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Turquoise Puya

 

Impatiens bicaudata

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Getting started -- The seeds are small, so work in a well-lit area.  You may plant each seed in individual, small containers, such as seedling starter trays.  Or you plant them all in a single, larger container.  Either way, use containers with drainage holes.

 For soil, use a well draining mix.  I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite (use fine- or medium-grade perlite, not coarse-grade).  An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand..

 Fill the pots, without packing down the soil, and place a seed or 2 on top.  Tap the pot lightly to settle the seeds in the cracks of the soil.  If you have long-fibered sphagnum moss, sprinkle a small amount over the surface.  This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  The amount of moss to use is shown in this photo.  If you don't have the moss, sprinkle a small amount of your soil mix around the seeds.  Then add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil always stays moist.  A plastic dome may be used to maintain moisture, but leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over the seeds every day to keep the seeds moist.

 They sprout well between 66 and 78 degrees F (19-26C), and a little cooler at night.  I have no experience germinating them outside that temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 They should begin sprouting in about 3 to 6 weeks, but they can sometimes take up to 10 weeks.  Continue keeping the soil surface moist for 3 weeks after they sprout, and then remove them from any plastic dome.

Fertilizing -- Feed weekly with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for this, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  I use General Hydroponics Flora fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon/gallon (5 mL per 4 liters).  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.

Lighting -- It grows well in bright shade, dappled sunlight, or morning sun.  It might be able to handle more sunlight, but it will need more frequent watering and feeding.  Just avoid strong sunlight until the plants are a few months old.

Transplanting -- When your plants are about 2 inches tall (5 cm), gently transfer them to pots about 3 inches tall (8 cm).  Avoid disturbing the roots when repotting.

Watering -- Try to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, most of the time.  Avoid letting it dry out completely.  If you're unsure if the soil down in the root zone has the proper moisture, you can use a moisture meter.

Climate -- It comes from a climate that is mild all year, with nights that are cool.  It is untested in warmer climates like Florida, so consider it experimental in hot conditions, particularly if nights are warm (over 65F / 18C).  It needs protection from freezing temperatures.  Over about 40% humidity is best.

Pruning -- It doesn't require pruning unless you wish to shape your plants.  They normally make tall, upward stems, and most of the leaves end up being near the top of the branches.  If you want a more bushier or shorter appearance, you can encourage side shoots to form on each branch by removing the tips. 

Pests to watch for -- Watch for other pests that might affect your other plants, like aphids, spider mites, thrips, or mealy bugs.  Try using insecticidal soap before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me. 

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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