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    How to Plant and Care For Puya Alpestris (Sapphire Tower)

    Sapphire Tower plant or Puya Alpestris is a unique, turquoise blooming flower that's ethereal and out of this world! In this guide, we'll show you how to grow and care for one of your own.
    blog post authorVera Kutsenko
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    Puya alpestris sapphire plant with a bird.

    Roses are red.
    Violets are blue.
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    The Puya Alpestris is a Bromeliad native to the Andes in Chile in South America. The shiny blue bloom, pink flower spikes, and bright orange anthers, this plant makes quite the statement in a landscape. 
    A member of the Bromeliaceae family, the Chilean Puya is an easy to care for plant with a stunning presentation. The perennial, flowering plant blooms in the spring and becomes dormant in the winter, so it is important to understand how to care for it in each season.
    This plant care guide provides everything you need to know about this beautiful plant including germination, care, and overwintering. 

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    About Puya Alpestris | Sapphire Tower Plant

    The Puya Alpestris is often described as “alien” and “other-wordly”. Also known as the Sapphire Tower, this species of Puya boasts an inflorescence of metallic turquoise flowers made up of 3 triangular petals. In the center of each bloom, pop gorgeous orange stamens in perfect contrast with the blue. The blooms burst from a 4 foot tall stalk and are accompanied with long sterile branches of pink rosette bracts.
    The Sapphire Tower is a hardy succulent that is drought tolerant. It is also deer-resistant with an evergreen mound of sharp leaves surrounding the tall stalks. 
    At one point, it was common for the Sapphire Tower to be scientifically called Puya Berteroniana, however, researchers clarified in 2013, that the Berteroniana and Alpestris are two different species.

    Uses for Puya Alpestris Plants

    Puya Alpestris is mainly an outdoor plant used in landscaping and outdoor pots. They make excellent pollinator attractions, provide evergreen ground cover, and are beautiful in bloom. 
    The Sapphire Tower attracts pollinators including hummingbirds, which is always a fun bonus. As potted plants, the leafy mound paired with the tall stalk, blue blooms, and long pink bract branches make it look like you have an entire flower arrangement from a single plant.

    Puya Alpestris Care Guide

    Puya Alpestris, Pourretia Alpestris, Puya x berteroniana
    Sapphire Tower Plant
    Bromeliaceae
    Easy
    Annual
    Slow
    Spring
    3-4’ tall
    Slow release, high quality
    Partial sun
    1x/week in the summer, and 1x/month in the winter
    Low
    Gritty, rocky, well-draining
    Mildly acidic to neutral
    Germinate from seed
    Hardy down to 20℉
    West
    Spring
    Ornamental grasses
    Toxic to pets
    Botanical Name
    Common Name
    Family
    Difficulty
    Plant Type
    Growth Rate
    Bloom Time
    Mature Size
    Fertilizer
    Sun Exposure
    Water
    Humidity
    Soil Type
    Soil Ph
    Propagate
    Temperature (Ideal)
    Window Locations (Ideal)
    USDA Hardiness Zones
    Planting Times
    Companion Plants
    Toxicity
    Where to Buy

    How to Grow Puya Alpestris

    Puya alpestris in cultivation
    Image Source:Photo by DMVPhotography on Getty ImagesPuya alpestris in cultivation
    A Puya Alpestris is easy to grow in the right conditions. Because it is succulent, it will do best outdoors in a warm, dry climate much like a cactus. And also like a cactus, the leaves on the bottom mound are barbed, so be careful!
    It loves partial to full sun in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. It is drought tolerant, deer-resistant, and pollinator attractive! 
    For best results, the Puya Alpestris should be cultivated in a warm, dry environment with lots of light and well-draining soil. 

    When & How To Plant Puya Alpestris

    When purchasing a Sapphire Tower plant from a vendor, it’s important to know when, where, and how to plant it in your landscaping or pot arrangement for best display as they mature. It may be tempting to plant several of them close together to create a metallic turquoise forest. 
    A single plant can grow to be 3 feet across at the bottom and 4 feet tall. Placing more than one of these in a pot or squeezing them too close together in your landscaping will result in unhappy plants. So these plants do best when spaced at least 2 feet apart. 
    Planting in the early spring as it is waking up from dormancy will be the best time to transplant into the ground. A young plant may not bloom for several years. It can take 7-8 years for seedlings to mature enough to begin to bloom.

