Achimenes Planting Guide

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.

Planting Information

Choosing a Site

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. Small tan speckles or patches on the foliage are usually indications that the plants are getting too much direct sunlight.

Soil Prep

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. 

When to Plant

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 during winter dormancey, once established.)

How to Plant Achimene Rhizomes

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 3.5 to 7 weeks to sprout.

During the Growing Season

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.

At Season’s End

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.

Insider Tips

  1. Achimenes are related to African violets. Like their relatives, achimenes leaves can spot if cold water is left on them. Watering with a can that has a narrow spout allows one to tuck under the leaves to reach the soil. Or, place a saucer under your pot and add a little water to the saucer. 
  2. Plant achimenes rhizomes 2 to 3 inches apart in containers, hanging baskets (choose trailing varieties) or mixed planters. One pack of bulbs plants two 6" wide pots.
  3. Keep the soil in your achimenes pots lightly moist. Allowing the soil to become bone dry can nudge the plants into premature dormancy. 
  4. We've had great results with outdoor plantings that are in sheltered sites: baskets hanging from eves or along the edges of covered porches, pots decorating east- or north-facing entryways, and porches that receive indirect or early morning light.
  5. For the best looking displays, and for good plant hygiene, remove and discard spent flowers.
  6. Achimene bulbs vary dramatically by cultivar; pink, brown or tan and 1/4" to almost 1" long in ropey or pinecone shapes. All are odd looking.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Bright shade or dappled shade

Soil: Fertile and well drained

Depth: Cover rhizomes with 1" soil

Water: Lightly moist, but not wet, soil

Uses: Pots, planters, hanging baskets & windowboxes

Tips: Indoor sites with high humidity are ideal, like kitchen and bathroom windows

Guide: Achimenes Planting Guide

They Start Out looking Like This: