ACTUMFNES (hot-water plant)

15 deg C/59 deg F

It is unfortunate that this plant has acquired the misleading name hot-water plant, since it leads many people to think that it is tender or difficult. Being of tropical American origin, it was at one time thought to be lender, and there were recommendations to water with warm water, and with time this became exaggerated. In fact, the plant is quite easy and can be grown from small rhizomes started into growth in spring by immersion in moist peat at about 18 deg C (64 deg F).

As soon as a sign of growth is seen, the rhizomes can be planted about three to five to a 13cm (5 in.) pot, only just covering them with potting compost. There are many cultivars and numerous species, all with attractive, velvety foliage and flowers in a wide range of sizes and colours. Some achimenes are trailers and can be planted in hanging-baskets. Most achimenes will need a few twiggy sticks for support to keep them neat when grown in pots. Flowering is usually from about June to late autumn. Keep the compost moist and shade from direct sunshine. A few recommended varieties for window-sills are ‘Purple King’. ‘Paul Arnold’ (violet purple), and ‘Peach Blossom’ (rich pink with a dark eye). Splendid for hanging pots or baskets is ‘Cattleya’ (blue and white). The ‘Michelssen Hybrids are very popular and have large flowers in various colours. These have a neat habit, but can be used in baskets too.

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