    Growing them from seed

    It’s possible to purchase Puya Alpestris seeds and grow them that way. 
    1. Prep a seed tray with gritty, well-draining soil and sprinkle the seeds across the surface. 
    2. Keep in a warm ( approximately 70℉) spot with low light.
    3. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
    4. Not all of the seeds will take, but over the next several weeks you will begin to see seedlings.
    5. Once you notice the seedlings, move the seed tray to a warm spot with bright indirect light. 
    6. Transplant the seedlings to desired pots or landscape locations once they form into a rosette. 

    How to Care For Puya Alpestris

    Flowers of the Yellow Chagual or Yellow Puya (Puya alpestris), one of the worlds largest bromeliad plants
    Image Source:Photo by Dr John A Horsfall on getty ImagesFlowers of the Yellow Chagual or Yellow Puya (Puya alpestris), one of the worlds largest bromeliad plants
    Your Sapphire Tower loves bright light and infrequent watering. A succulent, it prefers low humidity and warm climates. It will also need patience from you as it can take years for the plant to bloom. 
    In this guide, we’ll give you all of the specifics that you need to take care of your Sapphire Tower so that you can enjoy its iconic bloom as it reaches maturity. 

    💧 Water

    The Puya Alpestris is a succulent plant and does not require frequent watering. During the summer when it is growing and blooming, it may require water once per week. However, when it is dormant in the fall and winter, it will only need water once per month. 
    Well-draining soil will protect the plant from overwatering when planted in the ground. If your plant is in a pot, be sure to water when the top several inches of the pot are dry during the summer months. The pot should have a drainage hole to remove excess water in order to avoid root rot. 

    ☀️ Sunlight

    The Sapphire Tower can tolerate direct sunlight, but prefers partial sun. Protection for the midday sun is great if possible.
     Otherwise, it loves morning and afternoon light so on the west or south side of a house or under a bright portico are great places to plant them. 

    🌡️ Temperature and Humidity

    The Puya Alpestris is from the Chilean Andres and likes dry hills. USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11 are the best environment for planting these outdoors. Drier climates are more ideal as well. 

    Overwintering Puya Alpestris

    Like other Bromeliads, the Puya Alpestris goes dormant in the winter. So the stalk and blooms will die off. However, the ornamental grass-like bottom of the plant remains evergreen no matter the season. This makes it a great plant in landscaping because you aren’t left with a gaping hole of mulch during the cold months. 

    🌱 Best Soil for Puya Alpestris

    The best soil of the Sapphire Tower is well-draining, rocky, and/or sandy soil. A succulent/cactus soil is a good start. But you can also add perlite, mulch, pebbles, and sand to reach a happy medium for you Puya. 
    If you are keeping your Puya in a pot, ensure it has a large drainage hole to avoid excess water sitting on the roots and causing root rot. 

    🌻 Fertilizer

    Cheaper fertilizers will often have heavy salt in them that can damage this plant, so invest your fertilizer wisely for this one. Using a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the early spring, early summer, and late summer will promote healthy growth and maturity in your plant. You do not need to fertilize in the winter months when it is dormant. 

    😎 Pruning and Maintenance

    The Sapphire Tower does not require significant maintenance. The stalk will die at the end of the summer and you can cut off the dead pieces for a more polished look. The evergreen leafy portion of the plant does not require pruning, but you may want to clean it up periodically by removing dying leaves. 
    Visit Neverland plant care center today for more tips and useful resources. Plants bring a lot of joy, so we strive to help you have the best plant growing experience possible!

    FAQs on Puya Alpestris


    How often does Sapphire Tower bloom?
    The Sapphire blooms once per year but can be in bloom from late spring until early summer. Only mature plants produce blooms. It can take up to 8 years for a plant to reach maturity and begin blooming the iconic Sapphire Tower. It’s worth the wait though!
    How long does it take for Puya Alpestris to bloom?
    The Sapphire Tower will test your patience. From seed to maturity can take up to 8 years. Only mature plants produce blooms.

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