The Achimenes (a-KIM-e-neez) were first introduced in England from Jamaica in 1778. They were very popular in England in the 1700’s. Achimenes are widely grown in England and the United States today.
About 25 species of Achimenes are known. Most of the species are native to Central America. They are also found in Jamaica and South America.
Achimenes are well adapted to grow on the porch in the summer. The Achimenes are started from scaly rhizomes (underground stems) in April or May or may be started from seed in January or February. Achimenes look best when massed together. Plant a dozen rhizomes horizontally in a six inch hanging basket or azalea pot. Cover the rhizomes with one-half to one inch of soil. Pot rhizomes in a soilless mix consisting of one part Jiffy Mix (one part peat moss to one part vermiculite) and one part perlite. Water plants with one quarter strength of granular fertilizer like Rapid Gro. Use this solution every time you water the plants. Never let the soil dry out or the plants will go dormant.
Depending on the variety, the Achimenes will grow to a few inches to a couple of feet. Achimenes will bloom all summer. The large showy flowers come in colors ranging from white, pink, red, blue, purple to yellow. “Purple King” is the most widely grown variety.
In late summer, when frost is approaching, withhold water and let the plants go dormant. Over-winter the rhizomes in a plastic bag filled with vermiculite. Replant the rhizomes in the spring.