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Turquoise Puya

Racinaea dyeriana (Tillandsia dyeriana)

One of my favorite Bromeliads!  Racinaea dyeriana - formerly known as Tillandsia dyeriana - is a spectacular "air plant" from mangrove forests in Ecuador.  It has a striking resemblance to Heliconia (Lobster Claw), making a super-bright orange flower spike that lasts for many weeks.  It's hard to capture the color in photos, but it is very intense, like an orange safety vest!  This is an endangered species that is nearing extinction in the wild.  It's rarely available in the US, but it isn't too difficult to grow if you can meet it's basic needs - warmth and some humidity.

Racinaea dyeriana (Tillandsia dyeriana)

The plant grows about a foot tall, forming an upright rosette of leaves shaped like a vase.  The leaves develop attractive purple spots, especially when grown in bright light.  In the wild, it grows as an epiphyte on tree branches, where the brightly colored bracts attract hummingbirds.  The 1 foot long inflorescence emerges from the center of the plant and then arches over, usually dividing into 2 to 4 spikes.  The flowers are small & white, opening progressively from the base of the spike outward.  The blooms aren't spectacular, but the orange bracts remain attractive long after the flowers are done.  The plant tends to die within a year after flowering, but it usually makes one or more baby offsets that continue on.

 This is a tropical species that needs temperatures over 55⁰F (13⁰C), and preferably over 62⁰F (17⁰C).  It's grown fine for me at 50% humidity, but i have no information on how much lower it can take.  Feel free to grow it in a terrarium or plant case.  It likes bright, filtered light, and should be protected from strong direct sun.

Racinaea dyeriana (Tillandsia dyeriana)

This "air plant" makes some roots, but they're mostly for support, and the plant gets most of its water & nutrients through its leaves.  You can either grow it in a pot, or mount it to a piece of cork, wood, etc. and hang it up.  In a pot, give it a porous mix, like equal parts of long-fiber sphagnum moss and small bark or large perlite.  Only bury the roots, not the base of the leaves, and keep the mix moist but not soggy.

I keep some water in the "tank" of the leaves most of the time.  Try to avoid using cold water.  If your water is high in minerals ("hard" water), it's best to use rain water or bottled spring water.  I feed about every 2 weeks by putting some diluted liquid fertilizer in the tank.  I recommend using hydroponic or orchid fertilizer, at about 1/4 to 1/8 strength.  The plant is rarely bothered by pests.

 

 

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Photo #1 courtesy of Timm Stolten

 

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