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Looking a bit like impatience flowers but with elegant trumpet necks, achimenes are fast to flower, easy to grow, happy-with-not-so-much-light sweeties. Blooming in oodles of bright colors from June through early autumn, these plants earn a place on everyone's gotta-have list.
Achimenes are native to Mexico and Central to South America, love humidity and 80 degree days, and are equally happy indoors with 70 temperatures.
Achemines prefer bright shade. They do well in sites with a few hours of early morning sun but burn in sunny locations. Hanging baskets on porch edges and pots on shady patios are ideal. Achemines also thrive indoors on windowsills with good indirect light and can even flower inside where only florescent lights offer bright illumination.
Achemines are usually planted in containers, allowing you to choose your soil rather than amend an existing planting area. Choose a commercial planting mix, making sure that it is one designed to drain well.
Plant anytime in the spring. Achimenes are seasonally active plants; they sprout in the spring, flower summer through fall and sleep through the winter.
Plant outdoors when frost danger has past and nighttime lows are at least in the 60s. Achemines are tender and need to avoid freezes. (The one exception to this is Achimene Harry Williams, a tough variety that can manage light freezing temperatures when dormant.)
Plant your rhizomes on their sides, about an inch deep. Cover and water to settle the soil. Water lightly until sprouts dovelop; then provide more moisture as the plants grow. The goal is to keep the soil slightly moist.
Achimene rhizomes are often slow to break dormancy and start growing. March and April planted tubers typically develop visible sprouts by May. Plant the tubers, keep the soil very lightly moist and go on about your business. The sprouts will appear but on their own leisurely timeline.
Achimenes prefer soil that’s slightly moist but not wet. In their native lands, autumn weather brings lighter rains. Too little moisture (or, oops, forgetting to water at all) can fool achimenes into thinking winter is around the corner and signal the plants to slip into dormancy. "Slightly moist" is the goal for the soil.
To encourage branching, pinch off top shoots when the plants have 3 pairs of leaves. If you're growing in a hanging basket, don't pinch and allow to cascade.
For nutrients, water with half strength, "flowering plant" liquid fertilizer every few weeks if slow release fertilizer was not added to the soil at planting time. This helps encourage high levels of flower production.
As winter approaches, daylight shortens and you'll want to encourage your achemines to slip into dormancy. When the foliage begins to yellow, ease back on watering, eventualy stopping entirely. Take the pot of achimenes and store for the winter; anyplace with temperatures that range from 50-70 and is dry, will work. Breezeways, basements, warm garages and even the back of a closet will do. No light is needed because the plants are sleeping.
In spring, bring your potted achimenes out of their dark storage site, snip off any dead foliage from the prior season and water. Bright indirect light and moisture will prompt your achimenes to wake up and start growing again.
If you choose, in spring you can dig up the prior season plants. You'll find rhizomes clinging to the roots. Pull these off and replant. These new rhizomes will expand your achimene collection - feel free to share with friends.
Light: Bright shade or dappled shade
Soil: Fertile and well drained
Depth: Cover rhizomes with 1" soil
Water: Moist, but not wet, soil
Uses: Pots, planters, hanging baskets & windowboxes
Tips: Indoor sites with high humidity are ideal, like kichen and bathroom windows
They Start Out looking Like This:
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