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Looking a bit like impatience flowers but with elegant trumpet necks, achimenes are 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.
Achimenes 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. Achimenes also thrive indoors on windowsills with good indirect light and can even flower inside where only florescent lights offer bright illumination. Small tan speckles or patches on the foliage are usually indications that the plants are getting too much direct sunlight.
Achimenes 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. Achimenes are tender and need to avoid freezes. (The one exception to this is Achimene Harry Williams, a tougher variety that can manage light freezing temperatures during winter dormancy, once established.)
Plant your rhizomes on their sides, about one inch deep. Cover and water to settle the soil. Water lightly until sprouts develop; 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. In our recent trials, achimene bulbs took 3 to 7 weeks to sprout.
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, pinch for fuller plants. Or don't, your choice. Allow to cascade.
Unless slow release fertilizer was added to the soil at planting time, water with half strength "flowering plant" liquid fertilizer every few weeks. A steady supply of low-dose nutrients encourages more buds and flowers.
Achimene plants sleep through the winter, enjoying a necessary period of dormancy. In mid to late fall, the foliage will begin to yellow, signaling that the plant is ready to wrap up the season's activity. Ease back on watering, eventually stopping entirely.
Take the pot of achimenes and store it 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, not growing.
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 a little 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 off the larger ones and replant. These new rhizomes will expand your achimene collection - feel free to share with friends.
Light: Bright shade or dappled shade; not direct sun
Soil: Fertile and well drained
Depth: Cover rhizomes with 1" soil
Water: Lightly moist, not wet, soil
Uses: Pots, planters, hanging baskets & windowboxes
Tips: Indoor sites with high humidity are ideal, like kitchen and bathroom windows
They Start Out looking Like This:
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