Germinating the seeds
Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate
» These seeds sprout best if placed in the refrigerator for 4 weeks, to simulate the passing of winter. The tips below explain the process.
First, soak the seeds overnight in a cup of water.
Use a well-draining soil mix. A typical mix is 3 parts potting soil to 2 parts perlite. An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber or peat moss to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand. Don't add lime to the mix unless using peat moss.
Fill small containers or cups that have drainage holes. Place a seed on top and cover with 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil. Add water until evenly moist.
Place the pots in a sealed container or a sealed plastic bag, and place this in the refrigerator. Mark your calendar to remove them after 4 weeks.
Move them to a spot that is about 65-75 degrees (17-24°C), during the day and 55-68°F (13-20°C) at night. Avoid temperatures above 80°F (27°C). I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.
The seeds can germinate over a long period, usually starting some time after 6 weeks and continuing for another 6 or 8 months. Germination is slow but reliable.
Once they sprout, give them bright, filtered light. Avoid strong sun exposure. Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).
Once they are 2 weeks old, if your soil contains no fertilizer, feed with a very dilute (1/8th strength) liquid fertilizer. Hydroponic fertilizer is perfect for young seedlings, since it is complete and easily absorbed. Once they are 2 months old, you may switch to a granular fertilizer. The plant has average fertilizer needs.
Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot emerges before repotting your seedlings. A 5 inch (12 cm) pot will hold each plant for at least half a year, then you may move it to a 1 gallon (4 liter) pot, which can hold it for 3+ years, before it may need dividing.
Repot gently to avoid breaking apart the soil ball. Water the soil before transplanting to keep the soil ball together. For the first week after repotting, shade the plant from prolonged sun, and don't feed it.
Climate -- It comes from mountain cloud forests of Ecuador, where temperatures are mild all year, and nights are cool. I have no information on how it will fare in hot conditions, but i suspect it might not thrive if temperatures regularly get above 85° F (29°C) and nights are warm (above 68°F / 20°C). It reportedly can survive several degrees of frost, but i suggest protecting it from hard frosts. Over about 40% humidity is recommended.
Light -- It grows well in bright shade or filtered sun. Give it some protection from strong afternoon sun.
Pests to watch for -- Snails and slugs may be a problem in prone areas. Watch for bugs that are common in your area.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Have fun growing them!
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