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Turquoise Puya

 

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best germination

 

Getting started -- I recommend planting the seeds in individual, small containers that have drainage holes.

 This plant prefers a loose, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Instead of perlite, you may use pumice rock or fine-grade orchid bark.  An alternate mix is 2 part coir fiber or peat moss to 3 parts perlite or pumice.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix, and add water until uniformly moist, but not soggy. Place 1-2 seeds on top of each pot, and cover with a very thin layer of soil - just enough to barely cover them.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil stays moist.  If you enclose the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the surface each day.

 They germinate well between about 64 and 77 degrees F (18-25C).  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80 F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 They should start germinating in about 4 to 5 weeks, but they might take up to 8 weeks to start.  Cooler temperatures may slow germination.

Lighting -- Once they sprout, give bright shade, or filtered sunlight.  Avoid prolonged, direct sunlight until the plants are 2-3 months old.

Watering -- Continue keeping the soil surface moist the first 3 weeks.  Then keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Don't let it dry out completely, but don't keep it perpetually soggy either.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- The plant comes from a mild climate, without extremes in temperatures. It reportedly has handled temperatures up to 100 degrees F, but it is happiest below 90 degrees F (32C). It can probably survive a few degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from all frost, especially the first year.

 The humidity should be above about 40%.  Indoors, if the humidity is too low, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home-improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Fertilizing -- The first 6-8 weeks, feed every 7 days 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 granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients (I use this).  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

 It's normal for older leaves to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone.  If you're sure the roots are moist enought, the plant may need more fertilizer, particularly nitrogen.  Keep in mind the plant normally drops its leaves each winter when exposed to cool temperatures.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2 months old, you may 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, avoid packing the soil down, and give no direct sun or liquid fertilizer the first week.

Pests to watch for -- aphids, scale (dark disks on the stems), mealy bugs, spider mites.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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