Achimene is an easily grown plant mentioned in few books, magazines or websites on gardening and found growing in few greenhouses, though for richness of colouring it is difficult to equal. It appears to be one of those Victorian glasshouse plants which have passed out of public esteem though like the variegated and scented-geraniums, it may come again with renewed vigour. The tubers should be started into growth in two batches, first mid-March, and a second batch early in May. The grower possessing an unheated house would be advised to wait until mid-April, with a second lot to follow mid-May. This will ensure a succession of bloom from mid-June until late October.
Propagation of Achimene is either by division of the tubers at planting-time in the same way as for mixture of sand and moist peat. The plants enjoy a moist atmosphere, a temperature of around 60 F., and as soon as they have commenced to make they are copious drinkers and must never suffer from lack of water. If conditions inside the greenhouse are too dry, the plants may be troubled from an attack of red spider, which seems to trouble the achimenes as does white fly the cineraria. From the dormant stage the plants should be brought on slowly, at first giving a little water and a temperature of about 56° F. which may be increased as soon as the plants commence to make leaf. Likewise after finishing flowering, the plants should be gradually dried off until the is completely dry and the foliage has died down. The tubers are best stored in the same until the following spring when they are shaken out, divided and reported into fresh compost and a clean pot., or by removing 2-3 in. in length and rooting them in individual containing a
One great advantage with the plants is that they bloom at a height of about 18 in. and make such bushy, sturdy growth that they do not require staking. But they must be given ample room in theor the foliage will suffer if it grows into its neighbour.
This is also a delightful plant for ahanging basket, the tubers first being started in small pots, then are transferred to the baskets which will have been lined with moss and filled with compost. The achimene is an excellent plant for a hanging basket given the protection of a veranda or sun-room in the south-west where I have seen them covered in a mass of gloxinia-like blooms throughout summer and early autumn.
Though fifty years ago, there were a large number of varieties, to-day the choice is more limited, but three possess richness of colouring found in few other pot plants:
- Coceinea. Brilliant scarlet.
- Gloxiniallora. Pure white.
- Longifiora. Which bears gloxinia-like bells of rich purple.