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Turquoise Puya

 

Drymonia chiribogana

Drymonia chiribogana

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 potting soil and 1 part perlite.  An alternate mix is equal parts of perlite and coir fiber or peat moss, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.  Screen the mix of any large chunks.

 Use small pots or cups with have drainage holes.  Fill them with the soil mix and place 2 or 3 seeds on top.  Then sprinkle 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.  The proper amount of moss to use is seen in this photo.  If you don't have moss, sprinkle some vermiculite, or your soil mix.  Then add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Until the seeds sprout, it's important not to let the soil surface dry out.  An easy way to maintain moisture is to enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag.  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 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.

 After they sprout, increase the air circulation slightly, and keep them in a bright spot.  Protect them from direct sun at least the first month.

Watering:  After the seedlings are 4 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, don't let the pot sit in a tray of water. 

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

Feeding -- For the first 2 months, feed every 7-10 days with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer that contains micronutrients.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, because it complete and easily absorbed.  When they are 2 months old, you may switch to a slow-release, granular fertilizer.  The plants grow relatively slowly and don't need much fertilizer, so be careful not to overfeed.

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

Climate -- The plant comes from tropical hills, where the climate is mild all year.  I have only grown it indoors between 62 and 77 degrees F (17-25 C), and i don't know how well it grows outside that temperature range.

 It is said to prefer high humidity, but it's grown well for me at 45% humidity.  I don't know if it can take much dryer air than that though.

Repotting -- Once your seedlings are at least 1.5 inches tall (4 cm), you may repot them to larger containers.  Repot gently and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can damage the roots.  Water the soil before repotting to help keep the soil together.  Repot into a loose, well-draining mix.  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.  Try using insecticidal soap spray before resorting to harsher chemicals.

Pruning -- If your plants happen to get too tall, you may trim it back, which will encourage side branches to form. 

Happy growing!

- Jeff

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