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Turquoise Puya

Pamianthe peruviana

This is a close look at a really special plant, Pamianthe peruviana.  This Amaryllis relative makes enormous flowers that are wildly beautiful and also have a terrific scent!   It's unusual among bulbs for growing as an epiphyte on trees rather than in soil, so you'll want to treat it more like an orchid than a bulb.  If you can provide the right conditions, it's an easy and very enjoyable plant.  This native of Peru is unfortunately extinct in the wild.  It is rarely seen for sale.

Pamianthe peruviana

Pamianthe is an evergreen bulb with long, strap-like leaves that grow 2 to 3 feet long.  The plant usually grows leaning to one side, although it can grow more upright under overhead lighting or if you support it upright.  The flowers emerge from between the leaves after the plant is 3-4 years old.  The flower stalk has 2 to 4 blooms, each with a super long flower tube that can be 8 inches long.  The flowers themselves can get over 6 inches across - one of the largest in the Amaryllis family!  They are pure white to creamy white, and have a delightful perfumey scent.  Pamianthe has not been seen in Peru in 50 years and is believed to be extinct in the wild.

It grows well between 65 and 85 degrees F (18-30C).  A drop in temperature at night is ok, but it should be kept above 55 F (13C).  It needs an open, fast-draining growing medium.  A typical mix is equal parts of fine-grade orchid bark and long-fiber New Zealand sphagnum moss.  I give regular feedings with diluted liquid fertilizer.  While the plant doesn't need a large pot, it can get top-heavy, so use a heavy pot.. or secure the plant so it doesn't tip over.  It enjoys bright, filtered light.  Some morning sun can work, but it needs shading from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 50% humidity is best for this rain forest plant.

Pamianthe peruviana

Photos used with permission of Hiroshi Kameda

 

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