Achimenes - Cupid's Bow, Hot-Water Plant, Kimono Plant, Magic Flowers, Monkey-Faced Pansy, Nut Orchids, Orchid Pansy, Widow's Tears
DESCRIPTION: This group consists of twenty-six perennials from Central and South America. They are related to the popular African Violets and Gloxinias and belong to the family, Gesneraceae. These plants are mainly grown as summer-flowering houseplants and in greenhouses. Achimenes have numerous common names including Cupid's Bow, Hot-water Plant, Kimono Plant, Magic Flowers, Monkey-faced Pansies, Mother's Tears, Nut Orchids, Orchid Pansy, and Widow's Tears. Achimenes have scaly, rhizomatous roots. The scales overlap somewhat like the cones of a pine tree. Their attractive, fuzzy foliage ranges from bright to dark green, some varieties having bronze undertones. The gorgeous, funnel-shaped flowers, which come in an array of colors including white, yellow, scarlet, salmon, pink, blue, lavender, or purple, resemble pansies or petunias and grow from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. These plants will bloom profusely from late spring to fall and will look spectacular cascading over the side of a hanging basket.
POTTING: These plants need a minimum temperature of 50º F. They prefer night temperatures of 60º to 70º F and daytime temperatures in the mid-70'sº F. They should be grown in light, well-drained, humus-rich potting soil, such as the commercial African Violet mix. Site your plants in bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist and fertilize weekly while in active growth. In early fall, when the flowers fade, reduce watering. This will cause the plants to go dormant and begin forming tubers. These will grow under the soil as well as at nodes along the stems. Once the leaves have fallen, the fragile tubers may be gathered and saved for replanting the next summer. Store them unwatered, in pots or bags of soil, sphagnum moss, or vermiculite in a place where temperatures range from 50º to 70º F. The tubers may be replanted in moist, rich soil the following season when they will begin to sprout in early summer. After a few weeks, the flowers will begin to grow, continuing on until the plants are dried off again in early autumn.
PROPAGATION: The rhizomes can be divided when you repot. Cuttings of young shoots may also be taken in the summer. Seeds can also be sown in a propagating case filled with finely sifted, sandy soil in February, although the plants won't bloom until the following year.
A. grandiflora & var. Atropurpurea;
A. coccinea & var. Major;
A. candida. All these as well as other types have been widely hybridized. There is also a beautiful, double-flowered race of Achimenes known as the Rose Series.
Go see DICTIONARY OF BOTANICAL NAMES.
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