Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Puya, Sapphire Tower
Puya alpestris

Family: Bromeliaceae (bro-mee-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Puya (POO-yuh) (Info)
Species: alpestris (al-PES-triss) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

21 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Cactus and Succulents

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is monocarpic

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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5 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive peejay12 On Aug 3, 2013, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

In my garden this plant has survived some of the worst weather Cornwall has ever experienced: three very wet winters with very severe frosts (down to -7C) and some of the wettest, dullest summers on record.

But my two plants have thrived and slowly grown to clusters of seven or eight rosettes. The silvery green leaves are two feet long and each plant is about seven feet wide. A few leaves are brown at the tips, but it's almost unnoticeable.

This seems to be the best species to grow unless you have a huge garden.They have grown very slowly (they are eight years old) and they have not flowered, but I'm not bothered as I don't want any of the rosettes to die. For me, this is a foliage plant only.

Mine are growing tight against garden walls in nothing but sand and gravel with a tiny amount of soil -- which is probably why they survived such bad weather.

Positive CaronF On Jul 25, 2013, CaronF from Penzance
United Kingdom wrote:

Puya alpestris now bursting into bloom for the first time in Morrab Gardens, Penzance, Cornwall, England - a sub-tropical garden open to the public. A quite spectacular flower, attracting much admiration and amazement.
25th July 2013.
Come and see it!

Neutral Sunajau On Feb 11, 2013, Sunajau from Near Kaitaia, Northland
New Zealand wrote:

I Have a puya since 10 years in new Zealand. It is growing huge but has only once flowered.
It is relative dry but get bigger and bigger.
What do I wrong?
I would be very thankfull if somebody can give me an advice.

Positive Andrearichter On Feb 11, 2013, Andrearichter from Cowes
United Kingdom wrote:

Love this plant, the colours of the flowers are like nothing else.
Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom currently have a growing collection and are currently working with Royal Botanic Garden, Kew to register a national collection of Puya.
They love the Puya so much at Ventnor that they have incorporated the flower shape into their logo.

Positive insipidtoast On Oct 21, 2011, insipidtoast from Santa Barbara, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The copious amount of nectar produced by the flowers is edible and sweet.

Positive Dave_in_Devon On Jul 16, 2004, Dave_in_Devon from Torquay
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

Although this is an extremely vicious plant and not recommended for planting close to paths or where anyone is likely to brush past, the flowers are incredible. Nearly 3" long, very heavily waxy and the most unbelievable shade of dark turquoise, they force you to stop and admire them. I rather like the way that the tips of the branching flower spikes are barren and provide perches for pollinating birds in search of nectar within the flowers.

In the UK, a small 8" high, well rooted offset takes about 6 years to reach flowering size. It appears reasonably hardy, but does resent heavy winter rainfall and the leaves can develop pale spotting by the end of winter. The stout flower spikes reach to nearly 5 feet and take about 7 weeks from first appearance to first flowers opening. Flowering in the UK can take place at any time from end of May onwards, although I have know one plant to be in full flower by mid April. My own is just flowering for the first time and although the main rosette will die, plenty of large offsets that have been produced over the past 18 months indicate that from now on, it should flower every year.

Neutral palmbob On Jan 31, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This makes a good silver accent to any warm garden- is OK for xeriscape as well as moister So Cal gardens. But it is very sharp and should only be trimmed/pruned with gloves on (the sharp spines along the curved leaf edges face toward the center of the plant, and once you get hooked, you can only go further to the center to get unhooked, and often get hooked again even closer- watch out!). It can form huge, impenetrable thickets. A Chilean native. Like many Puyas, this plant has beautiful, large exotic looking flowers that just don't seem to go along with the rest of the plant. THis species has upright, compound flowers that look almost like exotic pineapples on stems, with the most unreal color of turquoise-green flowers in them. These unfortunately occur only briefly in April.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Clayton, California
Fairfield, California
Mckinleyville, California
Palm Springs, California
San Diego, California
San Jose, California
San Marino, California
Santa Barbara, California
Upland, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Miami, Florida
Portland, Oregon

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