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Turquoise Puya

 

Meriania nobilis

Meriania nobilis

 

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Soil -- The soil should be well-draining and slightly acidic.  A typical mix to germinate them in is 1 part peat moss or coir fiber to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.  Do not add lime to the mix.  If you use perlite, screen it of any larger chunks.

Pot size - You may plant all the seeds in a single pot and separate them later, but it's best to plant them in individual small pots.  The pots should have drainage holes.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix and water it until it is evenly moist (but not soggy).  If your tap water is alkaline or "hard", meaning high in minerals, use bottled water or rain water.  Place the seeds on top and drip some water on them to settle them in.  Carefully moisten the top soil layer.  Light helps the seeds germinate, so do not bury them.

 Until the seeds sprout, it's important that the seeds always stay moist.  Try to maintain near-100% humidity, perhaps by placing the pots in a plastic dome or bag.  Leave it open a crack to allow a little fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the seeds every day or two to keep them moist.

 Place the pots in an area that will stay between 60 and 70 F (16-21C), although a little cooler at night is ok.  Avoid letting them get above 74 F (23C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.  If necessary, place them on the floor of a cool room.

 Keep them in a bright spot out of direct sun.  A fluorescent light 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.  Once they sprout, reduce the humidity slightly and increase air flow a bit to avoid rot. 

Watering:  Once they are 3 weeks old, you may allow the surface soil to dry out between waterings, but aim to keep the rest of the soil evenly moist.  Never let it dry out completely, but also avoid keeping it constantly soggy. 

 Feeding -- Feed about every 2-3 months with some slow-release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer that contains micronutrients.

 If the older leaves appear yellowish, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone.  Or the plant may need more fertilizer.

Climate -- The tree is found between 1900 and 2900 meter elevation in Colombia, where temperatures are cool to mild all year, and frost is almost non-existent.  Little is known about its climate tolerances, but i suspect it might decline if temperatures consistently rise above 80 F (27C), especially if nights are warm.

 It can probably handle a few degrees of frost, but it's wise to protect it from freezing temperatures.

 It comes from cloud forests, so it appreciates a mix of sun and shade, with some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 50% humidity is recommended.  Indoors, if the humidity drops too low, consider using an ultrasonic humidifier.

Repotting -- Once your seedlings are at least 2 inches tall (5 cm), you may repot them to larger containers.  Repot gently and avoid letting the soil ball break apart.  Water the soil before repotting to help keep the soil ball together.  For the first week or two after repotting, shade from all sun and give no liquid fertilizer.

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

Pruning -- If your plants grow too tall, feel free to prune them to keep them short.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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