Sparse, architecturally interesting branches laced with sharp, triangular needles makes monkey puzzle tree one of the more odd but entertaining trees for mild temperate zone landscapes. A tall evergreen tree native to the slopes of the Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina, it has dark grayish brown bark and produces cones. It is pleasingly pyramid-shaped when young, looking like an artificial Christmas tree without the wiry needles yet extended. With time, its shape become tall with a rounded upper canopy, and lowest branches aborting and dropping.
The leaves are small, oval but triangular at their sharp, pointy tips and arranged densely and spirally all along its branches. When young they are brighter green and then mature to a glossy dark green. Here lies the dilemma: how could a monkey possibly grab onto branches and navigate through such a tree?
The tree "blooms" in spring by forming male and female cones occurring on different branches on the same plant. The cylindrical male cones appear in cones that are green and pendent, are will age to orange-brown in clusters at branch tips. Nearby green female cones are oval and ripen over two to three years to a nice brown hue, also on branch tips. When the tree is mature, female cones are as large as grapefruits. The seeds are edible.
Grow monkey puzzle tree in full to partial sun locales in a well-draining soil that has average fertility. Moist, acidic or neutral soils are best. This is considered the most cold hardy of the Araucaria, and is often seen grown in large containers in many areas until its size prevents such a display. Otherwise, give it a spacious spot in a location that can be seen by passers-by, but not in a way that they can so easily and painfully walk into or grab the spiny-leaved branches. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Araucaria
Species - Araucana
Common name - Monkey Puzzle Tree
Pre-Treatment - Not-required, but recommended
Hardiness zones - 7 - 11
Height - 50-80' / 15 - 24 m
Plant type - Tree
Vegetation type - Needled or Scaled Evergreen
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun
Growth rate - Slow
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil type - Clay, Loam, Sand, well drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Container, Feature Plant
Bloom season - Spring
Leaf / Flower color - Dark Green / Green
1. Fill a plastic bucket about halfway with very warm water.
2. Pour your monkey puzzle seeds into the water. Let them soak for about 48 hours. Keep water warm all the time. Discard the seeds that still float and repeat the process.
3. Put some rich potting soil into a seed tray. Fill the entire tray and do not pack down the soil. This ensures that the monkey puzzle seeds can push their roots into the soil.
4. Push each seed halfway into the soil so that you can still see the top of each seed. Plant each seed in its own well in the seed tray.
5. Water until the soil is moist but not soaked; soaking will drown the seeds. Wait for the soil to feel dry to the touch before you water again.
6. Place the seed tray in a warm, sunny area. The tray should get direct sunlight for about three hours each day. Give them bright indirect light for the rest of the day.
Transplant the seedlings when they reach about 10 cm (3-4") in height. Fill a pot for each plant up to about 5 cm (2") below the rim with the same type of soil you used in the seed tray. Dig a hole in each pot about 2.5 cm (1") deeper and three times as wide as the seedlings root balls.
8. Untangle the roots of each seedling gently after removing it from the tray. Place each seedling in its own hole and cover the roots with soil. Press the soil down very lightly.
9. Water until the soil is moist but not soaked, and place your monkey puzzle seedlings in a sunny area no cooler than +15C (60F).
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