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Gazania Species
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Achimenes belongs to Gesneriaceae family and it is also known as hot water plant, monkey-faced pansies magic flowers and so on. Its native is Mexico and Central America and it is perennial type (i.e. it can last for more than three seasons). It consists of attractive funnel-shaped flowers for about 1 to 3 inches in diameter and flowers in different colours like purple, yellow, white, pink, blue, and lavender. It has no fragrance. It flowers in midsummer. It consists of slender leafy stems, attractive foliages in green colour. It undergoes biological rest (i.e. natural death) in autumn; so let it to dry in autumn and it start its growth cycle in summer. This plant shed its leaves in resting period.
Cultivation : Achimenes plant can be grown easily from bulb. To plant with bulb, bury it in the soil for the depth of about twice the height of bulb. While burying more bulbs place them 3 to 4 inches apart. This type of plant bulb can be planted in any direction; hence it grows when planted in any position. More care should be taken for finding location for planting this type of plant; the soil must be fertile, must be well drained and must be moist. It must be planted in light shade to moderate shade location; hence the plant will burn in full sun. Water logged location must be avoided. Water soaking the planted area after burying the bulb and keep the soil moist and make sure that the soil is not wet. In 2 to 4 weeks sprouts appears and plant grows rapidly. It begins to flower in young age itself.
Achimenes can also be grown from pots or container for better flowering. Fertilizing is must when grown in container for good growth. Prefer early spring for planting in container. Select a large pot with drainage holes and fill it with rich and well-drained soil. Dig small holes in the soil and plant the bulb about 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. Place the container in light shade to moderate shade location. Water it regularly for good growth and ensure that the soil is moist and not wet. After the growth of the plant to some extent, it can be replanted in ground. Wherever it may be planted container or ground, that must consists of many rooms for spreading of plants.
If we let the soil to dry, it will lead the plant to dormancy and stops blooming. Regularly water the plant till blooming period and excess watering must be avoided, hence it lead to bulb decay and there must be few days gap between watering. Once when the plant finished flowering, reduce watering the plant and make the rhizome to dormancy. Take at least a month to force the plant to dormancy.
Propagation : Dividing rhizomes at the time you re-pot can propagate Achimenes. Rhizomes can be taken out after dormancy and can be stored and planted. Dividing bulbs after flowering can propagate it. Bulbs are lifted during winter season and it is divided and in early spring it should be replanted.
It can also be propagated from seeds by sowing seed in a container and when seed germinates wait till the bulb formation and then plant it in the site you preferred.
Can also be propagated by cutting the stem of the plants and growth rate will be very high when propagated by cutting the plant.
Varieties : Achimenes plant consists of about 25 different species. Mexico is where the more number of species are found. There is only one species called Achimenes erecta which occur naturally in West Indies and most of its species are cultivated rather than its native place. Some of the selected species of Achimenes are Achimenes longiflora, Achimenes patens, Achimenes misera, Achimenes grandiflora, Achimenes erect, Achimenes cettoana, Achimenes Tetra beauty, Achimenes heterophylla, Achimenes dulcis and so on.
Disease and Cure : Wide-range fungicide and insecticides must be used especially in winter to prevent the plant from fungal diseases that spreads very easily throughout the plant when left unseen and cause damage to whole plant and also to protect the plant from the aphids attack.
Spider mites, which are small spider like creature with 8 legs that thrive in hot, dry conditions, feed with piercing mouthpart, causes plants to appear yellow and stippled. Hence Leaf drop and plant death can occur with heavy infestations. Spider mites can multiply quickly. They also produce a web, which covers infested leaves and flowers. In order to prevent and control it, keep weeds down and remove infected leaves and dry air will worsen the problem, so regularly water the plants. Leaf spots can also be prevented by removing infected leaves and bulbs.
Use moderately warmed water for watering; hence cold water causes unpleasant marks formation on the leaves. Avoid excess watering to prevent from diseases such as pythophtora and pythium root rot, which is caused by rotting of root due to excess watering.
Keep the planting area clean by removing yellowed and unhealthy leaves to prevent from diseases and also to be free from pest. Take off spent flowers, hence when they fall into leaves they will stay there.

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