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Turquoise Puya

Mitraria coccinea

 Mitraria coccinea is a gorgeous, rare species from Chile with brilliant red flowers with the texture of velvet.  These curvaceous blooms remind me of a woman's dress.  The Chileans think it looks like a little bottle, so they call it "Botellita".  The velvety, 1 inch flowers appear throughout much of the year on this unusual African Violet relative.  My digital camera simply can't capture the rich, intense RED of the flowers!  This cool-climate plant is a hard-to-find plant, and rarely seen for sale in the U.S. 

Mitraria coccinea

Photo courtesy of Stan Shebs

Mitraria is an evergreen perennial in the Gesneriad family.  This is the only species in the genus Mitraria, and it's found only in the cool rainforests of Chile.  It creeps and climbs several feet in each direction, although it may be pruned to any size you wish.  It is perfect for a hanging planter, where its lush foliage and vibrant blooms can be admired up close.  It flowers throughout most of the year for me, with the heaviest show from spring through autumn.  An orange-flowered form of this species exists, however mine is pure red.

Mitraria coccinea

Mitraria coccinea

It prefers mild daytime temperatures and cool nights.  It might not thrive if temperatures regularly get above 85F (29C) and nights are above 65F (18C).  If you can grow Fuchsias or Clivia, you should be able to grow Mitraria. 

Since it comes from rain forests, it should be protected from strong afternoon sun.  Tree-filtered sunlight or morning sun + bright shade suits it well.  It reportedly can survive 16-20 degrees F (-10C), but try to protect it from prolonged frosts.  It is definitely happiest above freezing.  It likes fertile, well-draining soil that's slightly acidic and kept evenly moist.  Over about 40-45% humidity is best.  In the right conditions it is easy and vigorous.

Mitraria coccinea

 

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Turquoise Puya

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