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Products > Puya alpestris
Puya alpestris - Sapphire Tower

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Bromeliaceae (Bromeliads)
Origin: Chile (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Turquoise
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Puya whytea]
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Puya alpestris (Sapphire Tower) - This plant forms a 2-3 foot tall clump to rosettes of recurving, spiny-margined, light green leaves that are silver-gray beneath. The leaves about 1 inch wide at their base and narrowing along the 18-24 inches in length. In spring, but often not every year, appear turquoise blue-green flowers (sometimes called metallic or "unearthly") with vivid orange stamen anthers held on branched 3 to 4 foot tall stalks. Each branch of the inflorescence terminates in a long sterile branch that acts as a perch for nectar feeding birds - flowers are also very attractive to bees as the nectar is sweet. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil where it is drought tolerant but it can also be irrigated more regularly. Hardy to temperatures as low as 18 F for short durations - our garden plant undamaged at the temperature in our historic December 1990 freeze and also weathered the cold spell in 2007 with 3 nights to 25 F. It is native to high barren slopes in the Andes of southern Chile and Argentina. The name for the genus come from the Chilean name used for the species Puya chilensis and the specific name 'alpestris' is the Latin word for alpine, in reference to where this plant is native to in the Chilean Andes. It is sometimes confused with the larger Puya berteroniana which has much longer (to 4-5 feet) and wider (to 2-3 inches) leaves and flowers that are a kelly green color.  The information on this page is based on the research that we have conducted about this plant in the San Marcos Growers library, from what we have found on reliable online sources, as well as from observations made of our crops of this plant growing in the nursery and of plants growing in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we may have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Puya alpestris.