Botanical Name: Achimenes Spp. and Hybrids
Show off your flowering plant in a hanging basket -- you'll enjoy showers of beautiful blooms from late spring till fall.
Dozens of hybrids are available to choose from, offering an abundance of red, pink, white, purple, violet-blue or yellow flowers. Some hybrids have contrasting striped throats.
Flowers appear on short stems that grow from the leaf axils. The tubular flowers grow up to 2 in (5 cm) long, and flare out into 5-petaled trumpets, up to 3 in (8 cm) wide. Each flower lasts just a few days, but you'll enjoy continuous blooms for several months.
Pinch stem tips when they are about 3 in (7.5 cm) long to promote branching. You'll get a fuller plant this way.
Deep-green, velvety leaves are carried in pairs, and can grow up to 3 in (8 cm) long with sawtoothed edges. The long stems are weak -- causing them to cascade over the edge of the pot.
Shed some light. Put your plant where it'll get plenty of light, but out of direct sun. Filtered light from a south- or west-facing window will give it the light it needs.
Water regularly. Keep the soil evenly moist during the growing season, but take care not to overwater. Dry soil will cause the plant to go dormant. Soggy soil will quickly cause the rhizomes to rot.
Give it a winter rest. Achimenes will go dormant in the winter. When flowering tapers off in fall, reduce watering and allow the plant to die back naturally. Cut off brown, withered stems at soil level with sharp pruners -- don't pull them off with your hands because that may damage the rhizomes. Take rhizomes out of the pot and store them in a paper bag, in a cool (60°F/16°C), dry place until spring.
Repot every spring. Pot the dormant rhizomes in fresh potting mix (see Soil below), planting them 1 in (2.5 cm) deep. Keep the mix lightly moist at all times. Spring is a good time to divide rhizomes.
How it became known as Hot Water Plant: Rhizomes can be started into growth by dipping them in hot water before planting. The hot water bath isn't necessary, but this is where it got the name.
Discard any rhizomes that are small or shriveled -- they're not worth repotting.
Origin: Central America
Height: Trails to 1-2 ft (30-60 cm)
Light: Bright, indirect sunlight. Protect your plant from hot midday sun, which may cause brown scorch marks on the tender leaves.
Water: Keep soil evenly moist at all times. If the medium is allowed to dry out, the plant will go dormant. Don't water in winter.
Humidity: Moderate humidity.
Temperature: Average room temperature 65-75°F/18-24°C; Achimenes will tolerate temps as low as 55°F/12°C, but anything above 80°F/25°C will cause flower buds to shrivel and dry up.
Soil: Use equal parts peat moss, coarse sand or perlite, and vermiculite.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks while plants are blooming with high-phosphorous liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength.
Propagation: Take 3 in (8 cm) stem tip cuttings in early summer. Or, cut rhizome into pieces and pot separately.
Some common names for this plant are Cupid's Bower, Hot Water Plant, or Magic Flower. Many varieties are available in spring and summer.
A. erecta is a popular variety. Despite its name, this plant has a trailing habit -- growing to 18 in (45 cm) -- with bright red flowers.
A. longiflora trails up to 2 ft (60 cm) long, and has big, blue flowers with a white throat. A.l. 'Alba' and A.l. 'Ambroise Verschaffelt' both feature white flowers with purple lines down the throat.