Chad Cox

Jane McGary
Sun, 25 Dec 2016 12:54:57 PST
Nice to see PBS posts arriving again; the list host cut me off for a 
couple of weeks.

I've grown a couple of Puya species (and flowered one of them, as I 
recall in about 8 years) and have admired a number of others in South 
America. I don't grow them any more because (1) they are not hardy 
outdoors here in Portland, Oregon; (2) if grown in a container, it would 
eventually have to be far larger than I could move (in particular, P. 
raimondii gets gigantic); and (3) they have vicious hooked barbs on the 
leaf margins and you don't want to get too close to them. When I moved 
my potted ones outdoors for the summer, I had to wrap a tarp around the 
plant to avoid the fishhooks.

The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden suffers frost rarely, and then it 
usually isn't severe (barring what happened in 1990/1991, when plants 
all over the Pacific Coast froze to death).  More important, you can't 
translate elevations in the Andes directly to North American USDA 
"hardiness zones." At more temperate latitudes, the plants are likely to 
spend their winters snug under the snow, and as you get nearer the 
Equator, temperatures even at what seems (especially to a resident of 
the Atlantic coast) as very high elevation are relatively moderate, 
perhaps freezing at night and thawing in the daytime.

So my opinion is, don't try them outdoors in Boston! And if you want one 
in your greenhouse, look for a smaller species, such as P. venusta 
(which has beautiful glaucous foliage and purple flowers). In my 
experience the seeds germinate readily.

Jane McGary

Portland, Oregon, USA

On 12/25/2016 8:19 AM, Paul LICHT wrote:
> Chad
> The UC Botancal Garden in Berkeley has a large collection of Puya species,
> alll growing outside for several decades. They bloom regularly. The most
> unusual and largest is Puya raimondii from Peru/Bolivia. Said to bloom only
> after 75-100 yrs in nature, several years ago, we had a bloom in a 26 yr
> old (planted as seed in the Garden). Many Puya come from mountainous areas.
> The P. raimondii typically occurs from 10-14,000 ft in the Andes and might
> well live n Mass.
> Paul
> On Sun, Dec 25, 2016 at 4:49 AM, Jane Sargent <> wrote:
>> You grow puya! I saw some in Venezuela once. Rumor has it that they have a
>> tendency to autocombust, and that some kinds take 150 years to flower. Some
>> have turquoise flowers. Does anybody know what zones they will live in? I´d
>> love to grow them in Massachusetts for the next 150 years or so.
>> Jane Sargent
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