When to plant impatients?


As kids, the ice cream truck was an icon for simple summer pleasures. Ice cream, sherbet, and brightly colored ices were quintessential summer treats.

As adults, the local garden center is our new ice cream truck and impatiens are the new simple pleasure. Their hues compare to watermelon, tangerine, peach, and grape popsicles, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, or orange and white creamsicles.

Impatiens will add fullness and a burst of color to any garden setting

Impatiens are one of the most reliable of the summer annuals – easy to grow and perfect for shady spots. In containers, hanging baskets, window boxes, and garden beds, they add fullness and continuous color from late spring through early fall. Got an empty spot somewhere that needs a quick fix? Impatiens will fill the void with mounds of soft hues or vibrant shades.

These sweet plants get their name from the Latin word for impatient because of the hasty way they hurl the seeds from their pods with even the slightest touch. Originally from East Africa they are part of the Balsaminaceae family, which includes over 800 species of plants. In their native tropical climate, they’re evergreen perennials but are annuals in most other regions.

Types of Impatiens

Each year introduces new varieties of impatiens in various sizes and colors – it’s always a pleasant surprise to see what’s new at the garden center! There are single and double blooms in solid colors and variegated shades.

Beyond the pinks, oranges, reds, and purples we’ve come to expect, there are now lemon and apricot shades that bring surprising color and contrast to blend with other summer blooms. Available in small, medium, and tall sizes, there are impatiens for everyone.

Impatiens come in so many varieties and vibrant colors.

Single Impatiens are the ones we typically see throughout the garden center. They have five flat petals and bright green leaves that form waves of color. They pair beautifully with other shade loving foliage plants like hosta or moss for a serene setting. Also try them with daylilies and ornamental grasses for a naturalized setting.

Impatiens are one of the few plants that flower in the shade but also tolerate full sun

Double Impatiens look like miniature roses forming bouquets of flowers within flowers surrounded by bright green leaves. Perfect for gardeners who love roses everywhere, even in small spaces like hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers where rose bushes are impractical. Mix double impatiens in bright colors with trailing vines and asparagus ferns for cottage charm.

New Guinea impatiens are large and showy, reaching up to two feet tall. Developed to withstand more sun then other varieties, they offer a wonderful color palette and are prized for their large variegated foliage. As with all impatiens, they’ll wither without enough water but they are very forgiving – a good drink of water should quickly perk up a wilted New Guinea!

Care Tips

Your impatiens are ready to plant as soon as the danger of frost is past. One of the few plants that flowers in the shade but also tolerates full sun, they’re indispensable to any gardener. They will struggle in deep shade under large trees or in spots with full afternoon sun, but generally perform exceptionally in almost any garden spot.

Impatiens love moisture but hate standing water – they will let you know if they’re thirsty by drooping their stems so you’ll give them a drink. If your impatiens are in a sunny spot, container, or hanging basket they’ll need more water than those planted in the shade.

Impatiens create charming planters and window boxes.

Impatiens will grow large and full if fertilized regularly and pinched back to encourage new branches to form. To simplify care, add some water soluble fertilizer once a week when watering the plants. By mid-summer, your impatiens may become long and leggy. To keep them full and attractive, they’ll need to be clipped. Use sharp scissors to cut the stems back to the height desired – cut right above the node where the stem branches.

Growing Impatiens Flowers

Botanical Name: Impatiens walleriana hybrids

Growing impatiens flowers in containers allows you to enjoy a profusion of bright blooms just about anywhere. Brighten up a kitchen windowsill, sunroom or patio with these constant-blooming flowers.

Impatiens flowers are typically flat, with 5 over-lapping petals and a prominent eye. You’ll find them in a wide range of colors: pink, red, salmon, lavender, white and bicolors. Some varieties have double flowers that look like mini roses. Soft, oval leaves are held on succulent stems.

Impatiens are sometimes called Busy Lizzy, Patient Lucy and Touch-Me-Not.

Among the most popular flowers for shade, you’ll find impatiens for sale in garden centers in spring and summer. Many varieties are available. Look for the Elfin and Dwarf varieties — they’re compact, making them attractive house plants.

