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Turquoise Puya

 

Impatiens tuberosa

Growing the seeds

 

When to plant -- Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination

Getting started -- The seeds are small, so work in a well-lit area.  You may plant each seed in individual, small containers, such as seedling starter trays.  Or you plant them all in a single, larger container.  Either way, use containers with drainage holes.

 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 or coarse horticultural sand.  If you create your own mix using peat moss, add a small amount of agricultural lime (=dolomite lime, not hydrated or quick lime).  Add only teaspoon of lime per gallon of soil (3 cc per 4 liters.

 Fill the pots, without packing down the soil, and place a seed or 2 on top.  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 may be used to maintain moisture, but leave it open slightly 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.

 They sprout well between 66 and 78 degrees F (19-26C), and a little cooler at night.  I have no experience germinating them outside that temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 They should begin sprouting within 3 to 6 weeks, but allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones to sprout.  Continue keeping the soil surface moist for 3 weeks after they sprout, and then remove them from any plastic dome.

Fertilizing -- Feed weekly 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.

Lighting -- Impatiens tuberosa grows well in bright shade, dappled sunlight, or morning sun.  It might be able to handle more sunlight, but it will need more frequent watering and feeding.  Just avoid strong sunlight until the plants are a few months old.

Transplanting -- When your plants are about 2 inches tall (5 cm), gently transfer them to pots about 3 inches tall (8 cm), without disturbing the roots much. 

Watering -- Try to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, most of the time.  Avoid letting it dry out completely.  If you're unsure if the soil down in the root zone has the proper moisture, you can use a moisture meter.

Climate -- Impatiens tuberosa grows in tropical lowland forests, where temperatures get in the upper 80s (31C).  It can often tolerate warmer conditions than that if nights are cool (below 65F / 18C).  It's possible that consistently hot days with warm nights might stress it.  The tuber can probably survive a light frost, but i recommend keeping the plant above 50 degrees F (10C).

Dormancy care - It's normal for the plant to drop it's branches and go dormant for 2-3 months per year.  When this happens reduce watering until the soil is just slightly moist.  Avoid letting it dry out completely.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for other pests that might affect your other plants, like aphids, spider mites, thrips, or mealy bugs.  Try using insecticidal soap before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me. 

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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