HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII - Queen Of The Andes

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
While on a mission for the Paris Museum, in South America between 1826 and 1833, Puya Raimondii was first discovered and described for western science in 1930 by French naturalist Alcide d'Orbigny (1802–1857). The species name in in honour of the prominent Italian scientist, and popular historical figure in Peru, Antonio Raimondi (1826 –1890). Raimondi immigrated to Peru in 1850 and made no less than 18 extensive journeys to all regions of the country, studying the nation's natural wonders.

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
In the bleak, rocky grasslands of its Andean natural habitat, Puya Raimondii will experience a temperature range from as low as -20ºC to an estimated maximum of between of 8–24ºC. This is in addition to rain, hail or snow fall which usually occurs between October to March. To cope with these harsh environmental changes, Puya Raimondii produces a chemical in its sap that acts as an natural anti-freeze. This allows it to cope the huge temperature variations that can exist between night and day.

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.

For related articles click onto the following links:
BUY PUYA RAIMONDII SEED
HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW PUYA RAIMONDII - Queen Of The Andes
Puya Raimondii - 10 seeds

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