Thursday, June 10, 2010

Achimenes, the Magic Flowers

Achimenes (pronounced /æˈkɪmɨniːz/) is a genus of about 25 species of tropical and subtropical rhizomatous perennial herbs in the flowering plant family Gesneriaceae. They have a multitude of common names such as Magic Flowers, Widow's Tears, Cupid's Bower, or Hot Water Plant. The plant's name comes from the Greek word meaning "suffer from cold."

The genus is native to North America (Mexico) and Central America, with one species (A. erecta) occurring naturally in the West Indies. The largest number of species is found in Mexico. Several species and hybrids are widely cultivated and naturalized outside their native range. A complete list of the species, with their synonyms and geographic distributions, can be found in the Smithsonian Institution's World Checklist of Gesneriaceae.

Achimenes species and hybrids are commonly grown as greenhouse plants, or outdoors as bedding plants in subtropical regions. The species have been extensively hybridized, with many of the hybrids involving the large-flowered species A. grandiflora and A. longiflora. Many of the species and their hybrids have large, brightly colored flowers and are cultivated as ornamental greenhouse and bedding plants. They are generally easy to grow as long as their basic requirements are met: a rich well-drained soil, bright indirect light, warmth, constant moisture, and high humidity. They have a winter dormancy and overwinter as scaly rhizomes, which should be kept dry until they sprout again in the spring. Some of the species and their hybrids are moderately hardy and can be grown outdoors year-round in zone 8, or even zone 7 with protection.


See also: Flowers Philippines, Flower Sydney, Flowers Brisbane

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