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Turquoise Puya

 

Columnea arguta

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.  Use pots at least 2 inches (5 cm) tall 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.  Don't add lime to the mix.

 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 pull them and transplant them, or cut off any slower ones, and leave 1 strong seedling in each pot.

Fertilizing -- The first 3 months, 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, 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 -- This is a tropical species that wants mild to warm conditions all year.  It grows well for me indoors with day temperatures in the mid-70s (24C) and nights in the mid-60s (18C).  It probably will be unhappy below 50 F (10C), and i doubt it can survive frost.  It likes bright, filtered light, with protection from strong sun.  Over about 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, please contact me.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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