Achimenes x hybridum: Cupid’s Bower

The mid-nineteenth century or thereabouts brought the discovery of beautiful plants of the genus Achimenes, most of them indigenous to Mexico. Only one species — A. coccinea — had been known since the late eighteenth century but it had not won any great popularity. The discovery of new species and the hybrids derived from them, however, made these plants, which flower throughout the summer and die back to pass the winter as scaly rhizomes, the fashion of the day for a time.

In the wild they are generally found growing in a small amount of humus on large moss-covered boulders or shaded stone walls as well as steep rock faces. Some species, however, also grow on grassy banks. A. ehrenbergii may even be found high up in the mountains, and is adapted for life there with a thick coat of long silvery hairs.

Nurseries offer both ‘pure’ botanical species such as A. Candida, corolla white with mouth spotted yellow and red; A. coccinea, corolla only about 1 cm (‘: in) across, bright scarlet; and A. grandiflora, corolla reddish-violet; and hybrids, noteworthy being ‘Little Beauty’, small, compact, with large pink flowers borne in profusion over a long period. There are also intcrgeneric hybrids, chiefly from crossings with Smithiantha zebrina, listed in catalogues under the name x Eucodonopsis, for example x Eucodonopsis naegelioides, a cross between Achimenes ehrenbergii and Smithiantha zebrina; and x E. roezlii, a cross between A. mexicana and S. zebrina.

Cultivation is not difficult. As has already been said the plants pass the winter in the form of scaly rhizomes which are very fragile. They should be put in peat and kept dry in a warm room for the winter. Some time around March put several rhizomes in flat dishes on a mixture of peat, compost, loam and sand and cover them lightly with a 1- to 2-cm- (Va-tO ¾- in)-layer of similar compost. During the first few months of the growing period keep adding compost to cover the plants so that they will root thoroughly. For this reason, the dish should be filled only half full at the start.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles | Comments Off on Achimenes x hybridum: Cupid’s Bower

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