Achimenes or Cupid’s Bower
Achimenes is an easy indoor plant to look after and rewards the gardener by producing masses of flowers all summer and early autumn. The large flowers, usually in shades of purple, pink, blue and white, are delicate and fade quickly, but this is not really a problem as so many are produced to replace them. In addition to the colourful flowers, Achimenes has attractive, often hairy, leaves.
Plants can grow leggy, so keep pinching out the tips as the stems grow. This will encourage sideshoots and will help to keep the plant bushy. It may also be necessary to provide a little light support for the plant to prevent the long, weak stems from flopping over as they grow. Carefully tie the stems to a bamboo frame or small piece of trellis as they grow, using garden twine.
It is possible to grow Achimenes as a trailing plant by not pinching out the tips and not training it to a frame. It then works well as a colourful flowering specimen for an indoor hanging basket.
After flowering has finished in autumn, watering should be stopped completely and the foliage will then start to die back. Once it has died down completely, cut the foliage away and dispose of it. The rhizome that is left in the soil should be kept dry all winter. The following spring it can be gently started into growth, with a little heat and a little water.
Watering should be increased as new shoots start to show and the plant grows -and when it is in full growth it should never be allowed to dry out completely. It is possible to buy Achimenes in late spring and summer as a pot plant when it is already growing, or as dry tubers, which you will need to start into growth yourself in early spring.
Aechmia is among the bromeliad group which, despite its exotic appearance, is generally easy to care for. The spiky, often striped leaves and bold inflorescences make aechmias particularly at home in minimalist interiors, where they can grab all the attention. They look particularly good in sleek, modern containers.