Caring for Impatiens

Few flowers? Impatiens won’t bloom if they don’t get enough light. When growing impatiens indoors, it can be challenging to find a spot where they’ll get at least 4 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. If you don’t have space near a sunny window, you can move your plant outdoors. Just keep it shaded from hot, direct sun in summer.

Water regularly. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Flowering plants are thirsty, and they dry out quickly in containers, so check them often. Check out the stylish self-watering pots available now. They not only cut back on your watering chores, these time-saving pots will prevent your impatiens from wilting.

Deadhead spent blooms. Remove flowers as soon as they fade to keep plants looking their best and to encourage more blooms.

Growing impatiens outdoors for the summer? Bring the pots indoors when the temperature drops in fall and you’ll enjoy their beauty just a while longer. Before you bring them inside, check the plants for spider mites. They may invade this plant if the humidity is low.

Repot plants. You’ll get the most blooms by keeping your impatiens slightly pot-bound, so move up to a bigger pot only when the roots fill the pot. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil, which can cause root rot.

How to Care for Impatiens Flowers

Origin: South Asia, East Africa and New Guinea

Height: Up to 15 in (38 cm); some dwarf varieties stay much smaller

Light: Bright light; no direct midday sun in summer.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist, not soggy. Impatiens flowers will quickly wilt if they are allowed to dry out. Use a pot with drainage holes and water thoroughly to ensure all the roots are watered.

Humidity: Moderate (at least 40% relative humidity). Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to raise the humidity around it.

Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C

Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix with added perlite and/or vermiculite for good drainage. African violet potting mix is ideal.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly in spring and summer with a high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer diluted by half. Too much fertilizer promotes leafy growth and few flowers.

Propagation: Take 4 inch (10 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring or summer. They’ll root easily in water or moist soil. Sow seeds in spring or early summer.

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Growing Impatiens

A great way to improve the entrance of any home is by using potted color, and Impatiens are a wonderful choice when used in pots and hanging baskets. Although they are relatively easy to grow there are some useful tips for ensuring you have the healthiest and most colourful plants.
Impatiens provide colour all year round, not just from their vibrant flowers in shades of pink, orange, cerise, red, maroon, magenta, pure white and bicolor, but also from the exotic foliage that some varieties produce. They look great either mixed and matched, or grown in a mass display of single colours.
For the best results, Impatiens need a good quality potting mix, regular watering and a fortnightly application of soluble fertiliser to keep their vigour when flowering.
Planting Impatiens
When planting into pots and baskets, select a container that allows room for a good root system to develop, and use a top quality and moisture-retentive potting mix such as Searles Platinum Potting Mix.
Containerised plants tend to dry out quickly in hot and windy weather. To ensure your plants do not suffer from moisture stress, water them regularly – in normal conditions about twice a week should suffice, but in extreme weather it may be necessary to water them more frequently. In heatwave conditions Impatiens sometimes become limp and floppy; if this is the case, a good soak overnight will revive them and restore them to normal vigour by morning.
Positioning Impatiens
Impatiens like a sheltered position away from frost and wind and with some sunlight. If grown in full sun, they’ll remain very compact, whereas if they are grown in full shade, they become leggy and won’t flower so well. So an ideal spot for them is one with shade and sunlight, such as on verandahs, patios and balconies. For more sunnier positions, try growing the more sun tolerate New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri).
Fertilising Impatiens
The crowning glory of the remarkable New Guinea impatiens is their beautiful multi-coloured flowers. To promote more abundant and lively blooms, fertilise every two weeks with Searles Flourish Flowers & Foliage Soluble Plant Food.
After each flush of flowering, cut your plants back to promote a more compact shape and they will reward your efforts by producing even more flowers.
Pests & Diseases Impatiens
Few pests and diseases attack Impatiens. Problems to watch for are aphids (spray with pyrethrum, Searles Bug Beater, or hose off with a gentle spray), caterpillars (pick off by hand) and fungal disease, which show as small black spots on the foliage (spray with SeaMax Fish & Kelp). The ‘Beacon’ Impatiens series are bred to resist Downy mildew.

How To Grow Impatiens Plants

Impatiens flowers are bright and cheerful annuals that can light up any dark and shady part of your yard. Growing impatiens is quite easy, but there are a few things to know about impatiens care. Let’s take a look at how to plant and how to grow impatiens.

