Strange Wonderful Things

 Rare and exotic plants

Turquoise Puya


"Orange Sunset" Bomarea


Germinating the seeds


Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate

Your seeds might arrive with some mold on them, since they are sent moist.  If they have mold, simply rub it off on a wet towel.  A little mold on them will not affect germination.

Seed pre-treatment -- Soak your seeds in room-temperature water for about 12 hours (not more than 24 hours).

 Plant each seed in a separate pot at least 2 inches tall (5 cm) with drainage holes.  For soil, use a well draining mix.  I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite (use fine- or medium-grade perlite, not coarse-grade).  An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Don't add lime to the mix.   Place a seed on top and cover with about 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil.  Add water until evenly moist.

 Keep the pots in an area that will stay about 65-77 degrees F (18-25C) during the day, and 45-65 (7-18C) at night.  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots. 

 Keep the soil surface moist (but not soggy).  If you place the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, keep it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter, to avoid stem rot later. 

 The seeds will germinate at different times, with the earliest ones sprouting as soon as 5 to 8 weeks.  After 10 weeks, move any that have not sprouted in the refrigerator for 6 weeks, to trick them into thinking that winter has passed.  Alternatively, you may place them outside if night temperatures are between 35 and 55F (2-13C).  If you put them in the refrigerator, place them a sealed plastic container first, and mark your calendar to check on them every 2 weeks, to see if any seeds have sprouted.

 After the 6 weeks in the refrigerator or outside, move them back into room temperature.  They should start sprouting within 6 weeks, but allow up to 12 weeks for any slow ones. 

When they sprout, give them bright light, but shade them from strong sun the first 2-3 months.  An LED or fluorescent bulb kept 3 inches (8 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").

Fertilizing -- The first 3 months, feed weekly with a small amount of  diluted (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and complete.  After 3 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

Transplanting -- Wait until the 2nd or 3rd shoot appears before repotting.  A 6 inch (15 cm) tall pot will hold it for several months.  Then move it to a 1 gallon (4 liter) pot for a year, and finally a 5 or 10 gallon (20-40 liter) pot.

 Transplant carefully and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can disturb the roots.  Watering the soil before transplanting can help keep the soil ball together.

Soil -- Bomarea likes fertile, well-draining soil.  Don't add lime to the soil, since Bomarea likes slightly acid soil.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time.  Avoid letting the soil dry out, but don't keep it perpetually soggy either.

Light -- It likes dappled sun or morning sun + bright shade.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.

Climate -- Most Bomareas come from cloud forests of the Andes mountains, where temperatures are mild all year and nights are cool.  Most Bomareas don't thrive in hot climates, especially if nights are warm.  It's possible that this plant will not perform well if temperatures consistently get above 85 F (30C) and nights are above 65 F (18C).  The foliage may be killed by frost, but the tubers should be hardy to at least 25F (-4C). Indoors, over about 40% humidity is best.

Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so give it something to twine itself around, like a trellis, fence, or another plant.  It should ideally be thin (under 1 inch / 2.5 cm thick).  Don't cut the tip of the shoots, but you may wrap any overly long ones down and around your trellis. The flowers appear from the growing tips.   

Dormancy -- This variety may go dormant for a few months in the winter if temperatures are cool enough.  If the plant should die back then, reduce watering until the spring.  Don't try to dig up or separate the tubers, as this may kill the plant.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Snails and slugs are attracted to young shoots.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

Strange Wonderful Things



Strange Wonderful Things

Rare and exotic plants

Turquoise Puya

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