Strange Wonderful Things

 Rare and exotic plants

Turquoise Puya


"Small red" Bomarea

 Bomarea sp. - "Small red"

Germinating the seeds


 Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate

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

 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-size perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Don't add lime to the mix. 

 Fill the pots, 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 60-78 degrees F (16-26C) during the day, and 40-60 (4-16C) at night, perhaps on the floor of a cool room.  Avoid letting the seeds get above 80F (27C).  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 normally germinate at different times, with the earliest ones sprouting as soon as 5 to 8 weeks.  Please be patient with them.

 If any haven't sprouted by 12 weeks, move them into 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, and mark your calendar to check on them every 2 weeks, to see if they have sprouted. After 6 weeks, move them back into room temperature.  They should start sprouting within 6 weeks, but allow up to 12 weeks for any slow ones. 

 Once they sprout, give them bright light, but shade them from strong sun the first 3-4 months.  See: "Growing indoors with LED lights"

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

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 plant.  Watering the soil before transplanting can help keep the soil ball together.

 Growing onward...

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 partly sunny conditions.  It can take full sun in cool climates, but in warmer climates, 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 play on, like a trellis, fence, or another plant.  It should ideally be under 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, so the plant can twine it's way around easier.  The flowers appear from the growing tips, so don't prune your plant (unless a branch dies back), but you may wrap any overly long strands down around your trellis.   

Dormancy -- It might go dormant for a few months in winter if temperatures are cool enough.  So if the shoots 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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