Achimenes is a rhizomatous plant native to central-southern America. It has thin, semi-woody, flexible stems, light green in color, very branched, which bear numerous large leaves, thin, wrinkled and rough, light green, dark green or with shades of bronze, depending on the species; throughout the spring, until September-October, it produces innumerable tubular flowers, of various colors, from white to purple, from pink to blue, from yellow to red.
The flexible stems make the plants very suitable for hanging baskets, so as to better enjoy the abundant flowering. There are some new cold-resistant hybrids that can be placed in the garden. They are evergreen plants but they require a period of vegetative rest in the winter season.
To have healthy and luxuriant plants it is good to place in a very bright place, but not directly exposed to the sun's rays; these plants fear the cold, and in autumn they go into vegetative rest; the rhizomes should be stored at temperatures close to 15-18 ° C, in pots, or in fabric bags filled with wood sawdust, so as to absorb moisture.
The ideal temperature for the cultivation of Achimenes plants, during the vegetative period, should not exceed 26/28 ° C.
From March to October water the Achimenes regularly, avoiding letting the soil dry excessively but without causing the presence of water stagnations that could lead to radical rot; during the rest period, it is good to cut the stems at the base and the rhizomes must be kept almost dry.
When supplying water it is good to check not to wet the leaves and flowers, which could easily be damaged.
During flowering, add fertilizer for flowering plants every 7-8 days to the irrigating water, in half the dose recommended for other flowering plants.
For the correct cultivation of these plants, it is useful to place them in a soft and well-drained soil, very rich in humus; the rhizomes are repotted every year in new soil, enriched with humus or with a little mature manure.
Check that the soil allows proper water drainage, so that there is no danger of water stagnation.
In spring it is possible to remove the small tubercles from the rhizomes, which should be placed in rich and well-drained loam, in a tempered greenhouse; they can be placed either individually or together. In summer it is possible to practice cuttings; in spring it is possible to sow small dark seeds; these should be placed in a container with sand and peat in equal parts. The container with the seeds must be kept in a protected and sheltered place with a temperature not lower than 20 ° C.
Achimenes: Pests and diseases
Mites and aphids can ruin the leaves and flowers. To counteract the problem it is possible to resort to natural methods with garlic-based or nettle-based maceration, to be sprayed on the plant. Another problem that can affect this type of plant is the formation of root rot due to an excess of watering.