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Pitcairnia ringens

Pitcairnia ringens

 

Getting started -- Use small pots about 2-3 inches tall (5-7 cm) that have drainage holes.

 This species prefers a well-draining soil that is high in organic matter.  A typical mix is equal parts of high-quality potting soil and perlite (or pumice rock).  An alternate mix is 2 parts coir fiber to parts perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix, and water it so it is uniformly moist, but not soggy.  Sprinkle 2 to 4 seeds on top, then some water on them to settle them in.  If you have sphagnum moss or vermiculite, sprinkle some on the surface.  The purpose is not to cover the seeds, but to maintain moisture around them.  If you don't have sphagnum moss, sprinkle a very thin layer of your soil mix around the seeds.

 Ensure that the surface soil doesn't dry out.  A propagation dome or plastic bag may be used to maintain humidity, but leave it open slightly to allow a little fresh air in.  You may need to drip water on the seeds each day to keep them moist.

 The ideal temperature for germination is about 65 to 75 degrees F (18-24C).  Avoid letting them get too warm.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating pad.  Keep the pots in a bright spot, but out of direct sunlight.  You may use a fluorescent bulb kept a hand's length away.

 The seeds should start germinating in 3 to 5 weeks, but allow up to 8 weeks for any slow ones to sprout.  Cooler temperatures may slow germination.

 Once the seeds sprout, give bright shade, or filtered sunlight.  Avoid giving prolonged, direct sunlight until the plants are a few months old.

Watering -- Continue keeping the soil surface moist until they are 6 weeks old.  After that, aim to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time (but not constantly soggy).  Avoid letting the soil dry out completely.  

Climate -- Pitcairnia ringens comes from about 3000 to 7000 feet elevation in Mexico, where temperatures are a bit cooler than the lowlands.  I know it can handle temperatures in the mid-80s (30C), but i have no information on how it will do in warmer conditions, so consider it experimental in warmer climates like Florida and Texas. The underground rhizomes can probably handle at least a few degrees of frost, although i recommend protecting the plant from all frost.

Lighting -- The plant has flowered both in full sun and in full shade, but it seems to be happiest with about 50% sun. Some afternoon shade might be needed in warmer areas.

Fertilizing --  This species has average fertilizer needs.  For the first months, it's best to use liquid fertilizer, if you have it.  Give a light dose (1/8 strength) of liquid fertilizer once a week.   After the first month, you may switch to granular fertilizer, feeding about once every 2 months. 

Transplanting -- When your plants are 3 months old, you may gently transfer them to larger pots, using a similar soil mix as mentioned earlier.  Give shade for 2 weeks after repotting.  A 1 gallon (4 liter) pot can hold 2 or 3 plants until they multiply and fill the pot.  Then you may divide them or move them into a wider pot.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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