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Turquoise Puya

 

Monochaetum deppeanum

Monochaetum deppeanum

 

Germinating the seeds

 

   Germination is similar to Begonia seeds (not tropical, terrarium Begonias), so if you have grown them successfully from seed, you may use the same technique that worked for you.

Getting started -- Use about 6 to 10 small pots or cups with drainage holes that are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) tall. 

 Use a well-draining soil.  A typical soil mix for germinating them is 3 parts potting soil to 2 parts perlite (fine- or medium-grade, not large) or coarse sand.  An alternate mix is equal parts of coir fiber (or peat moss) and perlite. 

 The seeds are very small, so work in a well-lit area.  Sprinkle several seeds evenly across the surface of each pot.  An easy way to pick up the seeds is by breathing on your finger tip to lightly moisten it, then dabbing the seeds with it. 

 If you have long-fiber sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss), sprinkle a little over the surface.  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 some of your soil mix over the surface.  Then add water until everything is evenly moist.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface never dries out.  A good way to maintain high humidity is by enclosing the pots in a plastic container or bag.  Leave it open slightly to let in fresh air.  Once or twice a day, drip a few drops of water on the surface to keep it moist.

 The best temperature for germination is between 68-77 degrees F (2-25C) during the day, and 64-70F (18-21C) at night.  Avoid letting them above 80 degrees F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating mat.

 The seeds need light to germinate, so place the containers in a bright spot out of direct sun.  A fluorescent or LED lamp kept 4 inches (10 cm) above them provides the right amount of light.  Give at least 12 hours of bright light per day.

 The seeds should start sprouting in about 4-6 weeks, but may take longer.  Once they sprout, continue dripping water on the soil surface daily the first month, since young seedlings have a small root system.  A week after they sprout, open the plastic container or bag a bit more, to allow more air circulation.

 When the seedlings are a month old, you may remove the plastic container and carefully pull them and transplant them, however i recommend simply cutting off any slower ones, and leaving 1 strong seedling in each pot.

Fertilizing -- Once they are a week old, give a light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat once a week.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  Once they are 3 months old, you may switch to an ordinary granular fertilizer, feeding about every 2-3 months.

Lighting -- The plant likes part sun or dappled sun.  It will probably need protection from strong afternoon sun.

Transplanting -- When the seedlings are 2-3 months old, repot to a larger container.  Repot gently to avoid damaging the root hairs.  Protect from direct sun the first week after repotting.

Growing onward...

Climate -- It grows well in mild daytime temperatures and cool but frost-free nights. Little is known about its climate tolerances, but it's possible that it might not thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85 F (29C) and nights are warm (over 65F / 18C).  It probably cannot survive below about 28 F (-2C).  Over about 40-45% humidity is best.

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

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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