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Turquoise Puya

Giant Spear Lily

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, they probably munched on plants like Doryanthes palmeri - the Giant Spear Lily!  Growing to 12 feet tall, with massive, 11-foot flower stalks, this is one of the largest Lily relatives around.  A native of eastern Australia, it is disappearing fast there due to habitat destruction.  Here in the U.S. it is rarely seen for sale.  In the right environment, it's an easy-to-grow plant - and an amazing conversation piece!  Seeds can be difficult to grow unless fresh, so i offer established plants.

Giant Spear Lily

The Giant Spear Lily forms a huge rosette of oversized leaves, each of which can eventually reach 12 feet long and 9 inches wide.  The flower spikes, which appear from winter through summer, get so heavy they arch downwards.  The flower stalks in my photos are between 9 and 11 feet long!  The large blooms are 5 inches across and are brilliant red, attracting all sorts of birds.  This is a slow-growing but very long-lived species.  A colony can live 100 years or more.  Be patient with the Giant Spear Lily, as it will take 10-12 years to reach flowering size.

Doryanthes palmeri

The Giant Spear Lily comes from coastal Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, where temperatures are mild all year.  It's possible that it won't thrive in areas that regularly get over 85 degrees F (29C) and nights are warm (over 65F / 18C). It does best when protected from frost, although it reportedly can take 5 or 10 degrees of frost (-4C), with new growth sprouting from the roots.  It enjoys mostly sunny conditions.  Some afternoon shade might be needed in hotter climates.  It may be grown in a pot for several years, and moved indoors if necessary.  It likes well-draining soil of relatively low fertility.  Keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.

Doryanthes palmerii

Giant Spear Lily leaves

 

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Turquoise Puya

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