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Turquoise Puya

 

Hechtia texensis

Hechtia texensis

 

Germinating the seeds

 Seeds germinate well if they are fresh.  Use small containers that have drainage holes, such as seedling starter trays.  A well-draining soil is necessary, such as cactus soil.  You may make your own mix with 1 part quality potting soil and 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-grade perlite, not large chunks) or coarse horticultural sand.  Or use 1 part coco fiber to 2 parts perlite or coarse sand.  Fill each container, and place the seeds on top about to 1 inch (1.5 to 3 cm) apart from each other. 

 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 fully saturated).

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil does not dry out.  If you enclose the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly for some fresh air to enter.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over them each day or 2.

 The seeds germinate well between 65-80 degrees F (18-27C) during the day (a little cooler at night is ok).  I have no information about how they will sprout outside that temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

  Keep them in bright light out of direct sun the first 2 months.  A bright LED or fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").  

 Many of the seeds should sprout within 4 weeks, but may take up 8 weeks to start.  Continue keeping the surface soil moist until the seedlings have their second set of leaves - then you may let the surface dry out between waterings. 

 When the seedlings have their third set of leaves, you may give them some morning sun.  Transition them to stronger lighting gradually, and protect them from strong afternoon sun the first 2-3 months.  After about 10 months they should be ready for full sun.

Fertilizing -- The first 2 months, feed weekly with a small amount of dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 2 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients.  Or continue feeding liquid fertilizer, either light doses weekly or stronger doses less frequently.

Long-term care

 Repot your plants to a larger container whenever necessary.  If you are in a heavy rainfall area, use extra perlite, pumice or coarse sand in your mix.

 Protect your plants from frost the first winter, and preferably two.   

 In very hot conditions, it may be necessary to give them some afternoon shade if they look unhappy.  It may help to keep the pot shaded, perhaps by placing it inside a second pot made of clay.  

 While the plants are fairly drought tolerant, they grow the fastest when given adequate water, so avoid letting the soil completely dry out.  Don't let the pots sit in a tray of water. 

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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