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Turquoise Puya

 

"Elephant's Foot" Impatiens

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Getting started -- Use a fast-draining soil mix.  I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 2 parts perlite (use small- or medium-grade perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is 1 part quality potting soil to 2 parts perlite.  If you use peat moss instead of coir fiber, or if your water is "soft" (low in minerals), add a small amount of agricultural lime (dolomite lime, not hydrated or quick lime).  Add only teaspoon of lime per gallon of soil (3 cc per 4 liters).

 Use small pots or cups that have drainage holes.  Fill the pots, without packing down the soil.  Place a seed on top and cover with a thin layer of long-fibered sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss).  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 moss, sprinkle a small amount of your potting mix around the seeds.  Add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil doesn't dry out.  A propagation dome or plastic box works well for maintaining moisture.  Keep it open slightly to allow fresh air to circulate, to prevent stem rot later on. 

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

 They sprout well between 68 and 78 degrees F (20-26C) during the day, and 65-70F (18-21C) at night.  I have no experience germinating them outside that temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 These seeds take longer to sprout than typical Impatiens, and they usually sprout at different times.  Most of them should sprout between about 4 and 6 months, but a few may sprout later or sooner.  Please be patient with them.  Increase the air ventilation slightly after they sprout to avoid rot.  Continue keeping the soil surface moist (but not soggy) for 8 weeks after they sprout.

Lighting -- They like bright, filtered light.  Young seedlings should be protected from sun the first 2-3 months.  Older plants grow well in bright shade, dappled sunlight, or morning sun.  Shade from strong afternoon sun.

Fertilizing -- The first 2 months, feed every 7 days with a small amount of dilute liquid fertilizer (1/8 strength).  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for small seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 2 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

Transplanting -- When your plants are about 2 inches tall (5 cm), gently transfer them to larger pots.  Avoid letting the soil ball break apart when repotting, which can damage the roots.

Watering -- Try to keep the soil evenly moist, but not fully saturated.  Avoid letting it dry out completely.

Climate -- It grows well for me indoors between 60 and 80 degrees F (16-27C).  I have no knowledge of how well it grows outside that temperature range.  I don't think it will be happy below 50 degrees F (10C).

Dormancy care - It's normal for the plant to drop it's branches and go dormant for 2-3 months per year.  When this happens reduce watering until the soil is just slightly moist.  Avoid letting it dry out completely.

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

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

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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