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Turquoise Puya

 

Cestrum aurantiacum

"Mango Cestrum"

 

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds when you receive them for best results

Getting started -- Soak the seeds in a cup of water for 2-3 hours (not more than 8 hours).

Soil -- The Mango Cestrum likes soil that's high in organic matter but that also drains well.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse sand.  An alternate mix is equal parts of coir fiber and perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.

 Use small pots or cups that have drainage holes.  Fill them with the soil and place a seed or two on the surface of each pot.  Then cover with 1/4 inch (7-10 mm) of soil, and water until evenly moist (but not soggy). 

 Try to keep the pots between 65 and 75 degrees F (18-24C).  I have no information about how they will do outside that temperature range.  I suggest placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, since the temperature can vary in different parts of a room.  Keep the pots in a bright spot out of direct sun.

 Give them some water whenever the soil surface starts to dry out.  If you enclose the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly for fresh air to circulate. 

 They should start sprouting within 3-4 weeks, but allow up to 2 months for any slow ones.

Light -- Once they sprout, give them morning sun, filtered sun, or place them under a fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away.  Protect them from strong afternoon sun until they are at least 3 months old.

Watering -- The Mango Cestrum prefers soil that is evenly moist most of the time.  The soil should not be allowed to dry out, nor should it remain perpetually soggy.  Adult plants can handle dry spells fairly well, but it's best to not let them dry out. 

Fertilizing -- Feed about every 2 months with a slow-release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer.  If your potting soil contains nutrients (check the package) your seedlings shouldn't need feeding the first 3 weeks.

 It's normal for an older leaf to occasionally turn yellow and drop throughout the year, but if it seems excessive, it could be from not enough fertilizer, especially nitrogen.  Or the soil could be too dry down in the root zone.

Growing on.. -- Once your plant is about 4-6 months old, it may be planted in the ground in suitable areas.  If you keep it in a container, repot to a larger pot whenever the roots reach the bottom of the container, or after 2 months.  Water the soil before repotting, so the soil ball stays together, which protects the roots. 

 Repot again to a larger pot whenever it becomes root bound.  The size of the final pot depends on how large you choose to let it grow.  A full-sized tree will need an enormous pot, but it may also be kept in a 5 gallon (20 liter) pot if pruned back regularly to keep it small.

Climate -- This Cestrum is said to handle down to 25-30 degrees F (-4 to -1C), and possibly lower.  It grows best when protected from all frost.  It likes part- to full-sun.  In hot areas, it will enjoy some shade during the hottest part of the day.  In colder areas, mulch the base well in case it should be struck down by frost.  New growth should emerge from beneath the mulch if frost isn't severe.  Indoors, over about 40% humidity is best.  It can flower all year indoors!

Pruning -- You may prune your plant at any time to shape it.  To grow it tall and tree-shaped, cut away the side branches on the lower half of the stem.  If you prefer a shorter, bushier plant, clip off the leading tip.  Flowers appear at the ends of the new growth.

Bugs to watch for -- Spider mites (tiny "dots" under the leaves), Aphids (green ones are hard to see), white mealy bugs, and scale (brown discs on the stem - hard to see!).

If you have any questions or problems, please email me.

- Jeff

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