Puya chilensis Molina
Sheep-eating Plant, Chilean Puya
Pitcairnia chilensis, Pitcairnia coarctata, Pourretia coarctata, Puya coarctata, Puya gigantea, Puya quillotana, Puya suberosa
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. Flowers are green or yellow and borne on spikes that resemble a medieval mace and stand up to 6.6 feet (2 m) high. Spreading by offsets, this plant can colonize large areas over time. However, the growth is slow, and it 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.
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 at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Use 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. Blue Puya makes a great patio specimen until the cold temperatures appear.
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 diluted succulent food or indoor plant food in spring. Remove spent foliage from the rosettes for the best appearance.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Blue Puya.
This species is native to the arid hillsides of Chile.
- Back to genus Puya
- Plantpedia: Browse flowering plants by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, or Origin
Click on a photo to see a larger version.