Planting Impatiens Flowers

Impatiens plants are normally purchased as well-rooted plants from the garden center. They can also be propagated from seeds or cuttings very easily. When you bring your annuals home from the store, make sure that you keep them well watered until you get them in the ground. They are very sensitive to lack of water and will wilt quickly if they lack water.

You can use impatiens flowers as bedding plants, border plants or in containers. They enjoy moist but well draining soil and partial to deep shade. They do not do as well in full sun, but if you would like to plant them in full sun, they will need to be acclimated to the harsher light. You can do this by exposing the impatiens plants to increasing amount of sunlight over the course of a week.

Once all danger of frost has passed, you can plant your impatiens out in your garden. To plant your impatiens flowers, gently squeeze the container that you bought them in to loosen the soil. Invert the pot in your hand and the impatiens plant should fall out easily. If it doesn’t, squeeze the pot again and check for roots that may be growing through the bottom. Excess roots growing through the bottom of the pot can be removed.

Place the impatiens plant in a hole that is at least as deep and wide as the rootball. The plant should sit at the same level in the ground as it did in the pot. Gently backfill the hole and water the impatiens plant thoroughly.

You can plant impatiens flowers quite close to one another, inches apart if you like. The closer they are planted together, the faster the plants will grow together to form a bank of lovely impatiens flowers.

How to Grow Impatiens

Once your impatiens are in the ground, they will need at least 2 inches of water a week if planted in the ground. If the temperatures rise above 85 F. (29 C.) they will need at least 4 inches per week. If the area where they are planted does not receive that much rainfall, you will need to water them yourself. Impatiens plants in containers will need watering daily and watered twice a day when temperatures rise above 85 F. (29 C.).

Impatiens flowers do best if fertilized regularly. Use water soluble fertilizer on your impatiens every two weeks through spring and summer. You can also use slow release fertilizer at the beginning of the spring season and once more half way through summer.

Impatiens do not need to be deadheaded. They self-clean their spent blooms and will bloom profusely all season long.

As the weather gets warmer and the Impatiens start blooming- many people get confused about the difference between regular impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens and where to plant each.

Here is a simple explanation. New Guinea Impatiens are a hybrid and they have been called “sun impatiens” because they tolerate more sun that the standard variety. However, they still do not like full sun all day. New Guineas are generally grown from cuttings and have larger leaves and larger blooms, up to 3 inches across. Their long, narrow leaves come in different shade of green, bronze, purple and some have variegated foliage. New Guineas branch well, are sturdy, and grow taller than standard impatiens. Most are 1 to 2 feet tall.

Standard impatiens are easy to grow and are generally smaller than New Guineas. They prefer shady areas and become carpeted mounds of color. They can become leggy over the summer, so it is good to pinch or scissor them back and they will flush back up again in a week or two. From partial shade to full shade, New Guinea Impatiens and standard Impatiens will give you an amazing show all summer long in a huge array of colors. They both love water so keep them moist but not soggy. Use well-drained soil and mulch the top of the soil around the plants to retain moisture. Fertilize often or use a slow-release fertilizer. Enjoy!!

