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Turquoise Puya

 

Podachaenium eminens

Podachaenium eminens

Giant Tree Daisy

 

Germinating the seeds

 

When to plant -- Plant them when you receive them for best results.

Soil -- Use a soil that's high in organic matter/humus but that also drains well.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite.  An alternate mix is 2 parts coir fiber to 3 parts perlite or coarse horticultural sand, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in, but no lime.

Pot size - You may use small pots about 1.5 to 3 inches (4-8 cm) wide and 2.5 to 4 inches tall (6-10 cm).  The pots should have drainage holes.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix and sprinkle 2 to 4 seeds on top in each pot.  Then sprinkle a thin layer of long-fiber sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss).  This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  This photo shows how much moss to use.  If you don't have sphagnum moss, sprinkle some perlite around the surface. 

 Add water until the soil is evenly moist, but not soggy. Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface never dries out.  An easy way to maintain high humidity by enclosing the pots in a plastic container or bag - just leave it open a crack to let in fresh air.  Once or twice a day, drip a few drops of water on the surface to keep it moist.

 They sprout well between about 65 to 77 F (18-25C).  I have no information about how they will germinate outside that temperature range.  It's possible that high temperatures inhibit germination.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Keep them in a bright spot out of direct sun.  A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.  They should begin sprouting within 4-6 weeks, but allow up to 12 weeks for any slow ones.

Watering:  Once the seedlings are 3 weeks old, you may allow the surface soil to dry out, but aim to keep the rest of the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Never let it dry out completely, but also don't keep it perpetually soggy. 

Repotting -- Once your seedlings are at least 3 inches tall (7 cm), you may repot them to larger containers about 1 quart (1 liter) in size.  Repot gently and avoid letting the soil ball break apart.  It's best to water the soil before repotting to keep the soil together.  For the first week after repotting, shade from sun and give no fertilizer.

 Repot again after 4 to 6 months, or plant in the ground in suitable areas.  If you want to keep it in a pot, the final pot size depends on how large you choose to let it grow.  You may prune your plant to any size that is convenient.

Growing onward..

Fertilizing -- For the first month, use a liquid fertilizer if you have one. Then feed about every 2 months with a granular, general-purpose fertilizer. 

 It's normal for a few of the older leaves to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, check that the soil is not too dry down in the root zone, perhaps by using a moisture meter probe.  If it's moist, the plant might need more nitrogen fertilizer.

Climate -- It comes from mountainous areas where the temperature is mild and nights are cool. This species seems more tolerant of heat than typical cloud forest plants.  It has handled temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s (33C).  It is certainly worth a try in warmer areas like Florida, although it's possible that it won't bloom due to the heat.  If your plant appears stressed from heat, shade it from sun and keep it moist.

 Frost will damage the foliage, but the plant can probably take at least several degrees of frost (-3C), with new growth emerging from the base. Still, i recommend protecting it from frost.

 It might not thrive in very dry air - over about 40% humidity is recommended.

Lighting -- Older plants prefer filtered sunlight or morning sun, with some protection from strong afternoon sun. The leaves seem to grow the largest in shade.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact me.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things

 

 

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