Cultivating Achimenes and Aconitum Successfully

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Achimenes are tuberous-rooted greenhouse perennials.
The numerous hybrids and species of achimenes comprise a race of extremely decorative plants. Neatly staked, they are charming in pots, and their semi-pendant habit makes them particularly adaptable for planting in hanging baskets.

Although achimenes will endure a cool greenhouse temperature during the flowering period, a minimum reading of 60 degrees. must be maintained before that time. It is advisable to start the tubers at intervals of three weeks, commencing in February, by boxing them in sandy compost and watering sparingly until the shoots are about 2 in. in height. Then they must be carefully moved to 7 inch or 8 inch pots, placing the tubers 2 to 3 inches apart each way. Baskets should first of all be lined with moss and then filled in with a good compost of equal parts fibrous loam, leaf-mould, and peat with a liberal sprinkling of sharp sand. Roots should be inserted so that the growths will push through the wires in addition to trailing over the top of the basket. A moist growing atmosphere must be maintained and the plants kept close to the glass but shaded from bright sunshine.

Achimenes are thirsty plants and must be freely watered during the growing period. A weekly dose of liquid manure is also advisable. After flowering, decrease the water supply until, when growth is thoroughly ripened, the pots can be stored on their sides under the staging.

Seeds can be sown in light sandy soil in a temperature of 70 degrees to 80 degrees in March. Other methods are by cuttings, which will root from almost any portion of the stem, or by leaves, which are simply severed from the plants and pricked into pots or pans of light compost, taking care to bury all the petiole, or leaf stem; and by scales. These should be carefully rubbed from the tubers in spring and sown thinly in the same manner as seeds. In every case early spring is the best time to commence operations. A close moist atmosphere and a similar temperature to that recommended for seed sowing are also essential.

Aconitum are hardy herbaceous perennials. The aconitums are popularly known as Wolf's Bane and Monk's-hood. All are handsome perennials, and several flower late in the season, but as they are poisonous they should be planted out of reach of small children.

Aconitums revel in deep rich and rather cool soils and do well in shady places. The roots are thick and tuberous, and for this reason it is not advisible to trans�plant them in the autumn, and March and April are the most suitable months for this operation. Moreover, they do not recover so rapidly as most herbaceous perennials after transplanting, and so should, as far as possible, be left undisturbed when once established. The taller kinds must be carefully staked to avoid damage to the flower spikes, but with a little care the stakes may be so disposed that they are almost completely hidden from view by the foliage. All aconitums appreciate abundant moisture during the growing season.

Careful division at planting time affords an easy means of increasing stock at a moderate pace. Care should be taken when dividing not to injure the tuberous roots more than is absolutely unavoidable. Seed will also germinate readily if sown in well-drained pans or boxes in a cold frame during March or early April.

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Author: Ian SG Smith
Ian has a great interest in gardening and writes occasional articles. he would invite you to take a look at his newest website and especially

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