What is Amicia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 13 February 2019
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Amicia is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family. These plants are native to Mexico and Central America and can be found in nurseries and through garden supply catalogs for people who are interested in cultivating them ornamentally. Gardeners may also have seeds or cuttings available for trade, especially in regions where this plant flourishes in the garden.

Typically, Amicia species have broad green leaves arranged in opposite rows. They tend to droop or fold up at night, protecting the plant from cooler evening temperatures, and in some areas, the plant is deciduous, losing its leaves in the fall due to the colder climate. The flowers are yellow to red and appear in the form of small capsules, usually dwarfed by the large leaves. They will develop into long pods typical of members of the pea family.

These plants prefer well-drained soil of medium quality in a warm, sheltered area. Water requirements tend to be moderate. They need full sun and a good windbreak. In climates where the winters get very cold, it may be necessary to bring Amicia into a greenhouse to overwinter, or to cover the plants on cold nights. Growing them in containers can facilitate moving the plants as needed to accommodate cold temperatures.


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones seven through nine are usually suitable for growing Amicia, and some gardeners have success outside this range. Extreme heat is not good for the plants, and they may wilt or burn. Likewise, very cold temperatures will shock the tender stems and leaves. If parts of the plant die off during a period of unusual temperatures, they can be pruned away and the plant can be monitored to see if it recovers. Generally, losing more than one third of the plant will cause it to die.

This plant can be used ornamentally in the garden in a variety of ways, including as a standalone specimen planting, part of a hedge, or in the back of beds to provide more visual interest and texture. It can be pruned and shaped as necessary to encourage it to grow in a more compact, bushy style and to keep the branches from trailing over neighboring plants. When Amicia is grown in an area of the garden it likes with adequate protection and good soil, it can grow quite large. Generally, it resists pests like insects and slugs and is a good companion planting for other sun-loving plants that favor sheltered conditions.



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