|How to grow Puya raimondii - Queen of the Andes|
Commonly known as the 'Queen of the Andes', and for good reason too, Puya Raimondii is not only an impressive architectural plant, it is the world's largest bromeliad! Native to Bolivia and Peru, it is a high altitude specimen, restricted to the high Andes and found at an elevation of between 3000 – 4800 metres. In its regular state Puya Raimondii can reach a height of approximately 3 metres. However, when it is mature enough to produce its magnificent flower spike this can rocket up to between 9–10 metres!
|Puya Raimondii leaves|
Despite the characteristically cold temperatures and rocky, friable mountain soils, Puya Raimondii has proven capable of thriving in a variety of conditions such as low altitude, high humidity, and much higher temperatures. Puya Raimondii will not tolerate soils without excellent drainage or close competition with other plants.
|Puya raimondii flowers|
To survive the nutrient poor soils, Puya Raimondii has evolved a rather grisly method of obtaining precious nutrients. The rosette of stiff, slender leaves are lined with sharp hook-like spines which are known to trap native birds. They have even been recorded ensnaring sheep and other large animals. Trapped and unable to escape they slowly starve to death, then decay at the base of the plant providing fertiliser for the plant.
When grown as an ornamental plants, plant in full sun, in a stony/rocky free-draining soil. Rather than sheep or birds, feed with a high nitrogen, liquid soluble fertiliser.
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