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Turquoise Puya

 

Parrot's Beak

Clianthus puniceus

 

Note - your seeds might have some white fluff around them. This is the natural "packing material" that's produced inside the seed pod.  It is not mold. :-)

Pre-treatment -- Rub each seed lightly over sandpaper or a nail file for a few seconds to scratch the hard seed coat, so water can enter easier. Next soak the seeds in a cup of water for about 6-8 hours.  Don't let the seeds soak for more than 12 hours.  Plant them immediately after the soak.

Planting the seeds --  Start them in small pots about 2-3 inches tall (5-7 cm) with drainage holes.  Use a well-draining soil mix, such as 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse sand. Fill the pots with the soil mix, place a seed on top, cover with 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil, and water until evenly moist.

Put the pots in an area that is about 65-76 degrees F. (18-25C). Water them whenever the surface begins to dry out.  If you enclose the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to allow fresh air in.  Most of the seeds should sprout within 4 to 6 weeks, although allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones, especially at cooler temperatures.

Once they sprout, move them into morning sunlight or the equivalent.  For the first few months, shade them from strong afternoon sun, and keep them above 55 degrees (13C).

Growing on -- Repot to larger containers when they are 1-2 months old.  Water the soil before repotting, to keep the soil ball from breaking apart, which can damage the delicate roots.  For the first week after repotting, shade from sun and give no fertilizer.

Fertilizer & water -- Parrot's Beak has average fertilizing needs.  Feed about every 2 months using ordinary, general-purpose fertilizer.

Climate -- It does best with temperatures above freezing, although it reportedly can take brief dips down to 22 degrees F (-5C).  If you are not in Zones 8b through 11, you may grow it in a pot and move it indoors for the winter, pruning it to any size that is convenient.  It prefers mostly sunny conditions, although some afternoon shade may be needed in warmer areas. The plant is happiest below 85 degrees (29C) and might lag in consistently hot summers with warm nights.

Feel free to train the branches to grow along a fence or trellis.  When the plant blooms, the flowers will dangle down, creating a spectacular effect.  You may trim any branches that will block the "view" of the blooms.

Pests to watch for - spider mites, mealy bugs, and slugs/snails.

Good luck with them!

- Jeff

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Turquoise Puya

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