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Turquoise Puya

 

 

Impatiens gomphophylla

Impatiens gomphophylla

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Getting started -- You may plant each seed in individual, small containers, such as seedling starter trays.  Or you may plant them all in a single, larger container, but it may be difficult to separate the roots later.  Either way, use containers with drainage holes

 Use well-draining soil.  I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-grade perlite, not coarse-grade).  An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite.

 Fill the pots with soil and place a seed or 2 on the surface.  If you have long-fibered sphagnum moss, sprinkle a small amount over the surface.  This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  The amount of moss to use is shown in this photo.  If you don't have the moss, sprinkle a small amount of your soil mix around the seeds.  Then add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil always stays moist.  A plastic dome or bag may be used to maintain moisture, but leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over the seeds every day to keep the seeds moist.

 The ideal temperature for germination is between 65 to 77 degrees F (18-25C) during the day, with nights between 50-65 F (10-18C).  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.  Protect from direct sun. 

 They should start germinating in 4 to 6 weeks, and continue for about a month.  For the first 3 weeks after sprouting, continue keeping the soil surface moist.  After that, you may remove any plastic dome.

Fertilizing -- The first 6-8 weeks, feed every 7 days 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.  I use General Hydroponics Flora fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon/gallon (5 mL per 4 liters).  After 6-8 weeks, you may switch to granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients (I use this).  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

Growing onward...

Lighting -- This Impatiens prefers bright conditions.  Protect it from strong, direct sun the first 2 months.  Older plants flower best with at least a few hours of morning sun + filtered afternoon sun.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to larger pots.  Avoid damaging the roots when repotting.  Shade it from sun the first week after repotting.  A 1 gallon (4 liter) pot is fine the first year.  The second year, use approximately a 3 gallon (12 liter) pot.  After a few years, it may need a 5 gallon (20 liter) pot, especially if the soil dries out fast and the leaves wilt.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, never letting it dry out completely, except if it goes dormant in cool conditions.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- It seems to prefer temperatures below 85 F (29C), with nights below 65F (18C).  The tuber reportedly can go dormant in hot weather.  In warmer climates, use an oversized pot to keep the tubers cooler.  The tuber should survive down to at least 25 F (-4C) if well mulched.

 Over about 40-45% humidity is best.  If the humidity gets too low indoors, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Dormancy care -- In winter the tubers may go dormant if conditions are cool enough.  If this happens, reduce watering, giving just enough to keep the soil slightly moist, so the tubers don't shrivel.  Indoors, the plant might not go dormant, or it may go semi-dormant.  Don't feed it while it's semi-dormant.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Start with insecticidal soap spray before using stronger remedies.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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