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Turquoise Puya

The dazzling Turquoise Ixia (Ixia viridiflora) has one of the rarest and most beautiful colors in the plant world.  Each spring, this Freesia relative sends up striking, 1.5 to 2 foot tall flower spikes that demand attention!  Each stem has 12 to 24 blooms of shimmering aquamarine or sea-green.  The satiny purple centers and yellow anthers contrast beautifully with the petals.  Unfortunately, this lovely plant is endangered in its homeland of South Africa.  Adult bulbs are rarely seen for sale.

The Turquoise Ixia comes from the Cape region of South Africa, where it grows during the winter and goes dormant for the summer.  Each year, the bulb-like corm produces several baby corms, which may be separated.  The flowers appear around April or May in the Northern hemisphere.  The petals close up at night and open in sunlight, repeating this for several days.  In the wild, the unusual flower color attracts beetle species, which pollinate the blooms.  A paler form of this Ixia exists, which is not as attractive as this form in my opinion.  The Turquoise Ixia is unfortunately declining in the wild due to over-harvesting and habitat destruction.

It is relatively easy to grow, provided that its basic needs are met.  It does best in temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees F (4-27 degrees C) during its growing season of October to May (April to November in the Southern hemisphere).  Warmer temperatures might be tolerated if nights are cool.  During the summer dormancy, the corms must be kept dry to avoid rotting.  The plants should receive mostly-sunny conditions during the winter growing period, and must be protected from frost.  They grow well in a small pot in quick-draining soil, such as a mix of 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part potting soil.  In the right conditions, this is an easy and very exciting plant to grow.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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