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Turquoise Puya

 

Moussonia elegans

Germinating the seeds

 

 Germination is similar to Begonias (not tropical terrarium Begonias), so if you have germinated them before, you may use the same technique. 

Getting started - The seeds are very small, so work in a well-lit area.

 You may start the seeds in small pots 2 inches (5 cm) tall and wide, with drainage holes.  Fill each container with a well-draining mix.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Don't compress the soil.  Water it so that it's evenly moist (use bottled water if your tap water is very high in minerals).

 Sprinkle several seeds on top.  An easy way to pick them up is to breath on your fingertip to lightly moisten it, then dab the seeds to pick a few up.  After sprinkling them over the soil, cover with 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 a very thin layer of your potting mix around the seeds.  Add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 For the next few weeks, ensure that the soil surface stays moist at all times.  To keep the soil from drying out, you may enclose the pots in a clear plastic container or bag.  Keep it open a crack to allow a little fresh air in.  Once a day, drip a few drops over the surface to keep it moist.  If you find that the soil dries out too quickly, sprinkle a very thin layer of sphagnum moss that has been ground up in a coffee grinder.

 Keep the pots at about 65-74 degrees (18-23C).  Avoid letting them get above 76F (25C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots. 

  Light helps the seeds germinate, so keep them in a bright spot, but not in direct sun.  A fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.

 The seeds should begin sprouting in 3 weeks, and can continue for another month.  Once they sprout, increase the amount of fresh air by opening the bag or container a little more.  Continue keeping the soil surface moist for the first 3-4 weeks, because since the seedlings have a small root system.  Avoid dripping water directly on the if possible. 

 After 3-4 weeks, you do not need to keep the surface moist, but do keep the rest of the soil moist (but not soggy).  Continue giving bright light, but not direct sun.

 When the plants are a month old, you may thin them down to one per pot.  Or you may transplant them all to bigger pots when they are 2-3 months old.  Transplant carefully to avoid disturbing the roots. 

 Over about 40-50% humidity is recommended.  After 3 months, you may give them some morning sun.  Always shade the plants from strong sun. 

 Once they are a week old, give a very light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat every 7-10 days.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.   Once they are 3 months old, you may switch to a general-purpose granular fertilizer if you wish.

For general information on this plant, see here.

 

Good luck!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things

 

 
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Turquoise Puya

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