HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII FROM SEED

How to grow Puya raimondii - Queen of the Andes

Commonly known as the 'Queen Of The Andes', Puya Raimondii is an stunning architectural flowering plant from the high altitude mountains of the Andes. Unlike many other bromeliad species and cultivars it does not produce basal shoots from which you can propagate from. You can only grow Puya Raimondii from seed.

Before you start make sure that all equipment used is sterilized beforehand as Puya Raimondii seedlings are prone to damping off.

Puya Raimondii seeds
As you would expect from the rocky grasslands of its natural habitat, Puya Raimondii will be best sown in a nutrient poor, free-draining compost such as a shop-bought cactus mix. Should you wish to make your own compost then produce a mix of 1 part John Innes 'No 1' and 1 part perlite.  Using 7-9cm terracotta pots, fill to within a couple of centimetres from the top and gently water. Sowing at a rate of one seed per pot, place the seed on the compost, not in the compost, and gently press into the soil. Do not bury the seeds as Puya Raimondii seeds require the presence of light to help initiate germination. Provide a very thin layer of vermiculite, or horticultural grade grit over the seeds. Water the top layer lightly using a watering can with a fine rose .

Place the pots inside a heated propagator at a temperature range of between 19-23°C. Site the propagator in a bright position but one which does not receive direct sunlight as this can cause temperature spikes and the compost to dry out. Alternatively provide artificial light.

Puya Raimondii seedlings
The germination of Puya Raimondii seeds will be irregular and once the first seedlings start to emerge (usually 5-6 weeks) you may have to wait to wait a further 10-12 weeks before all viable seeds have germinated. Keep the compost moist but never waterlogged. Be aware that Puya Raimondii seed can be prone to damping off, so while it is necessary to ensure that the surface soil does not dry out at this point, good to excellent ventilation is likely to be needed.

As each seed germinates label the pot with the date. About 3 weeks after germination, remove the pot from the heated propagator but keep in a mild, protected environment out of direct sun. Allow the surface soil dry out between watering.

Young Puya Raimondii plants
After 8 weeks you can begin to harden them off, but take your time over this. Begin with just a couple of hours of morning sun then light shade the rest of the day. As each week goes by allow another hour of sun each day. Feed with a liquid fertiliser once every week or so using only 50% of the recommended dose.

When repotting, do so as gently as possible and disturb the root system as little as you can. Allow the plants to settle for a few days before watering. Going forward, reduce watering but do not allow the roots to dry out fully. Protect from hard frosts for the first couple of years by overwintering then in an unheated but frost-free, bright, protected environment. An unheated greenhouse would be ideal.

When ready to plant out into their final position, provide full sun in a moist, well-drained stony soil away from the competition of other plants. Water during periods of extended drought and apply a recommended dose of liquid soluble fertiliser very week or so during the growing season.

For related articles click onto the following links:
BUY PUYA RAIMONDII SEED
HOW TO GROW THE BRAIN CACTUS
HOW TO GROW MAMMILLARIA FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII - Queen Of The Andes
THE BRAIN CACTUS - Mammillaria elongata 'Cristata'

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