Let it sink in. Yes, the flowers are so purple-blue that they're almost black. It's the kind of vision that says..."I must have that!" "I must experience it!" "I must bask in its glamour!" However, to experience such beauty requires that you are prepared to live dangerously. Like any true treasure, a flower such as this is worth risking it all for, don't you think? Especially, when something looks as rich and exquisite as this. Let me introduce you to the enigmatic Puya coerulea var. coerulea.
Puya coerulea var. coerulea is in the bromeliad family of plants and comes to us from Chile. It is a slow growing rosette of silvery sabre-like leaves that are outfitted with formidable hook-like spines. I call them Sabres of Paradise. Rosettes tend to grow 2 -3 feet tall and wide. As they get older, rosettes can form offsets and spread by thick stems. Since this Puya, like many others, is like the great white shark of Bromeliads, if you ever handle one, do it with great care and sturdy, long cuffed gloves. Now don't let their menacing demeanor scare you away, growing one of these fascinating creatures does not go without its rewards. You've got to be willing to tame the beast!
After plants mature, come spring they send up out-of-this-world comets of colorful flower buds. By late spring, flowers trumpet forth from fuzzy buds to reveal their luxuriously lustrous deep purple almost black tones. Contrast that with vibrant orange anthers and you'll surrender to its beauty every time! Now Puya coerulea var. coerulea has its place in a container as a specimen or in a dry garden. It makes an excellent companion in a xeric garden or with cactus. Place it somewhere where you won't worry much about weeding. Remember its foliage has wicked teeth. This particular plant likes full sun conditions, sharp draining, gritty soil, and low water. It's hardy down to around 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.
When it comes to growing a Puya coerulea var. coerulea, I say why not? It's architectural, it's drought tolerant, it's unexpected, and it will produce some of the most astounding floral displays you will ever see. Absolutely awesome!