The species in this genus, commonly known as cupid’s bower, nut orchid, or magic flower, come from the West Indies and Central America. They vary from ½ – 2 ft. (15—60 cm), with the larger ones tending to have a more trailing habit. All have a rhizomatous root system, which sends up many individual stems carrying heart-shaped, velvety, dark green leaves.
The short-stalked flowers are short-lived, but produced over a long period. Once flowering is over, the plant starts to shrivel and dry out. At this point, stems can be removed at soil level and the plant set aside to rest until growth restarts in spring. Despite its name, A. erecta (syn. A. coccinea), is a trailing plant up to 18 in. (45 cm) tall which, in the right conditions, produces spectacular flowers and foliage. Each small rhizome produces a reddish green stem carrying pairs of heart-shaped, dark green, hairy leaves.
The bright red flowers are borne from early summer to mid fall. It prefers a warm, well-lit place, and can be grown in a hanging basket. A. longiflora has trailing stems, up to 2 ft. (60 cm) long, growing from small rhizomes. The hairy leaves, to 5 in. (8 cm) long and 1V4 in. (5 cm) wide, have saw toothed edges.
The flowers, up to 2 in. (5 cm) long and 3 in. (8 cm) across, produced from early summer to mid-fall, are blue with a white throat. There is a white form, A.l. ‘Alba’ and A.l. ‘Ambroise Verschaffelt’ has white flowers with purple lines down the throat. A. ‘Tango’ has glowing pink flowers with pink-streaked throats.
Size: Height to 1½—2 ft. (45-60 cm)
Light: Indirect sunlight.
Moisture: Keep thoroughly moist from spring to fall, then gradually reduce. Do not water in winter.
Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks from spring until fall.
Propagation: Take tip cuttings or cut up pieces of rhizome in spring or summer.
Special needs: Tolerates temperatures as low as 55°F (12°C), but above 80°F (25°C) the buds will shrivel and die.