It's a gesneriad, which means it's in the same family as African violets, gloxinias, sinningias, and Smithianthas. They tend to be hairy leaved little critters, like evenly moist soil, high humidity and semi-shaded light, and they have fabulous flowers.
Gesneriads are really fun because they have some interesting means of propagation. Ever broken a leaf off an African violet, stuck it in soil, and rooted it? A brand new plant, a clone of the mother plant, will spring up from the roots at the base of that leaf in just a few weeks. It's like magic!
Achimenes "Pink Nighty" stole my heart when I saw a tiny plant blooming its head off at The Glasshouse Works several years ago. Such an awesome brilliant, clear pink, and I liked the trailing growth habit. It makes an absolute mound of color, and it blooms hard all summer. Of course I bought it and it went forth and multiplied, with a little help from me. I had five pots of Achimenes last summer, lighting up the front porch. They say redheads shouldn't wear pink. My house blushes. I think everything looks OK against barn red.
I always grow it in containers; it's not the kind of thing you plant in your flower bed. A bit too delicate for that. My friend Nancy had given me some lavender Achimenes many years ago, and I'd really enjoyed them, but I'd lost track of them, and I was really glad to re-up on this magical plant.
Because Achimenes has a secret at its roots.
You'll be growing this plant and enjoying it and the nights will start getting a snap to them and the plant will suddenly start winding down. It just sighs and lies down, says it's done. If you didn't know better you'd think the cold had killed it. Not at all. It's just going into a sort of larval phase.
For when you pull the plant out of the pot, you'll find these strange white tubers at the root, right up near the top of the soil. They're scaly and brittle, almost like friable pine cones. Corms? I'm not sure what you call them. I checked a few garden forums, and people are all over the map, calling them tubers, corms, bulbs...and then I found one woman declaring emphatically that they're none of those, they're RHIZOMES. And she put it all in capitals. Hmmm. Well, maybe. You're shouting, but does that make you right? Always pays to be dubious on the Interwebs. They don't look like rhizomes to me, nor do they act like them. I poked around a little more and found an historic text that refers to them as rhizomes: The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. OK. Rhizomes they are. But I prefer "cormules." Mostly because I like the word. And maybe that lady will come here and shout at me. Heh.
that even now, only a few weeks after a frost finally blasted them away, seem so extravagantly beautiful that I can hardly believe I grew them.