Grow Puya plants from seeds
Grow Puya plants from seeds
Grow Puya plants from seeds: Introduction to Puyas, which are bromeliads with spectacular flowers.
Puya is a little known bromeliad from South and Central America, that grow as a thorny twisted leaf mass.
These plants are some of the most spectacular plants in the plant kingdom.
These plants are frost tolerant, heat-loving, drought tolerant bromeliads that love the arid sun. They can be grown anywhere, as long as they get heat. These plants, themselves are somewhat not ornamental, that is, until they bloom. The flowers are absolutely spectacular.
Puya is a very large genus of bromeliad, both in number of species and in size of plant. The genus includes the world’s largest species of bromeliad the Puya ramondii, which grows up to 30 feet tall and 9 feet across. There are about 199 species within the Puya genus.
Shape and form
Many Puyas resemble yuccas, agave and other succulent plants, but they are not related to one another.
Puyas adjust to arid conditions, by suspending their growth, while true succulents store water in their tissues.
A unique characteristic
Some Puyas are proto carnivourous.
This means that animals can become trapped and entangled in their spines. They die while trapped. Then, as they decompose they provide nutrients for the plants through the soil. Many of the plants also have spines that act as protection from grazing animals.
Puyas grow very large, but slowly. Puyas often take years, or even decades to produce a flower.
Many species of Puya produce giant flower spikes, that grow very tall and produce hundreds of flowers.
They are monocarpic, which means they produce only one flower spike and eventually die.
Before they die they will produce many offsets. The plants usually grow in large colonies.
Puyas like plenty of sun and water during the summer growing season. They require dry soil during cold temperatures. These plants can survive temperatures as low as 18 degrees for a time.
This feature makes them an ideal plant for growing outdoors.
One disadvantage of Puyas is their size. It may be difficult to find space within a garden or landscape to house a mature Puya. Puyas are have stiff leaves and sharp spines making them a bit more difficult to manage. In many cases Puya’s unique form and attractive flowers make them worth the extra effort to include in a bromeliad collection.
While the genus is abundant with species, not many are grown for cultivation.
However, there are a few that can be found in botanical gardens, through out the world.
There are also seeds and starts, available from specialty retailers.
Tips to remember
Puyas do best outside in full sun conditions. Many Puyas are hardy, down to several degrees below freezing. However, young Puyas should be protected from frost. Puyas also require very dry soil in the winter. Make sure the Puyas are placed in a well drained area. Do not expose them to too much water during the dormant season.
Most Puyas like plenty of water during the summer growing season.
Puyas make great landscape plants in arid regions. They are also excellent container plants in just about any region.
If the weather in the winter becomes too cold or too wet, simply move the container to a protected area.
With a little patience the Puya’s bizarre and brilliant inflorescence will be very rewarding.
Try to include a Puya in your collection of bromeliads.
Germinating the seeds
Fresh seeds are easy to germinate. Use small containers that have drainage holes. A well-draining soil is necessary, such as cactus soil.
You may make your own mix with 1 part potting soil and 1 part perlite or coarse sand.
An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber to 2 parts perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed into it.
Fill each container and water it so that it is uniformly moist. Place 1 or 2 seeds on top, and sprinkle a very thin layer of soil on top. Just enough to barely cover the seeds, as the seeds need some light to germinate.
Drip a few drops of water over the seeds.
Make sure that the surface soil never dries out, until the seeds sprout.
The seeds germinate well between 65-74 degrees F (18-24°C).
Germination might decline if the temperature gets too hot. Place a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, to watch the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.
Keep the pots in bright light away from direct sun. A fluorescent bulb kept 5 inches (12 cm) away provides the right amount of light.
Many of the seeds should sprout within 4 weeks. You can allow up to 8 weeks for any slow ones. Continue to keep the surface soil moist until the seedlings have their second set of leaves. It is then that you may let the surface dry out between watering.
Once the seedlings have their third set of leaves, you may give them some morning sun.
Transition them to stronger lighting gradually, and protect them from strong sun the first 2-3 months.
After about 10-12 months they should be ready for full sun, except in a very hot climate.
Feed about every 2-3 months with a slow-release fertilizer.
If your potting soil contains fertilizer, your seedlings should not need feeding the first month.
While the plants are fairly drought tolerant, they grow the fastest when given adequate water.
Thus, avoid letting the soil completely dry out. Do not let the pots sit in a tray of water.
If you are in a heavy rainfall area, use extra perlite, pumice or coarse sand in your mix.
Repot your plants to a larger container whenever necessary. Protect your plants from frost the first winter or two.
Also keep them fairly dry during the winter, unless temperatures are above freezing.
In very hot conditions, some afternoon shade is a good idea.
If the leaves develop a white powder on them, consider this as normal.
Grow Puya plants from seeds