Create Your Garden

Impatiens: How to Grow and Care with Success

New Guinea Impatiens, Impatiens walleriana, Impatiens balsamina, Impatiens capensis

Impatiens, new guinea impatiens, impatiens flowers, impatiens walleriana, impatiens flower, impatiens balsamina, impatiens capensis, double impatiens

What are Impatiens?

Impatiens are a genus of flowering plants prized for their vibrant and colorful blooms. They are annuals, perennials, or subshrubs native to Africa, Asia, and North America. They are widely cultivated as ornamental plants in gardens, borders, containers, and hanging baskets due to their attractive foliage and prolific blooming habit. They are a versatile and low-maintenance option for adding color to shady or partially shaded areas of the garden.

Growth Habit: Impatiens typically have a bushy, compact growth habit, with some species having a more trailing or spreading nature. They are ideal for filling gaps in shady or partially shaded areas and providing a burst of color.

Size: They vary in size, with most species reaching between 6-36 inches in height (15-90 cm) and 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) in width.

Flowers: Flowers come in a wide range of colors, including pink, red, purple, white, and orange. Some varieties also have bicolored or patterned flowers. The blooms are usually spurred or flattened and can be single or double.

Blooming Season: Impatiens typically bloom from spring through fall, providing continuous color throughout the growing season.

Hardiness: Impatiens are generally considered tender plants, with most species being frost-sensitive. Most Impatiens varieties are suitable for USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, where they can be grown as perennials. In colder zones, they are typically grown as annuals and need to be replanted each year.

Uses: Impatiens are popular for their use in garden beds, borders, containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes. They are also often used as ground covers in shady areas.

Guide Information

Hardiness 7 - 11
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Impatiens
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Full Shade
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Hanging Baskets, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Impatiens ‘Divine Lavender’
Impatiens ‘Divine Pink’
Impatiens ‘Divine White’

Why Should I Grow Impatiens Flowers?

Growing Impatiens offers several benefits for gardeners:

Vibrant and continuous color: They provide a burst of color throughout the growing season, from spring to fall, with their vibrant and diverse flowers.

Shade-tolerant plants: Impatiens thrive in shady or partially shaded areas, making them an excellent choice for brightening up spots in the garden where other plants might struggle to grow.

Low maintenance: Impatiens are relatively easy to care for, requiring minimal maintenance once they are established. They only need regular watering and occasional fertilizing to flourish.

Versatile planting options: Impatiens are suitable for a variety of garden settings, including garden beds, borders, containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes. They can also be used as ground cover in shady areas.

Attract pollinators: The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, supporting the local ecosystem and promoting biodiversity in your garden.

Non-toxic: Impatiens are generally considered safe for humans and pets, making them a worry-free addition to your garden if you have children or animals around.

Wide variety: They come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes, allowing you to choose the perfect variety to complement your garden’s design.

Overall, Impatiens are an excellent choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of color and life to shady areas, with the added benefits of being low-maintenance, versatile, and attractive to pollinators.

Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Compact Blush Pink’
Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Compact Electric Orange’
Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Compact Orchid’

Impatiens Types

There are several main types of Impatiens that are popular for their colorful flowers and attractive foliage. Some of the most common types include:

Impatiens balsamina (Garden Balsam): The plant produces attractive, brightly colored flowers that can be single or double, in shades of pink, red, purple, and white. It is often grown in flower beds, borders, or containers.

Impatiens capensis (Orange Jewelweed): This is a North American native annual plant that reaches a height of 2 to 5 feet (60-150 cm) and produces orange, trumpet-shaped flowers with red or orange spots from mid-summer to early fall. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Impatiens niamniamensis (Parrot Impatiens): This unique variety has exotic, parrot-like flowers that are very distinctive. It is a tender perennial typically grown as a houseplant or in a greenhouse.

Impatiens walleriana (Busy Lizzie or Balsam): This is the most common type of Impatiens and comes in a wide range of colors, including pink, red, white, and purple. It is a shade-loving plant and works well in containers or as a bedding plant.

