Puya harmsii is endemic to northwest Argentina where it grows in the arid slopes of the Andes at elevations of 2000-3000 metres above sea level in the provinces of Salta, Catamarca and Tucumán. Puya harmsii is a stunning terrestrial Bromeliad and forms a highly ornamental rosette growing over 1m in height. Its long indented leaves are a startling frosted white in colour, an adaptation to reflect the intense solar radiation of its high altitude habitat. When mature, it sends up a tall pinkish-purple inflorescence that grows up to 2m in height bearing a panicle of velvety pinkish-purple bracts with velvety coal-black petals tinged with blue.
First described by Dr. Alberto Castellanos, (1896-1968), the Argentinian botanist, in 1933 and named after the German botanist Hermann August Theodor Harms, Puya harmsii belongs to the Puyopsis subgenus within the Puya genus.
In cultivation it enjoys full sun and is remarkably drought tolerant surviving with very little water. It should have a very free-draining substrate to which lots of shingle, sharp sand and perlite has been added. Although very cold-tolerant and surviving extended periods of sub-zero temperatures, during the winter it is best to protect it with a rain-sheet after wrapping it with several layers of heavy grade 30 gram horticultural fleece.
|Synonyms||Puya spathacea var. harmsii|
|Geographical Origin||Northwest Argentina: Salta, Catamarca and Tucumán Provinces at elevations of 2000-3000m|
|Cultivation||Full sun, perfect drainage, sheltered position|
|Eventual Height||1m foliage and 2m inflorescence|
|Hardiness||Frost hardy down to about -5C. Needs protection from rain and cold in winter. As well as having excellent drainage it should be protected with a rainsheet and several layers of 30gm fleece|
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