When to Plant Impatiens

When to Plant Impatiens
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When to Plant Impatiens

Impatiens Are One of the Most Popular Annual Flowers Grown for the Garden

There is one primary reason for this popularity which impatiens add flower power to your shade garden. This makes them perfect for a container planting in a shaded entry or for window boxes on the east or north side of the house. 

However, impatiens will show their true glory when used as bedding plants in a shade garden. These plants grow in a bush form that will be covered in flowers throughout the late spring and summer months.

When to Grow Impatiens

Most gardeners purchase their impatiens from the nursery as ready to bloom plants. Don’t rush putting them outdoors as the tropical impatiens are extremely cold intolerant. Check the last frost date for your grow zone and then check the long-range weather forecast for your area. 

Don’t plant until both indicate it is safe to do so. The entire plant will turn to mush if hit by frost. Impatiens take longer to grow from seed but once they reach the flowering size they will take off. Impatiens will grow 6 inches to 3 feet tall and will be 1-3 feet across depending on the variety you choose. 

Impatiens are covered in flowers in shades of pink, white, red, lilac, corals, and yellow, and there are even varieties that are bicolor as well. Some varieties are bred to have larger flowers, and some have double petals. Some impatiens have been bred to tolerate a little sun, but all bloom well in the shade.

Where to Plant Impatiens

Impatiens do best in well-drained soil enriched with organic material. Because they are such a hard-working flower producing plant, they will benefit from a feeding of water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks. 

If you are likely to forget to fertilize, an alternative is to use a slow-release fertilizer when you plant the impatiens and again in the middle of summer. Bottom line, impatiens need a good amount of water, ideally 2 inches a week minimum.

This is especially true if the temperatures are in the eighties or higher, or if they are growing in containers or hanging pots. In those conditions, you may need to water daily.

Growing Impatiens Indoors

If your impatiens start to look leggy by the end of summer, use clippers to cut back the plants as much as a third. This will encourage the plant to form new branching and more flowers. If you want to grow impatiens indoors, this is a perfect opportunity to use the cuttings for this purpose. 

Remove a cutting that is 4-6 inches long with several leaves. If there are any flowers or seed pods on the cutting, remove them as well as the bottom sets of leaves. Place the cuttings in water until they grow roots. Change the water frequently to keep it clean. 

Once the cutting has rooted, plant the cutting in moist potting soil, and place it in bright indirect light. You can grow them as a houseplant or use them for next summer’s garden. While impatiens are usually used outdoors, they will do well indoors as a houseplant as well.

Growing Your Impatiens from Seed

As mentioned earlier, you can grow impatiens from seed. Impatiens take longer to grow so you may be planting them even before you start your vegetable seeds. It can take several months for the seeds to grow to flowering maturity so be sure to start the seed early enough. Check your seed packet for the amount of lead time that the variety you are going to grow needs. 

Start by filling the small pots or seed cells with a moist seed starter mix. Place two seeds in each pot or cell and cover with the mix. If you are using a seed starting kit, place the cover over the cells to keep the humidity high until the seeds sprout. 

If you are using your pots, cover them with a plastic bag. Remove the covering once the seeds have sprouted. Place the containers in a bright location or use grow lights for about 16 hours a day. Plant outdoors after the danger of frost has ended.

Whether you grow your plants from seed or purchase impatiens ready to plant outdoors, this is a must have plant if you have any shady garden spot to fill.