New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri): These are larger than the common Impatiens and have striking flowers and foliage. They can tolerate more sun than the traditional varieties but still prefer partial shade. They are excellent for container gardening and mixed borders.

SunPatiens (Impatiens hybrid): A hybrid between traditional Impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens, SunPatiens can tolerate both sun and heat better than other types. They come in various vibrant colors and are great for borders, containers, and mass plantings.

These are just a few of the many Impatiens varieties available. Choose the ones that best suit your garden’s conditions and enjoy their colorful blooms throughout the growing season.

Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Compact Pink Candy’
Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Spreading Pink Flash’
Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Spreading Variegated White’

When to Plant Impatiens

  • Impatiens are typically planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. In most regions, this is around late April to early May, depending on your local climate.
  • You can start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date to give the plants a head start and transplant them outdoors when temperatures are consistently above 50°F (10°C) at night.

Where to Plant Impatiens

  • Sunlight: Impatiens thrive in partial shade, making them ideal for planting under trees or in areas that receive dappled sunlight. Some varieties can also tolerate full shade, while others can handle a bit more sun exposure, especially in cooler climates. However, avoid planting them in full sun, as this can scorch their leaves and cause the plants to wilt.
  • Soil: Impatiens prefer well-draining, nutrient-rich soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (between 6.0 and 6.5). Amend the planting area with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and drainage.
  • Water: They thrive in moist conditions, so areas near water features or in low spots where water tends to collect can be suitable.

How to Plant Impatiens

  • Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil to a depth of 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) and mixing in compost or other organic matter to improve soil fertility and drainage.
  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the plant or the size of the seedling container.
  • Gently remove the plant from its container, being careful not to damage the roots. If you started seeds indoors, transplant them into the prepared holes.
  • Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
  • Water the newly planted Impatiens thoroughly and keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first few weeks as they establish themselves. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
  • Space Impatiens plants 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) apart, depending on the variety, to allow for proper air circulation and growth.

Once established, Impatiens require minimal maintenance and will reward you with continuous blooms throughout the growing season.

Impatiens arguta (Toothed Busy Lizzie)
Impatiens balsamina (Garden Balsam)
Impatiens capensis (Orange Jewelweed)

Impatiens Care

Caring for Impatiens is relatively easy, as they are low-maintenance plants that can provide a burst of color in your garden, especially in shaded areas. Here are some essential care tips:

  • Watering: Impatiens require consistently moist soil, so be sure to water them regularly. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy, as both overwatering and underwatering can cause problems. Water the plants early in the day to allow the foliage to dry before nighttime, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Fertilizing: Feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. This will encourage healthy growth and more abundant blooms. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application rates.
  • Deadheading: Although deadheading is not necessary for all varieties, it can help promote more blooms and maintain a tidy appearance. Remove spent flowers as they fade to encourage new growth and prevent seed formation.
  • Overwintering: Impatiens are typically grown as annuals, but you can bring potted plants indoors during winter to enjoy them as houseplants. Keep them in a well-lit, cool location and maintain proper care for best results.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your Impatiens remain healthy and continue to provide vibrant color in your garden throughout the growing season.

Impatiens niamniamensis (Parrot Plant)
Impatiens pallida (Yellow Jewelweed)
Impatiens sodenii (Poor Man’s Rhododendron)

Landscaping with Impatiens

Landscaping with Impatiens can add a splash of color and texture to shaded areas of your garden. These versatile plants are perfect for creating a lush, vibrant display in various garden settings. Here are some ideas for incorporating them into your landscape:

Border plantings: Use Impatiens to create colorful borders along garden pathways, sidewalks, or the edges of flower beds. Their low-growing, mounding habit makes them an ideal choice for defining spaces and adding visual interest at ground level.

Containers and hanging baskets: Impatiens thrive in containers, making them perfect for adding color to patios, decks, and balconies. Plant them in decorative pots or hanging baskets to create a colorful, cascading display.

