Growing Impatiens Plants: Vibrant Colors For Shade, Pots and Borders

colorful impatiens in flower

It’s simple – growing impatiens flowers is easy.

That could be the reason why the value of impatiens for easy, continuous color in the shade is frequently disregarded or overlooked.

It may be from the confusion that has resulted from the various names attached to these tender annuals and perennials.

They are called:

  • busy lizzie
  • patient lacy
  • sultan’s balsam
  • sultana
  • glow-in-shadow

Beloved Impatiens Balsamina

The beloved, old-fashioned garden balsam, Impatiens balsamina, is quite different in character and in requirements, but belongs to the same family and sometimes gets involved in the general mix-up.

When you add the fact that impatiens plants are popularly known as bedding plants for outdoors, it is not surprising that they are sometimes forgotten as attractive, delightful, all-summer brighteners for pots in shade outdoors.
modern impatiens hybrids in the landscape

Because impatiens are so easy to grow from seeds, just as any annual, they can be grown in quantities to furnish intense, luminous color. The vibrant impatiens colors the flowers provide are seldom equalled in any bedding or pot plant.

Where and How To Plant Impatiens – Almost Anywhere

When planting impatiens plant, it ask nothing more than a reasonably fertile, humusy soil and plenty of moisture. They will bring a cheery look to dreary corners and under trees.

The uses for dwarf impatiens are limited only by the amount of shade your garden offers. They can be glowing edgings for path or borders.

They are pixie-cute, spraying color around gray rocks; beaming at the bases of evergreens; loveliest of all with ferns; perfection in window boxes and doorstep planters. In fact, it is difficult to think of any shady nook that is not made lovelier with impatiens!

Dwarf Impatiens

The dwarf impatiens do not exceed eight inches in height. They have a flat, spreading growth, each plant covering a foot or more of space. Each is a lovely bouquet of bright scarlet, brilliant orange-scarlet or luminous salmon-rose. A dark-foliaged dwarf that is stunningly contrasted by clear, sparkling orange flowers is one called ‘Orange Baby.’

If taller color is needed for shady areas, then Impatiens Sultanii and Impatiens Holstii varieties are excellent. These are perfect for bedding use with their attractive olive-green foliage, and thick, succulent stalks.

They are topped with bright, two-inch flowers that are gracefully spurred and may be scarlet, rose, pink or white in color. Impatiens Roylei is exquisite with jewel-toned flowers of lavender-purple. It truly deserves the name glow-in-shadow for its flowers have a radiance that is indescribably lovely in deep shade.

Growing Impatiens From Seeds

Impatiens are easy to grow from seeds. Sow on finely sifted soil, or on any of the starting mediums you may prefer – such as vermiculite or horticultural milled sphagnum. Press the seeds into the medium but do not cover them.

Keep the seeds moist at all times and in warmth (70 to 75 degrees). They require ten to 15 days to germinate and their progress is rapid.

In a short time they can be put into individual peat pots or into flats of loose, humusy soil to be grown on inside until frost danger is past. April-sown seeds will give plants in bud and bloom to set out by the first of June, although they will be unbranched.

Growing Impatiens As Potted Plants

Impatiens are excellent pot plants. If there is any question of tree-root interference in their prospective growing place, grow them in large pots.

Dwarf varieties are particularly useful this way, each in a five-inch pot sunk to its rim wherever color is needed. Any area that is not troubled by tree or shrub roots can be used for direct, in-the-ground planting of all impatiens.

A mulch will maintain moisture for them. They need no special care to go right on with their non-stop blossoming from the time they’re put out until frost.

Loves Liquid Food

Application of a mild dilution of a balanced fertilizer at three-week intervals keeps them at peak performance.

Rooting Impatiens From Cuttings


Three or four-inch tip cuttings root quickly when placed in water, or in a moist medium such as vermiculite or peat moss and sand.

It is possible, then, to keep impatiens from one season to another by taking tip cuttings in the fall and wintering them indoors. Or, they may be grown anew from seeds planted each year.

The value of these annuals for continuous, appealing color in places where most annuals give up sells them at once. If you are facing an old or a new shade problem, stop struggling — let impatiens do the work!

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