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Turquoise Puya

 

Columnea brenneri

Columnea arguta

 

Germinating the seeds

 

  If you have germinated small seeds of other Gesneriads before, you may use the same method that worked for you.  The method below works for me.

Getting started -- Plant your seeds when you receive them for best results. 

 You may plant them in a single pot, or use several smaller pots.  Either way, they should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) tall and have 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.  Don't add lime to the mix.

 The seeds are small, so work in a well-lit area.  Fill the pots with soil and sprinkle the seeds evenly in the pots, at least 1/4 inch (1 cm) from each other.

 If you have long-fiber sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss), sprinkle a little over the surface.  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 sphagnum moss, sprinkle some of your soil mix over the surface.  Then add water until everything is evenly moist.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface never dries out.  You can maintain high humidity by enclosing the pots in a plastic container or bag - just leave it open a crack to let in fresh air.  Once or twice a day, drip a few drops of water on the surface to keep it moist.

 The seeds germinate well between 68-80 degrees F (20-27C) during the day, and a little cooler at night.  I don't have experience germinating them outside this temperature range.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Place the containers in a bright spot out of direct sun.  A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) above them provides the right amount of light. 

 They should start sprouting in 3-4 weeks, but may take up to 6 weeks.  Continue dripping water on the soil surface the first month after they sprout, since young seedlings have a small root system.

 When the seedlings are 2 months old, you may carefully dig them up and transplant them, or cut off any slower ones, and leave 1 strong seedling in each pot.

Fertilizing -- The first 3 months 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 3 months weeks, 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.

Watering -- Once the seedlings are a month old, you may stop keeping the soil surface moist at all times.  Aim to keep the rest of the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).

Lighting -- It likes bright, filtered light, with protection from strong sun.

Climate -- It comes from tropical rain forests, where temperatures are mild to warm all year.  It grows well for me indoors with day temperatures in the mid-70s (24C) and nights in the mid-60s (18C).  It does not enjoy being below 50 F (10C) and cannot take frost.  It likes bright, filtered light, and probably will need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 45-50% humidity is best.  If your plants seem to suffer from low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic humidifier.

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

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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