Mass plantings: For a dramatic impact, plant Impatiens en masse in large, shaded garden beds or under trees. The consistent color and texture they provide can create a stunning visual effect, especially when combined with contrasting foliage plants like ferns or hostas.

Woodland gardens: Impatiens are well-suited to woodland garden settings, where they can be planted among other shade-loving plants like bleeding hearts, astilbes, or coral bells. Their bright flowers will add a pop of color to the dappled shade beneath trees.

Accent plantings: Use Impatiens as accent plants to highlight specific features in your garden, such as a statue, birdbath, or bench. Their eye-catching blooms will draw attention to the focal point and create a pleasing visual balance.

Mixed plantings: Combine Impatiens with other shade-loving annuals and perennials for a diverse, layered look. Mixing different colors, textures, and heights can create an interesting and dynamic garden display.

To ensure success when landscaping with Impatiens, remember to provide them with the right growing conditions. Choose a location with partial to full shade, well-draining soil, and consistent moisture. With proper care, they will reward you with a season-long display of vibrant, colorful blooms.

Impatiens Companion Plants

When selecting companion plants for Impatiens, consider plants that thrive in similar growing conditions, such as partial to full shade and consistently moist soil. Here are some excellent companion plants for Impatiens:

Ferns: Various fern species add texture and a sense of lushness to the garden, complementing the colorful blooms of Impatiens.

Hostas: With their striking foliage, hostas are a great choice for adding contrast and interest to your shade garden. Their large, attractive leaves pair well with the delicate flowers of Impatiens.

Coleus: Coleus plants are known for their stunning, colorful foliage. They can provide a striking contrast to the bright blooms of Impatiens and thrive in similar growing conditions.

Heuchera (Coral Bells): Heuchera offers a variety of foliage colors and textures that can complement and contrast with Impatiens. The delicate, bell-shaped flowers of Heuchera add an extra layer of visual interest.

Astilbe: Astilbe’s feathery plumes in shades of pink, red, white, or purple make an excellent companion to the bold blooms of Impatiens. Both plants appreciate moist, well-draining soil.

Begonias: Like Impatiens, begonias are shade-loving plants with attractive blooms. They can be paired with Impatiens to create a colorful, vibrant display in shaded garden areas.

Lamium (Dead Nettle): Lamium’s variegated foliage provides a striking contrast to the bright flowers of Impatiens, and its ground-covering habit helps to suppress weeds.

Fuchsia: Fuchsia plants, with their unique, pendulous flowers, can be an eye-catching companion for Impatiens in containers or hanging baskets.

Lobelia: Lobelia’s delicate flowers and mounding habit make it an excellent companion for Impatiens, especially in containers or along borders.

Hydrangea: The large, showy flowers of hydrangeas pair well with Impatiens and can create a stunning visual impact in a partially shaded garden.

By choosing compatible companion plants for Impatiens, you can create an attractive, cohesive garden display with a variety of colors, textures, and shapes that thrive in similar growing conditions.

Impatiens omeiana (Hardy Impatiens)
Impatiens tinctoria (Dyers Busy Lizzie)
Impatiens walleriana ‘Rockapulco Appleblossom’

How to Propagate

Impatiens can be propagated through two primary methods: from seeds or from stem cuttings. Here’s a step-by-step guide for each method:

Propagating Impatiens from Seeds

  • Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area.
  • Fill seed trays or small pots with a sterile seed-starting mix, and moisten the mix.
  • Sow the Impatiens seeds on the surface of the soil, gently pressing them in. Impatiens seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover them with soil.
  • Cover the trays or pots with a clear plastic dome or plastic wrap to maintain humidity.
  • Place the trays or pots in a warm, well-lit location, with temperatures around 70-75°F (21-24°C). Use a grow light if necessary to provide adequate light.
  • Keep the seed-starting mix consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Impatiens seeds should germinate within 10-20 days. Remove the plastic covering once seedlings emerge.
  • Transplant seedlings into individual pots once they have at least two sets of true leaves.
  • Harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for 1-2 weeks before transplanting them into the garden after the danger of frost has passed.

