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Pitcairnia ringens

Pitcairnia ringens

 

Germinating the seeds

 

 Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination

Getting started -- You may use small pots or cups with drainage holes that are about 2-3 inches tall (5-7 cm).

 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.

 Fill the pots with soil and sprinkle a few seeds on the surface.  An easy way to pick them up is to breathe on your finger tip and then quickly dab the seeds.  Plant them at least 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart.

 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 or bag may be used to maintain near-100% humidity, but leave it open a crack 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.

 The ideal temperature for germination is between 65 to 77 degrees F (18-25C).  A little cooler at night is ok.  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.  Protect from direct sun. 

 They should start germinating in 3 to 5 weeks, and continue for about a month.  For the first 4 weeks after sprouting, continue keeping the soil surface moist.  After that, you may remove them from any plastic dome.  Avoid direct sun the first few weeks, unless it is weak.

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 a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

 Growing onward...

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.  In warmer climates, i would use an oversized pot to keep the roots cooler.  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.

Transplanting -- When your plants are about 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to larger pots, using a similar soil mix as mentioned earlier.  Avoid strong sun for 2 weeks after repotting.  At 1 year old, they will need a pot approximately 1 gallon (4 liter) in size, which should hold them for a year or more.  You may separate any offsets if you wish, but this might delay flowering.

 They generally aren't bothered by insects, but watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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