If you enjoy growing plants that bloom into beautiful flowers, you might have already grown impatiens in your garden. And if you have not yet, this is the time to pick up your gardening tools and grow some beautiful flowers.
What Are Impatiens?
Impatiens spp. is the scientific name for brightly flowering plants commonly known as Busy Lizzie or just impatiens. They belong to the family Balsaminaceae and the genus Impatiens—to which more than a thousand species of flowering plants belong.
They are found in the tropics and in the Northern Hemisphere widely as they prefer damp habitats. In Northern America, they are also known as jewelweed, touch-me-not, patience, and snapweed.
They get their name from the Latin word impatiens which means “impatient”. It is called impatient because of its nature. When ripe, their seed pods burst open even at the slightest touch—as if they were impatient. The seeds that spill out at the explosion can be used to grow new plants.
Impatiens varieties are usually annual or perennial herbaceous plants with succulent stems in most varieties and woody in very few. Interestingly, the flowers of impatiens are protandric—the male flowers age to become female flowers.
A plant grows up to 36 inches in height and 3 feet in width and blooms in spring and summer. Impatiens come in a variety of vivid and pastel colors—red, pink, violet, coral, purple, yellow, white, etc.
They can be grown in gardens or in pots and containers indoors. Most often, people get the plants from nurseries when they are nearing the flowering phase, and plant them in their gardens to make them bloom.
But you can also get seeds for any impatiens variety you like, and grow them from the seeds. Although it can seem like a difficult task, it is truly a very rewarding process to care for this plant and help it bloom beautifully.
Types of Impatiens
There are many types of impatiens you can choose to plant.
- Imara XDR: This is a disease-resistant series and has been available for purchase since 2019. They come in seven colors as well as color mixes.
- Beacon: This series is highly resistant to mildew and was introduced in 2020. They have many colors available.
- Celebration: This series is known for the range of colors of flowers they have.
- Bounce: This series has plants that are mildew resistant and can grow well in both sun and shade. It gets its name for being able to “bounce back” after wilting from hot weather.
- SunPatiens: Unusually large flower—up to 3 inches in width—is the characteristic of this series. The flowers are also known for their unique salmon shade.
When to Plant Impatiens?
To grow these plants from the seeds, you first need to know when to start impatiens seeds indoors.
These are ideal to plant in the late winter and spring. First, you need to find the last predicted frost of the season. You should plant your seed 6 to 10 weeks (about 2–3 months) before the last frost. Seeds take about three weeks to germinate.
How to Plant Impatiens?
To prevent transplantation shock to the roots of your plant, it is advisable to start your seeds in a biodegradable (or paper) peat so that you can directly plant that into the garden soil without harming the seedlings.
- Poke a couple of holes in each of the paper peats. Place the peats on a solid tray so that any soil or water leaking from the peats does not leak onto any surface you keep the sowed seeds on.
- Fill the paper peats with a seed-starting mix.
- Water the soil well and wait for an hour for it to drain. Wait for the soil to feel moist (and not soggy or wet).
- Place your seeds ½–¼ inches deep into the soil.
- Cover your tray with a plastic bag and poke a few holes in it to promote air circulation.
- Place the tray in a place that gets enough sunlight. Keep the tray in the sun for the entire day.
- If you do not have direct sunlight inside your house, you can use a grow light to give your seeds lights for at least 16 hours a day.
- Keep an eye on the seeds. As soon as the soil feels dry, spray it with water to make it stay moist. Make sure that the soil is not soggy.
- In about 21 days, the seeds should germinate. Once they have a pair of true leaves, remove the plastic cover.
- Take care of them until the last frost has passed. Only then transplant them into your garden.
Where to Plant Impatiens?
Once your seedlings are ready, you can transplant them into your garden. But before you transplant them into your garden, you should harden the seedlings to make sure they do not get stressed with the different climate of the outdoors.
The soil bed should be well-drained and enriched with organic material. Impatiens ask for frequent and heavy watering. If the soil is not well-draining, it will damage the roots.
Make sure the soil bed on which you plant your seedlings gets sufficient light and some shade too. It has been noticed that impatiens thrive in partial shade. They also grow very well in full shade without any complaints. Although, if you don’t harden them before planting, the leaves will get sunburned.
You can plant impatiens pretty close to one another (2–4 inches apart). Planting them closer ensures that the plants all grow together and make the flowers look like they are growing together. It is aesthetically pleasing this way.
After transplanting your seedlings into the garden, water them immediately. Impatiens require at least 2 inches of water in a week. If the temperature rises to be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, water the plant at least 4 inches in a week. If you’re growing your plants indoors in a pot, you should water it daily.
You should protect the seedlings from the cold at night for the first couple of weeks. Cover them with a plastic sheet (or anything similar) that will keep the chill off the young plants. This will make sure that your seedlings are ready to face the world.
To provide nutrition to the plant, apply a water-soluble fertilizer once every two weeks. Do this throughout spring and summer.
How to Deal with Pests and Diseases?
Impatiens are notorious for being prone to mildew. This caused different mildew-resistant variants to be created. Apart from this, they are also prone to fungal blights, rots, and viruses.
They are also prone to attacks by aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, slugs, snails, thrips, spider mites, etc. In cases of such attacks, you can manually remove the pests or hose them down with water.
You can also use an appropriate pesticide to remove pests. But if the infestation is bigger—because of pests or diseases—remove the infected plant from the garden and destroy it. Get disease-resistant varieties for safer and healthier growth.