Puya chilensis (Sheep-eating Plant)

Scientific Name

Puya chilensis Molina

Common Names

Sheep-eating Plant, Chilean Puya


Pitcairnia chilensis, Pitcairnia coarctata, Pourretia coarctata, Puya coarctata, Puya gigantea, Puya quillotana, Puya suberosa

Scientific Classification

Family: Bromeliaceae
Subfamily: Pitcairnioideae
Genus: Puya


Color: Green or yellow
Bloom Time: Late winter to early spring. The plant may take 20 years or more to flower


Puya chilensis is an evergreen perennial with large, dense rosettes of grey-green, strap-like leaves edged with hooked spines. The green or yellow flowers are borne on spikes that resemble a medieval mace and stand up to 6.6 feet (2 m) high. Spreading by offsets, it can colonize large areas over time. Growth is slow, and plants may take 20 years or more to flower. The outer two-thirds of the leaf blade bears outward-pointing spines, which may be an adaptation to prevent herbivores from reaching the center of the plant.

Puya chilensis - Sheep-eating Plant
Photo via triplancar.com


USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

You can get Blue Puya seed and start the plants yourself in a greenhouse. Puyas are slow to germinate and require temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Use a well-drained potting soil in a seed flat. Keep the seeds moderately moist until they sprout. Once you see seedlings, move the flat to a brightly lit area with protection from the harsh light of midday.

Transplant the seedlings when they have formed a rosette. Plants can tolerate a crowded pot. In USDA zones 8 to 11, you can transplant rosettes to the garden, but in other zones, they will have to be moved indoors in winter. Up until the cold temperatures appear, Blue Puya makes a great patio specimen.

Water Puya plants in the ground once per week in summer. Potted plants should be watered when the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. Water the plant only once per month in winter when the plant is dormant. Fertilize with a diluted succulent food or indoor plant food in spring. Remove spent foliage from the rosettes for best appearance. See more at How to Grow and Care for Blue Puya.


Native to the arid hillsides of Chile.


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