Achimenes also known as ‘Hot Water Plants’, because it is thought that plunging the entire pot into hot water, (not boiling), promotes flowering. There are many varieties of Achimenes with flower colours ranging from white through to deepest red. Follow the advice and information below to ensure success.
One important thing to realise about the Achimenes that we normally grow as indoor plants, is the fact that they are normally dormant in the winter months! If you try to grow it for winter interest indoors you are doomed to failure.
For success with Achimenes from year to year, you need to allow it - prompt - to have a rest throughout the winter months. Winter dormant season.
The Plant: 'Hot Water' plants have bright, vibrant flowers in midsummer on slender leafy stems.
There is quite a bit of variation in the colour and size of the Achimenes flowers, so choosing the right variety is important if you are after a certain type of flower. They are normally sold as pre-packed or loose dormant tubers or rhizomes. There are specialist suppliers if you want one of the choice varieties, but all the Achimenes available commercially are good colours - reds, blues, whites, pinks and multi coloured types.
Some Achimenes have upright growth habit, but most have fairly prostrate growth habit. (Not tall, but spreads horizontally). The Achimenes is dormant in the winter, so allow to dry off in Autumn and re-start in spring.
Its needs: Draught-free, but strong light, not too much direct sun, and good humidity levels. Free-draining soil compost or a peat-based multi-purpose compost will suite. It must be moisture retentive. Achimenes will require regular watering in growing season, with a little fertilizer fortnightly - liquid based nutrients suit best. It is essential to keep them growing throughout the summer and not neglect. Enjoys warmth and humidity, so under glass, keep the humidity level high by damping down. Do not allow to dry out - except for late autumn - ready for winter dormancy!
After flowering throughout the summer, allow the Achimenes plant to die down in the early autumn. To do this, gradually reduce the watering over the period of a month. Remove all dead and dying growth. Leave them in dry compost, in their pots for the winter months.
In spring, the tubers (thick rubbery roots) can be split up and re-planted into extra pots. The tubers should be planted around 2-3cms (1in) deep in good potting compost. They will normally start to show signs of growth within a couple of weeks. It is not necessary to pour boiling water on them - nor desirable. Just a warm room or heated greenhouse will do the trick.
The young stems provide good softwood cuttings material - but will need a propagator or good heat source.
Pests and problems -
Good for: Achimenes - hot water plants are good for pots or hanging baskets. Good light is essential, but avoid placing on a sunny windowsill, though a lace net curtain will filter the sun enough.
Achimenes Little Beauty - Deep pink and low habit
Achimenes Paul Arnold - Deep powder blue - spreading.
Achimenes Peach Blossom is self explanitory.
Achimenes Purple King is a rich seep velvety purple, and a good vigorous grower.