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Anyone Have Luck Growing Bromeliad Puya Berteroniana?

westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
March 22, 2019
last modified: March 22, 2019

I have had luck growing Puya Alpestris but the larger related plant Puya Berteroniana I cannot get to grow. I have tried growing this in both containers of gritty mix, and separately in containers of desert soil made from peat, turface, and stone. The gritty mix is an outright fail. The plant dies back about 1/4 of an inch each month and never takes hold after even 18 months. The peat mix is less of a disaster, but the plant is dying back there about 1/8th of inch each month. Perhaps the peat mix is too acidic and I probably need to target a pH of 6.5.

I am in zone 9a and Puya Berteroniana should grow to zone 8. I have tried watering once a week and once every two weeks in Summer and it is clear that letting the pot dry out really stresses the plant, but no amount of water seems to change the outcome.

Does anyone have luck growing this plant and what kind of soil were you using?

The first attached photo is not my plant, but it gives you some idea how amazing this plant can be and why I am chasing it. The second photo is the current state of my (very pathetic :) ) plant in a container of gritty mix.




Comments (9)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    what a unique flower color.. thx for pointing out this plant.. so i could do a little research on it.. who knew ....


    lets start easy .. i presume there is a drainage hole in the pot?


    ken

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    For the average person and garden, Puya Alpestris is the better plant to raise. Berteroniana is a huge plant, probably better on a hillside. Alpestris only gets to about three feet wide and the flowers grow about three to four feet high. The flower display is similar. Photo attached.

    Yes, I have drainage holes :) If I am going to the trouble to create a well drained and structured soil, then be sure I make sure the container has drainage holes, covered by a large particle screen.

    The current state of my own Puya Alpestris are in the second photo.



  • Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)

    They grow them at the Huntington on large mounds above grade amended with a lot of scoria. They happen to be in bloom right now too, from last week.


    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)
  • Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)

    I have Puya ferruginea on a sandy slope in the ground and in a dry gritty. They need hardly any water. The ones in the ground are in 6" of sand over bedrock on a southwest facing slope. I water once a month in the summer (15%ET0). I had another one that I took off irrigation and hit it with the hose occasionally, but it's overflowing the pot. So hardly anything actually gets in.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)
  • harold100

    I would try it in another type of unglazed terracotta pot. Then it could dry out faster and oxygen permeate the Terracotta to reach the roots. It is hard to tell but it appears your pot has a coating over it.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked harold100
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @harold100 That's an interesting point. My pot does have a painted surface. How does air normally flow into these pots? Isn't it the plant respiring that sucks air in, and if yes wouldn't they be able to grab O2 from the surface soil?

  • harold100

    I am not a pro at growing such plants, but I remember a knowledgeable person on here warning against using the glazed pots.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked harold100
  • Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)

    Air gets to the roots when you water. The cascading water draws air down into the medium. Unglazed Terra cotta dries out faster necessitating more frequent watering and thus more air exchange.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Nil13 usda:10a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)
  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    Have not had any problem growing P. berteroniana on steep, hot, arid slope. No irrigation. Have not gotten a flower yet, though.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

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