Puya alpestris Gay
Mountain Puya, Sapphire Tower
Puya alpestris subsp. alpestris, Pitcairnia alpestris, Pourretia alpestris
Puya alpestris is an amazing plant that forms an up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall clump of rosettes of green leaves with spines along the margins. The leaves are narrow, arching, up to 2 feet (60 cm) long, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Flowers are turquoise blue-green with vivid orange stamens are held on a branching, up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall stalks. They appear in spring, but usually not every year. Each branch of the inflorescence terminates in a long sterile branch with pink bracts.
USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
You can get Blue Puya seed and start the plants yourself in a greenhouse. Puyas are slow to germinate and require at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Use well-drained potting soil in a seed flat. Keep the seeds moderately moist until they sprout. Once you see seedlings, move the flat to a brightly lit area with protection from the harsh light of midday.
Transplant the seedlings when they have formed a rosette. Plants can tolerate a crowded pot. In USDA zones 8 to 11, you can transplant rosettes to the garden, but they will have to be moved indoors in winter in other zones. Up until the cold temperatures appear, Blue Puya makes a great patio specimen.
Water Puya plants in the ground once per week in summer. Potted plants should be watered when the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. Water the plant only once per month in winter when the plant is dormant. Fertilize with diluted succulent food or indoor plant food in spring. Remove spent foliage from the rosettes for the best appearance.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Blue Puya.
This species is native to Chilean Andes.
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