are food storage organs, and separating them may damage the plant.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Snails and slugs can be a problem in prone areas. 

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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