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Turquoise Puya

 

Fuchsia mathewsii

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best germination

 The seeds are easy to germinate. Use any small containers with drainage holes.  Use a typical, well-draining soil mix, such as 2 parts high-quality potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is equal parts of perlite and coco fiber, with some granular fertilizer mixed in.

 Fill each container to almost to the top.  Don't compress the soil.  Water it so that it's uniformly moist. Place 2 or 3 seeds on top, and sprinkle a thin layer of soil on top - just enough to barely cover the seeds (1/8 inch = 2 mm). Lightly water or spray this top layer.  

 The seeds germinate well between about 65-78 degrees F (18-26C). A little cooler at night is ok.  Avoid letting them get above 80F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer next to the pots.

 Ensure that the soil surface always stays moist.  If you enclose the pots in a plastic container, leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the soil each day to keep it moist.

 Place the containers in a bright spot out of direct sun.  An LED or fluorescent lamp kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").

 The seeds usually start sprouting within 4-6 weeks, but sometimes they take up to 10 weeks to start.  Once they sprout, give them good air circulation.  Water the soil whenever the surface looks dry, but don't keep it soggy either.  If you have more than one seedling in each container, snip off the weaker one(s) when they are 4-6 weeks old - or very carefully remove them. 

 I recommend growing them indoors until they're at least 3 months old.  Give them bright light out of direct sun, unless it is weak sun. 

 Fuchsias don't like dry air.  If your plants seem to suffer from dry air indoors, consider using a room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Watering - Aim to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Do not let the soil dry out, but don't keep it constantly saturated either.

 Fertilizing - The first 8 weeks, give a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength) once a week.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  After 8 weeks, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, or continue feeding weekly with dilute liquid fertilizer.

 Growing onward...

Watering - For the first month, keep the soil surface moist, since the seedlings have a small root system.  After the first month, it's ok to let the soil surface dry out between waterings, but try to keep the lower soil evenly moist most of the time.  Never let it dry out completely, but don't keep it constantly soggy either, and don't let them sit in a tray of water.

Climate -- It comes from mountain cloud forests in Peru, and like most Fuchsias, it prefers mild daytime temperatures and cool nights.  It can tolerate warm days provided that nights are cool.  I don't know if it will thrive if temperatures regularly get above 85 degrees F (29 C) and nights are above 65 degrees F (18 C).  I don't think it can survive temperatures below freezing.

Over about 50% humidity is best.  If the plants seem to suffer from low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.

 Pruning -- The plant tends to have a wide growth habit, but you can encourage a more upward, tree-like shape by removing some of the lower side branches after the plant is about 6 months old.

Pests to watch for - Watch for any bugs that typically affect your other plants.  Try using insecticidal soap before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.

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

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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