All About Impatiens Flowers

By Susan Landis-Steward , last updated June 22, 2011

Impatiens, affectionately known as busy lizzie, are a variety of half hardy annuals usually grown as annuals in the garden The flowers are bright and love shade so this little plant can brighten any shady or dark part of your yard. They are easy to grow, come in a variety of colors, can be propagated easily from seeds or cuttings, and are self-cleaning. They have been a favorite of gardeners for generations. Impatiens are a low growing plant with flat open flowers in bright shades of pink, orange, white, red, and purple. Some will grow taller, but most stay low to the ground. They grow in USDA zones 3 to 10, and will winter over in zone 10. They bloom from spring until the first frost.

Although you can propagate your own, most folks buy impatiens in the spring as well rooted plants at nurseries or garden centers. If you buy plants, get them into the ground quickly or keep them watered until you have time to plant them. Impatiens are sensitive to lack of water and wilt quickly if they are allowed to dry out. Plant your impatiens in beds, borders, or in containers, and choose sites that get at least partial shade. They do not grow well in full sun. A mass planting of impatiens or pots of them looks great in a dark spot under larger trees or plants.

Amend your soil before planting with well rotted manure and try for a soil pH of 6 to 7. If planting seeds, sow them on the surface of the soil after the last frost. You can also start them indoors about 10 weeks before the frost free date. Sow the seeds in vermiculite and cover with a plastic bag to keep them moist. Only water from below as the seedling are susceptible to leaf rot. It will take one to four weeks for the seeds to germinate.

Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting impatiens in your garden. Carefully remove the plants from the container and set in a hole that is at least as deep and wide as the rootball. Set the plant at the same level in the ground as it was in the pot. Carefully backfill the hole and water thoroughly. Impatiens can be planted quite close together, forming an almost instant bank of lively flowers.

These thirsty little plants need at least two inches of water a week, and double that if the temperatures go above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If planted in containers, they will need to be watered daily. If temperatures go above 85 degrees, they will need twice daily watering. Fertilize your impatiens regularly. They are heavy bloomers so they need a lot of nutrients. Use slow release fertilizer in early spring and again half way through the summer. The rest of the time, give them water soluble fertilizer every two weeks through spring and summer. Always water well when fertilizing. Don't worry about deadheading your impatiens. They self clean and will bloom all season long. Impatiens get their name from the way the seed disperse impatiently if touched.

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