Puya Bromeliad Species, Sapphire Tower Bromeliad

Puya alpestris

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


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Medium Green


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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


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

Bloom Color:


Medium Blue


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

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

This plant is monocarpic

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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(2 reports)

Upland, California

Boca Raton, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Miami, Florida

Portland, Oregon

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Gardeners' Notes:


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... read more


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!


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.


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.


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.


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 open... read more


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.