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Turquoise Puya

 

"Orange Sunset" Bomarea

 

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate

Seed pre-treatment -- Soak your seeds in room-temperature water for about 12 hours (not more than 24 hours).

 Each seed should be planted in a separate pot about 3 inches tall (7 cm) with drainage holes.  Fill each pot with a well-draining soil mix.  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 on.  Water the mix until evenly moist (but not soggy).  Place a seed on top and cover with about 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil. Water the top soil until moist.

 Keep the pots in an area that will stay about 65-75 degrees F (18-24C) during the day, and 45-65 (7-18C) at night.  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating mat. 

 Keep the soil surface moist (but not soggy).  If you place the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, keep it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter. 

 The seeds will germinate at different times, with the earliest ones sprouting as soon as 5 to 8 weeks.  After 10 weeks, move any that have not sprouted into the refrigerator for 6 weeks, to trick them into thinking that winter has passed.  Alternatively, you may place them outside if night temperatures are between 35 and 55F (2-13C).  If you put them in the refrigerator, place them a sealed plastic bag first, and mark your calendar to check on them every 2 weeks, to see if any seeds have sprouted.

 After the 6 weeks in the refrigerator, move them back into room temperature.  They should start sprouting in 4-6 weeks, but allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones.

Transplanting -- Wait until the 2nd or 3rd shoot appears before repotting.  A 6 inch (15 cm) tall pot will hold it for several months.  Then move it to a 1 gallon (4 liter) pot for a year, and finally a 5 or 10 gallon (20-40 liter) pot.

 Transplant carefully and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can disturb the plant.  Watering the soil before transplanting can help keep the soil ball together.

Soil -- Bomarea likes humus-rich, well-draining soil.  Don't add lime to the soil, since Bomarea likes slightly acid soil.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Avoid letting the soil dry out, but don't keep it perpetually soggy either.

Light -- Bomarea comes from the forests, where it gets tree-filtered sun most of the time.  Give it some protection from strong afternoon sun.

Climate -- Bomarea grows best above 40 degrees F (5C).    The tubers can survive at least several degrees of frost, but this will kill the leaves.

Fertilizing --  Once they are 1 week old, give a very light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat weekly.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  After 2 months, you may switch to a general-purpose, granular fertilizer if you wish.  Follow the dosage on the package.

Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so give it something to play on, like a trellis, fence, or another plant.  It should ideally be under 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, so the plant can twine it's way around easier.  Don't prune your plant (unless a branch dies back), but you may wrap any overly long strands down around your trellis. The flowers appear from the growing tips.   

Dormancy -- This variety may go dormant for a few months in the winter if temperatures are cool enough.  If the plant should die back then, reduce watering until the spring.  Don't try to dig up or separate the tubers, as this may kill the plant.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Snails and slugs are attracted to young shoots.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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Turquoise Puya

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