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14 Jul 2018

Achimenes (Gesneriaceae)

From the Greek alpha privative and cheimino “I’m in the cold” to indicate that it is too delicate plants to withstand low temperatures. Perennials, rhizomatous, with short-stemmed flowers, long tubular corolla and 5 brightly colored petals. They are native to Central and South America and can not withstand temperatures below 13-16 ° C. The rhizomes are small, scaly (each flake is a modified leaf) and need a fairly long winter rest, completely dry in a warm place, to avoid any danger of rotting. A lot of light, never direct sun.

The cultivation of the delicate Achimenes requires careful care.
The cultivation of the delicate Achimenes requires careful care.

Cultivated species Achimenes:

A. coccinea, with small scarlet flowers; A. longiflora, the type species native to Guatemala, has purple flowers, but many hybrids of these two species have been produced by crossing them between themselves and the A. grandiflora and the A. tubiflora, producing cultivars with flowers ranging from purple to pink, to white, to red in every shade. The seeds are in fact usually sold “in mixture” and so are the rhizomes.


despite being greenhouse plants, in central-southern Italy, they are also used in the garden and can also be grown in the apartment, provided that the brightness needed for the flowering can be provided; their height varies from 20 to 60 cm, so the taller species will need supports appropriately arranged in the vase. The rhizomes are put into cultivation in February, in pots or terrines, about 6 cm deep in a soil composed of fibrous earth, peat and leaves earth, to which will be added sand or agri-perlite, at about 18 ° C and the waterings will have to be moderated at first, until growth has begun, to gradually increase them. It is important, however, that the vase has an excellent drainage. The repotting, if you want to do, can be done when the plants have reached 5 cm, depending on more or less vigorous growth, so as to obtain a uniform height. After flowering the waterings will be gradually thinned out until complete cessation, the dried stems cut and the tubers left in dry rest until the following February, either by removing them and placing them in dry peat, either leaving them in their pot. The multiplication is carried out by seed, in March, at a temperature of 21-27 ° C, or in open by cuttings of shoots that will easily root.

12 Mar 2018

Aeschynanthus (Gesneriaceae)

The name derives from the Greek but the meaning is obscure; in this genre, we tend to include the genus Trichosporum today. They are suffrutic evergreens from Asia and Madagascar, mostly epiphytes, with declining branches, opposite leaves rather fleshy or leathery, showy flowers, rarely solitary, at the axil of the leaves or terminal, almost always with the corolla and corolla tubular. They are a hot greenhouse, and although it may be possible to keep some species in the apartment, it is very difficult for them to bloom, unless they enjoy exceptional luminosity combined with a lot of atmospheric humidity.

Enlarged detail of the showy red flowers of Aeschynanthus.
Enlarged detail of the showy red flowers of Aeschynanthus.

Cultivated species of Aeschynanthus:

A. javanicus, native of Java, with small ovate leaves, scarlet corolla with yellow throat, violet-red calyx; A. lobbianus, one of the most cultivated species, with small dark green elliptic leaves, scarlet bilobed corolla with cream throat, pubescent calyx along the middle of the corolla; Aeschynanthus marmoratus, native to Siam, leaves up to 8 cm long, oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, mottled by a network of transparent yellowish lines below the epidermis that has an almost crystalline appearance; the same streaks appear in pale green on the lower red-brown page. The flowers are greenish, speckled with brown, inconspicuous; Aeschynanthus pulcher, small ovate leaves light green, green calyx, bilabed corolla three times longer than the chalice, bright vermilion with yellow throat; A. speciosus, from Java, strong plant but of disorderly growth, with branches up to 60 cm long, with large green and leathery leaves, with showy, tubular flowers, up to 20 together, in terminal bunches, with a 10 cm corolla approximately, red orange and yellow throat stained in brown red.


 the Aeschynanthus, like all epiphytes, require a very humid substrate, capable of retaining moisture without however having the least stagnation of water; for this purpose, peat and sphagnum with coal fragments are normally used. They can also be grown on trunks or cork bark with roots covered with sphagnum and secured by ligatures, or in baskets pierced by orchids, but the cultivation in pots is the simplest. The minimum winter temperature should be around 16 ° C, and the atmosphere must be kept as humid as possible, with frequent spraying. During the winter the waterings will be thinned out, even if you do not have to allow the mixture to dry completely. Multiplication, by semi-hard wood cuttings in late winter, is easy at adequate temperature (around 22-26 ° C) and relatively rapid rooting.

Also read: Aeonium (Crassulaceae).