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Turquoise Puya

Tree dahlia 

No, i did not feed them steroids.  The amazing Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) grows all by itself to 20 feet tall!  In fact in its homeland of Central America, it is said to reach 30 feet!  The flowers - although beautiful - are just an added bonus.  The real excitement in my opinion is the fast-growing, tropical foliage and thick, bamboo-like stems.  They really add a lively and dramatic atmosphere to the garden.  People are always surprised to learn that this monster is a Dahlia!

This is a single plant!

The big flowers of Tree Dahlia are about 6 inches across, and are a gorgeous shade of purplish-pink.  The orange centers contrast nicely with the petals.  The arching flowers sprays can be 2 to 3 feet across and contain dozens of flowers, which fortunately point downward.  It almost looks as if the blooms are watching the garden! 

The thick, bamboo-like stems!

 The Tree Dahlia is not really a tree of course, but a tuberous perennial, like other dahlias.  This one flowers late in the year, around late November or early December, so frost may kill the flowers in some areas.  After flowering, you may cut the plant back to the ground, and new growth will shoot up in the spring.  You won't believe how fast this plant grows!  The attractive stems grow to 4 inches thick and are hollow like bamboo.  The stems were actually used by the ancient Aztecs as pipes to carry drinking water!  

The Tree Dahlia will flower in Zones 8 to 10, although it's known to flower in Zone 7b in warmer years.  The tubers are said to be hardy to 20-25 degrees F (-7 to -4C) if well-mulched. Or just move the tubers indoors for the winter.  Either full sun or a half-day of sun is fine.  Protection from strong winds is recommended, as the young shoots and flower sprays are fairly brittle.

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Detailed growing tips about this plant

 

Photo #4 by Aussie Gal

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Turquoise Puya

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