New Guinea Impatiens

Brighten shady corners of your landscape with something besides traditional impatiens: Try New Guinea impatiens. This impatiens cousin opens beautiful, large flowers on plants with eye-catching foliage in shades of green, burgundy tints and variegated forms. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) is an easy-growing annual that isn’t demanding in terms of care.
Compared to traditional shade-loving impatiens, New Guinea impatiens offers several positive differences. First, the flowers are larger. You’ll find a similar wide variety of blossom shades in both types of impatiens; neither offers a strong sky blue. Yellow has been an elusive flower color in impatiens, but New Guinea impatiens brings that in the variety Vision Yellow. New Guinea impatiens flowers open in a host of dazzling hues, including orange, red, pink, white, purple and lavender.
Second, New Guinea impatiens tolerate more sun than traditional bedding impatiens. New Guineas grow in full or part shade. They thrive in a spot that receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade. In warmest zones where summers are hot and humid, New Guinea impatiens definitely benefit from light shade. Full sun can damage plants in those areas—unless you’re growing the sun-tolerant SunPatiens.
This hybrid New Guinea impatiens prefers full sun, but also grows in part shade. Plants can withstand morning or afternoon sun. In the Deep South, they can take full sun—all day, every day—as long as you tend to soil prep prior to planting. SunPatiens, like all New Guinea impatiens, needs a fertile, moisture-retentive, well-draining soil. That takes a little work.
In planting beds, work plenty of organic matter into soil prior to planting. You might consider mixing in a commercial bagged landscape mix. If your soil is heavy clay, raised beds may be in order. In containers, use a commercial container mix. Soil-less and most often peat-based, these mixes help New Guinea impatiens thrive in pots.
Incorporate slow release fertilizer into planting beds and pots where you’ll be growing New Guinea impatiens. These hearty bloomers are heavy feeders, and they benefit from a steady supply of nutrients. SunPatiens are lighter feeders than traditional New Guinea impatiens, but in the South expect to provide some supplemental feeding as the season wears on. SunPatiens plants flower from planting time until the end of the year—or until frost takes them out, whichever comes first.
Water is the other secret to growing beautiful New Guinea impatiens. These are not xeriscape plants. New Guinea impatiens need a steady supply of moisture. In the landscape, soaker hoses beneath mulch, or drip irrigation plus mulch, works best in warmest zones. In cooler northern areas, you won’t have to water as frequently. SunPatiens require daily watering in all regions, but the volume of water applied will be less in northern gardens.
The other advantage that New Guinea impatiens offer over traditional impatiens is that these bigger bloomers aren’t susceptible to downy mildew disease. Use New Guinea impatiens to brighten shade in areas where downy mildew has made growing impatiens impossible or unwise.

Mistakes To Avoid When Growing Impatiens

Impatiens can brighten the most mundane landscape with their colorful and long-lasting blooms. But they can just as easily shrivel up and die from neglect. Don’t let this happen in your garden. Here are some common mistakes that can be avoided with a good dose of regular attention.

Avoid Direct Sun

Nothing kills impatiens faster than direct sun exposure. These plants are not meant to bask in the intense heat that full sunlight delivers. Never plant them in an area that gets full sun. To grow to their absolute best, impatiens plants of every variety prefer shade to partial sun. If you can choose, go for the shady spot every time.

Lack of Water

Some gardeners dislike the fact that they have to keep an eye on the moisture level of impatiens. Impatiens is a plant that will wither and droop within hours without regular watering. If not immediately remedied, the plants will shrivel up, the stems will become desiccated, and the plants will die.

An occasional droop due to extreme heat or high wind causing loss of moisture can be overcome with a good and thorough watering, but don’t make it a habit of allowing the impatiens to dry out. This weakens the plant and causes it to produce spindly stems and less blooms. After all, the purpose of planting impatiens in the garden is to provide a constant supply of colorful blooms. Don’t sabotage its chances due to neglect of necessary watering.

Fungus versus Too Much Water

Sometimes impatiens look as if they’re melting, a condition the home gardener may believe to be lack of water. By applying more water, they’re actually contributing to the likelihood of fungus attacking the plant, if it’s not present already. First, check the soil with your finger to a depth of one inch. If it feels wet, stop watering. Apply a fungicide spray at the first sign of the disease as a control.

Over Feeding is Counter-productive

Just as the lack of adequate water is detrimental to the health of impatiens, so too is over feeding. All impatiens really need is a good dose of liquid fertilizer in early spring and again at the end of autumn. Don’t fall into the trap of fertilizing more often. In this case, more is not better. As for soil pH, impatiens like a 6.0 to 7.5 soil pH.

Not Planting Right Away

Often consumers will buy a flat or a few containers of impatiens, bring them home, and forget to plant them for a few days. This spells trouble for impatiens, since they’re already stressed being in containers. Chances are they’re not getting sufficient water either if they haven’t yet been planted. And, they may be root bound on top of it. If your impatiens are root-bound, untangle them gently with fingers or score them lightly with garden knife. Your best bet is to plant impatiens as soon as you them home.

Impatiens Can’t Tolerate Cold

Just because a nursery has plenty of impatiens plants, don’t be tempted to buy a bunch and bring them home if the weather isn’t yet warm enough. Impatiens simply won’t survive cold temperatures, so be sure overnight temperatures don’t dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Either be prepared for the impatiens to die or bring them indoors.

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