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Turquoise Puya

Paramongaia weberbaueri

Paramongaia weberbaueri - the "Giant Peruvian Daffodil" - is a beautiful and rarely-seen bulb in the Amaryllis family.  Its giant 6-7 inch Daffodil-like blooms are highly fragrant, with a scent as strong as Lilies!  This Peruvian native is rare in the wild, and equally rare in cultivation.  I don't know anyone else in the U.S. currently offering it.  A nice collection of photos of it is here.

Paramongaia grows throughout winter and spring, and the bulb goes dormant during summer.  It has upright, strap-like leaves about 20 to 30 inches long.  While the leaves are emerging in winter, it sends up a 1 to 2 foot tall scape topped with a single hand-sized flower.  The entire bloom is lemon-yellow, except for vivid green stamen filaments and orange anthers.  The scent is very pleasant.  The plant makes seeds readily without a second plant.  A summer-growing form of this species exists, but it doesn't make seeds by itself.

Paramongaia comes from Paramonga in Peru, where the climate is mild all year.  During the winter and spring growing period, it prefers temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees F (10-24C).  It's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures are regularly above that, especially if nights are warm.  Fortunately it goes dormant during the summer.  It may be induced into dormancy for up to 6 months if necessary simply by withholding water.

It prefers mostly sunny conditions during winter & spring.  Give it a fast-draining soil mix, such as 2 parts coarse sand to 1 part potting soil.  Grow it in a tall pot, since the bulb tends to dig itself deep to stay cool.  It wants regular water and feeding during the growing season.  While dormant, keep the soil completely dry.  The plant might not thrive in very dry air - over 50% humidity is recommended.  Protection from frost is essential.

Watercolor by Joanna Langhorne

 

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Turquoise Puya

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