Achimenes, also commonly referred to as hot water plant, magic plant, or monkey faced-pansy, is a member of the Gesneriaceae. The genus is comprised of 25 species native to subtropical forest regions of Central America and northern South America (Brickell and Zuk, 1996). Achimenes have been cultivated since the late 1700s, upon first introduction to England (Jungbauer, 1977). Popularity has waned and surged, largely following breeding efforts undertaken in the 1940s in The Netherlands, Germany, and the United States (Vlahos, 1991). Recently renewed breeding efforts have led to increased interest in achimenes.
Achimenes flower profusely through the summer into the fall, ranging in color from white, pink, purple, yellow, and red. Achimenes are well suited for use as pot plants, in mixed containers, and in hanging baskets (De Hertogh and Le Nard, 1993; Wilkins, 2005), with the potential for use as a bedding plant. Despite their great ornamental qualities, greenhouse production of achimenes has been limited due to a required dormancy period.
The dormancy initiation and release mechanism(s) in achimenes are poorly understood. Even under optimal growth conditions, the aerial vegetation begins to senesce, and for unknown reasons, the plant enters a dormant phase (Lyon, 1967). It also has been reported that if achimenes are not kept evenly moist, premature dormancy can occur if plants are allowed to dry out excessively (Brickell and Zuk, 1996; Larson, 1992; Marvinny, 1967; Wiles, 1988). When the foliage begins to senesce, rhizomes that have developed on underground stolons become dormant or inactive, and, like some other geophytes, will not resume growth until the necessary dormant period has been achieved. Dormancy of achimenes has been reported to last between 12 and 20 weeks, depending on the cultivar (Wiles, 1988). A greater understanding and ability to manipulate the dormancy in achimenes would allow for increased greenhouse production and increase the crop diversity in the floriculture industry. The objective of this study was to evaluate the dormancy characteristics of five recently developed achimenes cultivars and its effect on the subsequent number of weeks to root and shoot emergence.
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