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Turquoise Puya

Quesnelia lateralis

This is a close look at the beautiful Quesnelia lateralis.  This unusual Bromeliad makes vibrant red stems topped with sky blue flowers that almost seem luminous!  The plant is found only in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, which is threatened with deforestation & urban expansion.  Fortunately the plant is easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of temperature and light.  It is pretty uncommon in cultivation and seldom seen for sale.

Quesnelia lateralis

It grows to about 1 feet tall, forming an attractive rosette of leaves shaped somewhat like Aechmea.  The back of the leaves develop a silvery powder coating of trichomes, especially when grown in strong light.  The leaves are lined with small spines, but they're not usually bothersome.  The 1 foot tall flower spikes can appear any time of year, usually emerging from outside the rosette - hence the name lateralis - but sometimes from the center of the plant like most Bromeliads.  It makes multiple spikes, each with about a dozen inch-long flowers that emerge from the red bracts.  If grown in cooler conditions, the red stems & bracts keep their bright color for several months after flowering!  The plant multiplies readily with offsets, which you may separate.

Quesnelia lateralis

 It's happiest when grown above 40⁰F, but it reportedly can survive a few degrees of frost.  It can take anything from full sun down to bright shade.  In the wild, it usually grows on the forest floor, but it can grow as an epiphyte on trees too.  It's easy to grow in a small pot in a well-draining mix, preferably with some small bark pieces or other chunky material mixed in.  It's fairly drought tolerant, but i try to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  You can water the "tank" of leaves too like with some other Bromeliads, but it's not necessary.  Overall it's a pretty tough plant and is rarely bothered by pests.

Quesnelia lateralis

 

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