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Turquoise Puya

 

Philesia magellanica

Philesia magellanica

Germinating the seeds

 

Your seeds should be planted the day they arrive for best germination

 

Getting started - The seeds will be sent moist.  Disinfect them by soaking them for 10 minutes in a mix of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then rinse them off well.

Cold treatment -- Your seeds should be given an 6 week cold treatment in the refrigerator for best germination.  This tricks them into thinking winter has passed, so they germinate better.  The instructions below explain the process.

 It's easiest to plant them in a single container and transplant them after a year.  Use a pot at least 2.5 inches (6 cm) tall, and wide enough so each seed is an inch apart (3 cm).

 Prepare a soil mix of about 1 part peat moss and 1 part coarse horticultural sand.  Fill the pot, place the seeds on top, and cover them with 1/4 inch (1 cm) of soil.  Add water until the soil is evenly moist (not soggy).  If your tap water is "hard" (high in minerals) use bottled water or rain water.

 Enclose the pot in a ziplock bag or plastic Tupperware-type container, and place into a refrigerator that stays above 37 F (2C).  Inside the door is usually the warmest part of a refrigerator.  Mark your calendar to remove the pot after 6 weeks.

After cold-treatment -- Keep the pot between 60-74 degrees F (15-23C) during the day, and a bit cooler at night (50 to 70F / 10-21C).  Avoid letting it get above 77 degrees F (25C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pot.  Water whenever needed to keep the soil surface moist.  Keep a little air circulation across the soil surface, to prevent damping-off disease later. 

 They can begin sprout any time between 2 and 12 months.  The germination with fresh seed is high, so avoid giving up on any before 1 year.  Once they sprout, give them bright light, but shade them from direct sun the first few months.  Avoid transplanting them until they are 1-2 years old.

 The seedlings are very slow-growing the first 2 years and don't need much fertilizer.  If using a soil-less mix, feed about every 3-4 weeks the first year with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is perfect for this, since is contains all essential nutrients and is easily absorbed.

 Growing older plants..

 Philesia prefers conditions enjoyed by cool-temperature Orchids.  It's happiest in temperatures below 75 degrees F (24 C), with nights below 60 F (16 C).  There are scattered reports of it handling heat fine, but it might not thrive if temperatures consistently rise above the low 80s (28 degrees C), especially if nights are warm.  It can tolerate a few degrees of frost, but it's best to protect it from freezing temperatures, especially the first few years. 

 This forest plant likes dappled sunlight or morning sun.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  It often grows as an epiphyte in the wild, so it appreciates an open, quick draining soil mix that's kept evenly moist.  A typical mix is equal parts of fine bark, peat moss, and coarse sand.  It likes slightly-acid conditions, so don't add lime to the mix.  Over 50% humidity is best, with good air flow.  Protect it from snails & slugs, perhaps by growing it in a hanging basket.

 Be gentle whenever repotting to avoid damaging the delicate roots.  Avoid transplanting plants after the 4th year as this may delay flowering.  A 3 gallon (12 liter) pot should hold the plant for at least 10 years.

Pests to watch for -- Protect it from snails & slugs, perhaps by growing it in a hanging basket.  Watch for aphids, spider mites, and scale.

If you have any questions, please email me.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things

 

 
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