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Turquoise Puya

Puya dasylirioides

The rare Puya dasylirioides from Costa Rica is unusual in several ways.  Almost all other Puya species are lined with painfully sharp spines (Puya is Spanish for point), but this species has completely smooth leaves.  And while most Puya species live in arid conditions much like cacti, this one chooses to live in soggy peat bogs.  This odd Bromeliad flowers throughout the summer with an impressive 4 to 7 foot tall flower stalk lined with bright blue blooms.  More pictures of this interesting plant are here.  This is a cool-climate species that is untested in warmer conditions.  It's a very desirable collector's plant, and probably unavailable elsewhere online.

Puya dasylirioides

The bogs that it inhabits dry up for a few months each year, so it has developed a deep root system to reach down to the water layer.  It does not seem to require boggy conditions in cultivation, at least here in coastal California.  The plant forms a rosette of smooth, leathery leaves 1 to 2 feet long, with powdery-blue undersides.  It multiplies readily with pups, eventually forming a large colony.  The plants flower unusually young for Puya species, at just 4-5 years.  The inch-long flowers appear along the upper half of the club-shaped stalk.  The stalk is curiously filled with a dense, wooly material that acts like a thermal blanket, keeping the blooms warm in the cool highlands of Costa Rica.

Puya dasylirioides

Puya dasylirioides

Don't try this with other Puya species!

Puya dasylirioides comes from 2300-3300 meter elevation, where the climate is cool all year.  It has taken temperatures in the mid-80s (30C), but it's possible that it won't thrive in consistently warmer conditions, especially if nights are warm.  It is said to have taken winter lows of 19 F (-7C), and might even handle colder temperatures.  I recommend protecting it from frost the first 2 years.  It grows well in a deep pot in normal cactus soil that contains no lime.  Water it deeply occasionally, and avoid letting the soil dry out completely.  Some protection from strong afternoon sun might be needed in warmer climates.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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