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Turquoise Puya

Hibiscus clayi

This is a rare look at Hibiscus clayi, a fantastic species from Hawaii that deserves to be widely grown.  All year long it makes bright red blossoms that are super showy.  Its glossy leaves are surprisingly attractive for Hibiscus, giving the plant a great tropical look.  This is an endangered species that is almost gone in its homeland of Kauai.  Fortunately it is easy to grow when given warmer conditions.

Hibiscus clayi

It forms a well-shaped bush that can get over 10 feet tall, but you can prune it down to any size you wish.  The lively, bright green foliage makes a great backdrop for the blooms, which appear singly at the ends of the branches.  The 3 inch blossoms are a vivid shade of red or pinkish red, and are accented by yellow pollen.  Apparently a narrow-petaled form of the species exists, but mine has wider petals.  It can flower all year if temperatures are warm enough. You might be able to hybridize it with other Hibiscus to create new hybrids.  The plant used to be widespread on Kauai, but non-native animals & people knocked the population down to 4 plants, and it is now critically endangered.

Hibiscus clayi

This is a tropical species that's happiest in intermediate to warm temperatures.  It can tolerate cool nights, and reportedly survive a light frost.  It grows great indoors in a pot.  It enjoys full sun or very bright artificial light, but it can take less light if you don't mind fewer blooms.  Give it well-draining soil and keep it evenly moist.  It grows fine for me in 50% humidity indoors.  I suspect it won't like very dry air.  Use fertilizer that's low or medium in phosphorus, so avoid "bloom" fertilizer.  It doesn't need lots of fertilizer to be happy. 

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