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Turquoise Puya

 

Medinilla sp. from Madagascar

Medinilla sp. from Madagascar 

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Soil -- The soil should be well-draining and high in organic matter.  A good mix to germinate them in is 1 part sterilized potting soil and 1 part perlite.  Screen the mix of any large chunks.  An alternate mix is equal parts of perlite and coir fiber or peat moss, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.  Don't add lime to the mix, since this plant prefers slightly acid soil.

Pot size - Use small pots, or cups with drainage holes, about 1.5 to 3 inches tall (4-7 cm).

 Fill the pots with the soil mix and water it until it is evenly moist (but not soggy).  Place a seed or 2 on top and sprinkle a very thin layer of crumbled sphagnum moss or vermiculite over them.  If you don't have either of these, use your soil mix.  Use just enough to barely cover cover the seeds.  Then water the top layer.

 Until the seeds sprout, it's important not to let the soil surface dry out.  It may be best to enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag to maintain moisture.  Just leave it open a crack to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the surface one or more times a day to keep it moist.

 Aim to keep the seeds between 65 and 78 F (18-26C).  I have no information about how well they germinate outside that temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating mat. 

 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 in 6 weeks, but allow up to 12 weeks for any slow ones, especially at cooler temperatures.

 The seedlings are small when they sprout, and they grow slowly, so they require close monitoring the first few 2-3 months, to ensure they are not neglected.

Lighting -- After they sprout, keep them in a bright spot, with protection from afternoon sun.

Watering:  After the seedlings are 5 weeks old, you may allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings, but aim to keep the rest of the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Never let it dry out completely, but also avoid keeping it constantly soggy. 

 If your water supply is very high in minerals (= "hard water"), it's best to use bottled water or rainwater.

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.  After 3 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer, feeding at half the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with dilute liquid fertilizer.

 If the older leaves appear pale/yellowish, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone.  If soil moisture levels have been fine, the plant may need more nitrogen fertilizer.. especially if light levels are high.

Climate -- The plant will probably need to be grown indoors, except in Zones 10 or above.  Ideal temperatures seem to be between 55 and 85 degrees F (13-29C).  I have no information how it will do outside that temperature range.  Since it comes from forests, it enjoys filtered sunlight.  Adult plants can handle some sun, but may need some shade from strong afternoon sun.

 Over about 50% humidity is recommended.  If your room's humidity drops too low, consider using an ultrasonic humidifier, which you can get at home improvement stores and thrift shops.

Repotting -- Once your seedlings are at least 1.5 inches tall (4 cm), you may repot them to larger containers.  Repot gently to avoid damaging the root hairs.  Repot into a porous mix, such as half potting soil and half fine-grade orchid bark (or perlite).  For the first week or two after repotting, shade from sun and give no fertilizer.

Insects to watch for -- Look for any insects that you find on your other houseplants.  Aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites might attack them, but insecticidal soap spray can control them.

Happy growing!

- Jeff

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