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Author Topic: Got Navia?  (Read 609 times)
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tillydave
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« on: June 05, 2012, 17:30:14 »

Judging by the lack of a single post, I'm guessing Navias are as rare as I thought. "Notoriously difficult to cultivate" seems to be the rule. I recently bought a N. Igneosicola from Tropiflora. It's surviving, so far, but I dearly wonder if anyone's got advice on these. And, has anyone seen the fabulous N. Tentaculata in person? They are found in the Guyana Shield (AKA Lost World) portion of South America, primarily Venezuela near Angel Falls. Wouldn't I just love to take a little stroll there?
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Lisa
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2012, 20:09:16 »

Many of the Navias come from high atop the Venezuelan tepuis, a microclimate that is pretty hard to duplicate in cultivation.

N. igneosicola is more forgiving than most when it comes to temperature.  It will take a tropical climate, but it has a rather odd life cycle for a bromeliad.  It goes dormant, and I don't just mean it stops growing for a while.  All of the leaves turn brown and die back, leaving only a sort of fleshy pseudobulb.  For some reason, this seems to happen in early spring rather than winter, at least where I live.  Then a few months later it will suddenly leaf out again and often bloom almost immediately.  The color in bloom is fantastic, but very short-lived, much like Guz. sanguinea or Ae. biflora, which it rather resembles in coloration (I have to believe there's some sort of parallel evolution going on there, but since they come from different regions, I'm not sure why that would be).

If it doesn't bloom shortly after breaking dormancy, it probably won't do it at all that year, but just continue growing and amassing stem/pseudobulb.  The next year it may bloom, but by that time it will have formed a tall stalk with persistant leaf bases (the old leaves have to be cut back, they don't just peel off easily like some other genera), and can end up looking more like a little palm tree than a flat rosette.  

The most difficult part is propagating it.  After bloom, it will generally produce one or two pups, but I've never been able to get them to root if I remove them before they form the fleshy pseudobulb, and that doesn't generally happen until it's getting ready to go dormant again.  The best thing seems to be to remove them when they're dormant, cut off all the dried leaves and then repot them.  The problem is they don't root well when they're dormant, so you just have to hope they will have enough time in the short interval between breaking dormancy and blooming to put out a few roots, and that they don't rot out in the meantime.

You can grow them from seed too, but I almost threw out my first tray of seedlings when the leaves all dried up (I didn't know about the dormancy period).  The seed pods don't pop open on their own, so I don't know how you can tell when they're ripe, you just have to guess.  

Frankly, I've given up on this one.  They're mealybug magnets, and although the leaves are soft, they have tiny and evil little needle-like spines towards the base.  If I have blooming plants coinciding with one of our plant sales, I can sell every one, no problem, but it's just not worth the headache the rest on the time.    Tongue
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tillydave
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2012, 14:52:58 »

Thanks Lisa!
That was quite informative, and the stuff about the die-back into bulb form is marvelous to know! Mine looks like a foot-high corn stalk, rather than the flatter rosette-form I was expecting. It also has a pup that's about two inches tall. The pot it came in is quite small, I wonder if transplanting is a good idea, or a very bad one? This is certainly a novelty instead of my new life's work, and I'll always favor tillandsias, but these do intrigue me (the fcbs index lists 8 species, but another source I found says there are 96 . . .

Cheers from San Diego,
Dave

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Lisa
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 18:52:49 »

Sounds like your plant may have been overfertilized and/or overcrowded, Dave.  If you got it from Tropiflora, that's not surprising.  I'd put it in a 6" pot, or if it's really overgrown, maybe a 7".  Navias are terrestrial, so benefit from having some root room. 
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tillydave
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 20:43:02 »

I believe I may do that, Lisa, it looks awfully cramped. (took a photo but need to setup a photobucket account, I guess). I'll leave the pup on and see what happens.
Thanks -
Dave
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