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Turquoise Puya

 

Boophone haemanthoides

Boophone haemanthoides

 

Germinating the seeds

 

Please plant your seeds the day they arrive!

Getting started -- The seeds may send out a root during shipping, so handle them carefully.  Start by soaking them overnight in a cup of water.

Soil -- Use a very fast draining mix to germinate them.  A typical mix is 3 parts perlite or coarse horticultural sand to 1 part coir fiber or potting soil.  If you have fine-grade perlite, you may use only that, with no other amendments.

Pot size - You may plant them in individual pots or use a single pot.  Either way, they should be at least 3 inches tall (7 cm) and have drainage holes.  Plan on keeping the seedlings in their pot, undisturbed, the first year.

 Fill the pots with your soil mix and press the seeds into the surface so that it is almost covered, with only the tip showing.  If using a single pot, place the seeds at least 1.5 inches (4 cm) apart from each other. Water thoroughly.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil never dries out.  If you place the pots in a plastic container or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter.

Temperature -- Aim to keep them between 68 and 78 F (20-26C) during the day, and a little cooler at night (60-74F = 16-23C).  Avoid letting them get above 82 F (28C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Keep them in a bright spot out of direct sun.  A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.  Within a month they should begin sending down a root (although this sometimes can take longer) and then send up its first leaf a few weeks later. 

 Once they sprout, give them very bright light.  A fluorescent of LED bulb kept 2 inches (5 cm) away gives the right amount of light.  Sun is ok if it's not too strong, but watch for burning.  Gradually increase the sun exposure over a period of a few months until it is in full sun.

 Continue keeping the soil moist, but don't keep it soggy.  If a seed happens to rise out of the soil surface and the root is exposed, simply pile some soil around the root.  Or carefully dig it up and plant it deeper.

Fertilizing --  Once they begin sending up a leaf, give a very light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat every 7-10 days.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  Once they are 3 months old, you may switch to a granular fertilizer if you wish.  Use a general-purpose fertilizer that contains micronutrients, and follow the dosage on the package.

Growing onward...

 It comes from the northern and western Cape sections of South Africa, where temperatures are mild during the winter growing period.  It probably can take warmer conditions throughout the growing season (October to April in the northern hemisphere), provided that nights are cool (below 65F / 18C).  It's possible that the combination of hot days with warm nights might stress it, especially younger plants.  I believe it can take a few degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from freezing temperatures, especially the first 4-5 years. 

 It's best to repot them only when dormant.  When repotting, use a fast-draining, sandy-rocky soil mix and a tall pot, to accommodate its deep root system.  Keep about 1/2 of the bulb above ground. 

 Give it ample sun and regular waterings during the winter growing period, and keep the soil almost dry during the summer dormancy.  Seedlings might not go dormant their first summer, and if this happens, continue keeping the soil moist. 

If you have any questions or problems, please contact me.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things

 

 

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