Impatiens are reliable shade garden favorites that are hardy in most zones across the nation. Petite, multi-colored and proficient bloomers, these annual flowers are equally at home when planted in-ground under the canopy of shade trees or when planted in containers on the front porch or when grown as indoor houseplants. Impatiens are rapid growers and will quickly fill in hanging baskets, containers or bare spots in a flower bed.
This popular flower boasts a variety of names: Impatiens (both the common and botanical name), sultana, patient Lucy, Busy Lizzie, balsam, and patience plant.
Bloom Time and Colors
The small plant is an over-achiever and will bloom from early summer until the first killing frost of fall. Bloom colors span the color wheel gamut and range from single shades of red, pink orange, yellow, purple, lavender and white. Plants that produce bicolor and striped flowers are also available.
Most impatiens varieties remain a small compact size of between 6-8 inches tall, but some varieties can reach a mature height of close to 2 feet. Flowers are born on the stem tops and are cup-shaped in either single or double petals. The color, nectar-producing flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds.
Select a planting location that is either in full or partial shade for most of the day. Work compost or well-rotted cow manure into the soil prior to planting flowers. When all danger of frost has past, set out impatiens seedlings 4-6 inches apart and planted at the same depth as they were in their bedding cup.
Impatiens can be started from seeds, either indoors 12 weeks before the last frost or sown directly into containers or outdoor flower beds after all danger of frost has past.
Impatiens are highly sensitive to cold weather and will not tolerate even a hint of cold.
Once planted, impatiens need very little care. These diminutive flowering plants do not even need to be deadheaded like most other flowers, they will naturally discard their own spent flowers and keep producing new blooms.
The more water and fertilize you give impatiens, the bigger they will grow. Even dwarf varieties will reach a ‘normal’ size when fed a steady diet of water soluble plant food during the growing season. If impatiens become leggy, cut them back to 3 inches tall.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac