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Turquoise Puya

 

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best germination

 

Getting started -- Use small containers or cups that have drainage holes.

 This plant prefers a loose, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber or peat moss to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix, and add water until uniformly moist, but not soggy. Place 1-2 seeds on top of each pot, and cover with a very thin layer of soil - just enough to barely cover them.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil stays moist.  An easy way to maintain moisture is to enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag - just leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the surface each day to keep it moist.

 They germinate well between about 66 and 77 degrees F (19-25C).  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80 F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 They tend to start germinating in about 4 to 5 weeks, but sometimes can take up to 8 weeks to start.  Cooler temperatures may slow germination.

Lighting -- Once they sprout, give bright light, but avoid prolonged, direct sunlight until the plants are 3 months old.  See: "Growing indoors with LED lights"

Watering -- Continue keeping the soil surface moist the first 3 weeks.  Then keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Don't let it dry out completely, but don't keep it perpetually soggy either.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- The plant comes from a mild climate, without extremes in temperatures. It reportedly has handled temperatures up to 100 degrees F, but it is happiest below 90 degrees F (32C). It can probably survive a few degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from all frost, especially the first year.

 The humidity should be above about 40%.  Indoors, if it seems to suffer from low humidity, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home-improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Fertilizing -- The first 8 weeks, feed once a week with a small amount of dilute liquid fertilizer (1/8 strength). 
Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 8 weeks, you may switch to granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the directions on the package.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2 months old, you may transfer them to a larger pot.  Avoid damaging the delicate roots when repotting.  The first week after transplanting, avoid packing the soil down, and give no direct sun or liquid fertilizer.

 The plant normally drops some or all of its leaves each winter when exposed to cool temperatures.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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