Propagating Impatiens from Stem Cuttings

  • Choose healthy, disease-free Impatiens plants, and take 3-4 inch (7.5-10 cm) long stem cuttings from their tips. Make sure each cutting has at least two sets of leaves.
  • Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting, and dip the cut end in rooting hormone (optional, but it can help stimulate root development).
  • Fill small pots with a well-draining, sterile potting mix, and moisten the mix.
  • Make a hole in the potting mix with a pencil or your finger, and insert the cut end of the stem cutting into the hole. Firm the soil around the cutting to ensure good contact.
  • Water the cutting gently to settle the soil around it.
  • Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or place it in a humidity dome to maintain humidity.
  • Place the pot in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Roots should develop within 3-4 weeks. Check for root development by gently tugging on the cutting; if it resists, roots have formed. i. Remove the plastic covering, and let the cutting grow for another week or two. Transplant the rooted cutting into a larger pot or into the garden once it has established a strong root system.

Whichever method you choose, make sure to provide the appropriate growing conditions for your new Impatiens plants to ensure their success.

Impatiens walleriana ‘Rockapulco Rose’
Impatiens walleriana ‘Rockapulco White’
Impatiens walleriana ‘Rockapulco Wisteria’

Pests and Diseases

Impatiens can be affected by several pests and diseases:

Aphids: These tiny insects suck sap from the plant, leading to distorted leaves, stunted growth, and the spread of viruses. You can control aphids by releasing beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, or by using insecticidal soap.

Spider mites: These tiny mites can cause yellowing and stippling on leaves, eventually leading to leaf drop. Control spider mites with insecticidal soap or neem oil, and maintain proper watering to reduce stress on the plant.

Whiteflies: These small, white insects can cause yellowing and curling of leaves, as well as transmit viruses. Manage whiteflies with insecticidal soap, yellow sticky traps, or biological control agents like parasitic wasps.

Downy mildew: This fungal disease causes the yellowing of leaves, followed by white, downy growth on the undersides. It can lead to defoliation and even plant death. Prevent downy mildew by ensuring proper air circulation, watering at the base of the plant, and applying fungicides if necessary.

Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as white, powdery growth on leaves and can cause distortion and leaf drop. Manage powdery mildew by providing good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and applying fungicides if needed.

Root rot: Overwatering or poorly draining soils can cause root rot, leading to yellowing, wilting, and plant death. Ensure proper drainage and avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.

Botrytis blight: This fungal disease can cause gray mold on leaves, flowers, and stems, eventually leading to plant collapse. To prevent botrytis blight, maintain good air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and remove any infected plant material.

Regular monitoring and prompt action can help minimize the impact of pests and diseases on your plants. Maintaining healthy growing conditions is the best defense against these issues.

Click here to compare all Impatiens varieties

Frequently Asked Questions

Does impatiens come back every year?

Most impatiens are annuals, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season and do not come back the following year. However, some perennial varieties, like New Guinea impatiens, can come back year after year if grown in suitable climates (usually USDA zones 10 and 11).

How do you keep impatiens blooming?

To keep impatiens blooming, ensure they receive proper care, including consistent moisture (but not overwatering), well-draining soil, and a balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied according to package instructions. Additionally, pinching back the tips of the plants can encourage bushier growth and more blooms.

Why are impatiens called Touch Me Nots?

Impatiens are sometimes called “Touch Me Nots” because their seed pods have a unique characteristic: when they mature, they burst open upon touch, sending seeds flying in all directions. This is a natural dispersal mechanism for the plant to spread its seeds.

Can impatiens get too much sun?

Impatiens can get too much sun, particularly in hot climates. Most impatiens prefer partial shade or filtered sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day. Too much direct sun can cause the plants to wilt, scorch, or suffer from reduced blooming. However, New Guinea impatiens can tolerate more sun than the common impatiens, but they still appreciate some shade during the hottest hours.

Compare All Impatiens
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Guides with
Impatiens
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 7 - 11
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Impatiens
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Full Shade
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Hanging Baskets, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Impatiens
Compare Now
Guides with
Impatiens

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