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Turquoise Puya

 

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Dermatobotrys saundersii

Germinating the seeds

 

Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best germination

 

Getting started -- Use small containers or cups that have drainage holes.

 This plant prefers a loose, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-grade perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber or peat moss to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand.

 Fill the pots with the soil mix, and add water until uniformly moist, but not soggy. Place 1-2 seeds on top of each pot, and cover with a very thin layer of soil - just enough to barely cover them.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil stays moist.  An easy way to maintain moisture is to enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag - just leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water on the surface each day to keep it moist.

 They germinate well between about 66 and 77 degrees F (19-25C).  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80 F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 They tend to start germinating in about 4 to 5 weeks, but sometimes can take up to 8 weeks to start.  Cooler temperatures may slow germination.

Lighting -- Once they sprout, give bright shade, or filtered sunlight.  Avoid prolonged, direct sunlight until the plants are 2-3 months old.

Watering -- Continue keeping the soil surface moist the first 3 weeks.  Then keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Don't let it dry out completely, but don't keep it perpetually soggy either.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- The plant comes from a mild climate, without extremes in temperatures. It reportedly has handled temperatures up to 100 degrees F, but it is happiest below 90 degrees F (32C). It can probably survive a few degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from all frost, especially the first year.

 The humidity should be above about 40%.  Indoors, if the humidity is too low, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home-improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Fertilizing -- The first 8 weeks, feed every 7 days with a small amount of dilute liquid fertilizer (1/8 strength). 
Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 88 weeks, you may switch to granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, or continue feeding weekly with dilute liquid fertilizer.

 It's normal for older leaves to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone.  If you're sure the roots are moist enough, the plant may need more fertilizer, particularly nitrogen.  Keep in mind the plant normally drops some or all of its leaves each winter when exposed to cool temperatures.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2 months old, you may transfer them to a larger pot.  Water the soil first, and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can damage the roots.  After transplanting, avoid packing the soil down, and give no direct sun or liquid fertilizer the first week.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things

 

 

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