Know Before You Grow: Impatiens

Know Before You Grow: Impatiens
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Know Before You Grow: Impatiens

Impatiens: Popular Flowers in Many Colors

Garden impatiens are tender perennials from Asia and Africa, usually grown as annuals for their beautiful flowers.

Choosing Impatiens Varieties

Impatiens have flowers from white to red and orange to rich purple and are often sold as packages of seeds or plants of mixed color, so you have many choices. Most form compact round plants up to about 2’ tall. Some varieties reach only half that height and others can reach 4’ tall, so check the details.

 Planting Tips for Impatiens

Traditional garden impatiens, Impatiens balsamifera, can be grown from seeds. It takes it about 115 days to start of flower, so starting seeds indoors and planting seedlings out after the last frost is the recommended. In USDA Zones 9 to 11 impatiens will survive the winter and can be directly sown into the ground.

Start seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost date, in a rich potting soil. Impatiens need light to germinate, so lay the seeds on the soil surface. Cover with clear glass or plastic wrap to enhance germination. Keep warm and mist daily, being careful not to overwater. Impatiens seedlings are subject to damping off (fatal fungal infection), though newer varieties are more resistant. Reduce the risk of damping off by using very clean equipment. Remove the covers once the seeds germinate. Provide seedlings with plenty of light and regular moisture. Transplant carefully when the soil outside is warm.

Plants can be grown from cuttings as well. Most Impatiens hybrids, New Guinea impatiens, (Impatiens hawkeri), and sultana impatiens (I. walleriana), are rooted from cuttings and sold as potted plants.

Impatiens are great bedding plants, provide a blast of color anywhere they are planted, and grow well in baskets and containers. They also make excellent house plants.

Where to Plant Impatiens

Impatiens are excellent shade plants, but flower better in bright shade or with a bit of full sun daily. In hot climates, plant in a spot protected from full afternoon summer sun. In cooler climates, provide more sunlight. Impatiens are heat tolerant if they have adequate water. Provide average to rich soil, neutral to slightly acidic.

Pests and Problems to Watch For

Failure to flower generally is due to growing with insufficient sunlight.

Impatiens, especially in pots, are very sensitive to drought and wilt easily; be sure to keep them moist, but well-drained.

Special Considerations

No need to prune or remove old flowers from impatiens, just let them grow. Plants will continue to bloom from summer until killed by frost.

You can root cuttings in the fall to grow your impatiens as a house plant all winter.

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