The New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) is a popular, easy growing, low maintenance flowering plant. It was first made available to consumers in the early 1970s after being collected from the island of New Guinea and has since become one of the most popular specimens for both landscaped beds and containers. It is rated to USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 for outdoor growth, but can be kept indoors in virtually any climate.
Impatiens, generally, are extremely shade-tolerant plants known for intensely colored flowers, which holds true for the New Guinea impatiens variety. Indeed, the New Guinea features larger flowers than the standard impatiens (I. walleriana). New Guinea varieties of impatiens are available in a range of flower and foliage colors. The mature plants are a compact 12 to 24 inches. They are exceptional specimens for hanging baskets and window boxes, for edges and flower borders, and for massing beneath taller shrubs.
In contrast to the standard impatiens, the New Guinea variety is not easy to grow from seed. Rather, it is primarily propagated by vegetative cuttings. In most locations, the New Guinea impatiens is widely available in containers from garden centers. Look for compact, well-branched specimens with glossy leaves and profuse flower buds. Avoid leggy plants.
If repotting your New Guinea impatiens, use a pot at least one and one-half the diameter of its root ball. Use a commercial potting soil with coarse peat moss and some vermiculite and perlite. If you are placing your plants in flower beds, prepare the soil with 30 to 50 percent peat moss to provide adequate drainage. Water the plants deeply after putting them in the ground or the container.
New Guinea impatiens plants require shade in the afternoon. If exposed to full sun, they will be scorched, or worse. Ideally, they should have a little morning sun, with filtered or reflected light the remainder of the day. Water enough to maintain consistent moisture in the plant’s soil, but do not create a soggy environment. A monthly application of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer levels is recommended. Mix the fertilizer at the low end of the recommended dose.