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Turquoise Puya

Ceratostema rauhii

Ceratostema rauhii is an amazing, rare plant that you might never guess is in the blueberry family.  It makes a dramatic curtain of chain-like stems up to 5 feet long!  Throughout the year, bright pink, bell-shaped blooms appear along the shoots.  This unique plant comes from the cloud forests of Peru, where it is considered endangered.  It is an outstanding collector's plant that is rarely seen for sale.

Ceratostema rauhii

 Ceratostema grows as an epiphyte on trees in the wild.  It looks best when grown in a hanging planter and allowed to spill over the edges.  While its stems may look rather sharp & stiff, they are surprisingly soft and fuzzy, adding a great tactile element to the garden.  If the shoots happen to grow too long, simply trim them back.  The inch-long flowers peek out from between the leaves all along the shoots, especially on the newer growth.  These 5-petaled blossoms are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.  After flowering, it makes round, translucent berries that are lightly sweet and reportedly high in antioxidants.

Ceratostema rauhii

It comes from a mild climate that has cool nights, so it prefers conditions enjoyed by cool- to intermediate-temperature Orchids.  Daytime temperatures below 85 degrees F (29 C) are best, with nights below 65 F (18 C).  I haven't tried it outdoors, so use caution below 40 degrees F (5 C).  I don't think it can survive frost.  It likes bright light, but shade it from strong afternoon sun.  Grow it in a fine-grade epiphytic mix that's kept evenly moist.  A typical mix is equal parts of fine bark, perlite, and coir fiber or sphagnum moss.  It likes slightly-acid conditions, so don't add lime to the mix.  Keep the soil evenly moist, and give regular, light feedings.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  Good air-flow is important for it to thrive.

Ceratostema rauhii

Photos used with permission of the S.F. State University greenhouse

 

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