I got a free puya at a plant swap a week ago and have no idea what it needs. I know its a member of the pineapple family but what kind of growing conditions? Anyone growing these that might help. I also read it needs dry conditions, how dry?
I did find the below for you, don't know if that is helpful:
Puya mirabilis is a terrestrial bromeliad native to Argentina and Bolivia. In nature these plant will reach around 6 feet tall, but in containers their size is reduced to about 2 feet tall (60 cm). The grass-like foliage grows from basal rosettes and has many spines along the margins. The spines are not sharp or stiff as in some bromeliads. They will form large clumps if planted in the landscape. They produce offsets freely and clumps can reach up to 8-10 feet (2.4-3 m) wide. Plants are interesting in that they don't resemble most bromeliads. They are easy to culture and are hardy in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: Flowers are produced on 2 foot (60 cm) tall stalks. The chartreuse flowers will reach 4 inches (10 cm) long. Plants produce seed freely and there are always plenty to share.
Culture: Puya mirabilis does best in full sun to light shade with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of loam and sand. During the growing season, they have average water needs and we fertilize them once during this period with a balanced fertilizer. They are moderate growers and should be re-potted every other year for good growth. During the winter months in the greenhouse, we restrict watering to every other week. When new growth starts in the spring, we divide and repot these plants.
Propagation: Puya mirabilis is propagated by division of offsets and from seed. Fresh seed germinates in as little as 14 days from sowing.
The person who gave me this said the flowers were tuquise. Wonder what species it is. I had no idea that got that big! Too bad it isn't hardy here. I will keep it in the house this winter and see what happens.
Newton, I have a Puya growing outside in sandy soil. Not sure which species though. It's about 24" in diameter and has brutal thorns that grow inward. Got myself in a couple predicaments with this!! It has been surprisingly easy to care for. I overhead water about every 7-10 days during the hotter months, never in the winter. It's growing in half day sun, in decomposed granite (course sand) with a clay underlayment. I never fertilize and it has more than quadrupled in size in a year. I think the bird droppings help!
I have a number of Puya Alpestris growing unprotected in pots (zone 9b) using Miracle-Gro moisture control potting soil. They are easy, easy, easy and never show any signs of frost damage or incipient rotting. Mine have shown no tendency whatsoever to grow tall and simply keep putting out new offsets laterally. They are growing vigorously and are not more than a foot or so tall. No turquoise flowers yet, though. In fact, I think mine have grown a bit too vigorously in their pots and I may just plunk them in the ground since they want to attack their neighbors in the pots.
Your Puya alpestris or P. berteroniana should do well in your area. Just treat it like you do your cactus. They love the heat, and although they like it on the dry side they'll take any water you want to give them as long as the soil is fast-draining. At the Garden ours are in the New World Desert and do VERY well. Take a look here:
Hm, interesting but I would have to bring the monster in for the winter. That is not scary now because it is a small pup but if it grows larger it might prove difficult and painful. I would like to see the flowers.