Wednesday 5 September 2012

Her indoors: Part 3

Achimenes: the hot water plant

You are unlikely to see them in garden centres, yet thousands of gardeners grow them every year.
Achimenes ‘Early Arnold’

There are many varieties of this compact, furry leaved pot plant. If you regrow them each year from tiny catkin-like tubercles, you will have enough spare plants for all your friends. They grow better on a well lit window sill than on a growers greenhouse bench. Start with four or five small tubercles per pot in early March. Water well and, after a few weeks, young plants will emerge. Don’t water too often at first. Remember the watering rule, each watering should be thorough, but frequency varies with conditions and plant size.

From late June, expect four months of continuous flowers. By October they start to die down. Stop watering, let them dry out completely and store away in some cool place, still in their pots. It’s fun in early spring to crumble out the tubercles and start all over again.

After penning this post, I have just visited my friend Peter Williams in the village. His achimenes put mine to shame! He tells me he bought the tubercles from Alison Bilverstone, who runs her mail order business from a small private home. Great value, but hopefully Peter will be giving me some of his lovely new varieties! 

A few different achimenes here! Achimenes belong to the family Gesneriaceae. Here they share a place with other gesneriads.

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