Achimenes grandiflora: Hot water plant

Family: Gesneriaceae
Common name: Hot water plant, Cupid’s bow, Mother’s tears

Hot water plants are beautiful, but short-lived flowering plants that can add a dash of color to your home garden, blooming profusely during the summer and spring seasons. These plants grow to a height of 50-70 cms with a reddish-maroon succulent stem that arises from root rhizomes.

Leaves are dark green, hairy, about 3-5 cms long with distinct serrations along the edges. Hot water plant leaves are dark green along the upper surface, and dull green or red along the lower surface.

Flowers are produced from leaf axils, the angle between the leaf and the stem, or from the tips of the stems. The stem is upright, but it might need support in case it gets too long and leggy. It is a good idea to pinch the stem tips to ensure the plant grows bushy and rounded.

Flowers come in a range of colors like blue, lavender, scarlet, white, purple, and pink; the most common one being the purple-flowered variant. Though hot water plant flowers only live for 2-3 days, the long flowering season and abundant blooms ensure that the plant is beautiful for the most part of the year.

These flowers have 5 distinct, dull-green sepals and long, tubular flowers. Corolla tubes are about 2 cm long, almost orange in color ending in 5 purple petals that are merged at the center. The throat is white and yellow in color with distinct markings. White variants also have purple shading towards the center.

Hot water plants are called so because some people believed that dipping the whole plant in hot water encouraged blooming, an experiment you should not undertake at home:). These plants love bright sunlight, thriving and blooming well in direct sunlight.

They need regular watering and fertilization, especially during the flowering season. Hot water plants are native to Mexico and Central America but are now naturalized in most tropical countries.

Once the parent plant dies after flowering, the rhizomes can stay in the ground producing more plants, thus ensuring that the plant survives a long time. These plants prefer warm water to cold water, one of the reasons why they are called Hot water plants.

Propagation is through rhizomes and stem cuttings.