Impatiens are popular flowers that come in a variety of bright colors including orange, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. It is an annual flowering plant and it blooms in the summer and fall. It does well in the shade and it thrives in hardiness zones 10 and 11.
The name impatiens is a Latin word that means “impatient.” This name is fitting since when their seed pods are ripe, they can burst open and scatter their seeds quite suddenly as if they are impatient to do so.
Impatiens are one of the more popular flowers in North America because they tolerate shade well and they have long-lasting blooms in bright colors. People plant them as bedding plants, as border plants, or in containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes.
If you buy your Impatiens already rooted in a pot, make sure that you water them well until you plant them. They need more water than other plants and it is easy for them to dry out. They prefer partial to complete shade and they can really brighten up a shady area in the yard.
Planting: Impatiens should be planted after the last spring frost, normally around Memorial Day. They do tolerate partial shade but they need to be protected from wind. They do best in soil that is well drained with humus added. The soil needs to be moist with good drainage because this plant requires a lot of water, approximately two inches of water a week.
In addition, they can grow anywhere from six to thirty inches in height. When they are planted closer together, they will grow taller. You should space them according to the height you desire. If they are spaced eight to twelve inches apart, they will remain closer to the ground.
When you move your impatiens from the pot you bought them in, start by squeezing the container to loosen the soil inside. Then turn the pot over and the impatiens should fall right out. You can place it in a hole that is the same width and depth of the root ball. Water it completely once it is in the ground.
Watering: Impatiens need a lot of water so it is important to make sure that they are planted in spaces that drain well. They need to remain moist and they need to be watered regularly. In fact, they need around two inches of water each week. Plants bedded in containers will need more water than those planted in the ground. If you are in a geographical location that does not receive a lot of rainfall, you will need to make sure to water them yourself.
Heat and Cold: Impatiens can be sensitive to heat You will need to double the amount of water that they receive to four inches if the temperature rises above 85 degrees. Humidity is not a problem for this plant. In addition, they will not survive after the first frost. However, you can bring them indoors for the winter.
Fertilizing: Impatiens grow well with regular fertilizing. You can use a water-soluble fertilizer throughout the spring and summer months every other week or you can use a slow-release fertilizer when you plant them and then again in the middle of the summer.
How to Handle Potential Pests and Diseases
You will want to guard against the following pests and diseases:
1 – Spider Mites
You can get rid of spider mites by spraying your plant with very cold water, between thirty-two and forty degrees Fahrenheit. You can store a spray bottle in the fridge and spray your plants one to two times each day until the mites are completely gone.
2 – Downy Mildew
Downy mildew is a disease that causes your impatiens to lose their leaves and flowers. The remaining stem will then collapse. When it affects one plant, it will spread rapidly. It first appears as a white webbing on the leaves of the plant. If you see this on one of your plants, you need to remove it as soon as possible to prevent spreading.
This plant disease normally occurs in moist conditions with high temperatures and humidity. It can spread rapidly and destroy all of your impatiens. When you find the white growth on the leaves, you will know that the plant is infected. It is critical to remove and destroy all infected parts of the plant and you should not plant impatiens in the same bed.
3 – Flower Thrips
Flower thrips are tiny little insects that are also called thysanoptera or thunderflies and they can damage plants by sucking on them. They also transmit diseases. They can remain in the bark of plants over the winter and resume activities in the spring.
Thrips are very small and they resemble dark slivers on the plant. They can be black, brown, or yellow and they have small wings. They will likely fly away if you get near them.
They damage plants by creating streaks, white patches, or speckles. They do this because they suck the plant cells out of the plant. They also can spread a virus to your plants, which will cause further damage.
You can use sticky traps to try to control the population of thrips and you can also shake your plants to make them fall off onto these traps. You can prevent them from coming by adding some flowers that attract insects that are natural predators for thrips. Ladybugs, pirate bugs, or lacewings are all natural predators for this insect.
4 – Whiteflies
Whitefly is the common name for aleyrodidae. They are little white bugs that are very small. They are usually found in groups on the bottoms of leaves and they are active in the daytime. They usually arrive in mid to late summer.
Whiteflies suck the juices out of plants and they leave behind honeydew, which is sticky and can cause a fungus on the plants. When whiteflies attack plants, they become incapable of photosynthesis and they will wilt, turn pale, and die.
It is important to get rid of whiteflies as they will harm more than your impatiens. Start by spraying them with your hose, which will cause them to leave the leaves of the plant. You can coat the leaves with insecticides and repeat this several times.
If you prefer to use a homemade solution, you can mix dish soap with lemon and water and spray the leaves. Spray when there are cooler temperatures, such as later in the day for the best results. If the insects are still there, you can use a hand-held vacuum to remove them.
You can prevent them from coming by having beneficial insects such as ladybugs, spiders, and dragonflies present to control the whitefly population.
5 – Aphids
Aphids are little green bugs that multiply quickly and survive in nearly every zone. They are mostly green but can be white, yellow, gray, black, or brown. They can damage plants at all stages. In addition, they can leave plants more susceptible to mildew and other diseases.
You can use sticky traps to control the population and, as with other pests, beneficial insects such as ladybugs will help control them. You can use an insecticidal soap to kill them but this should be done early in the season before they get out of control.
6 – Botrytis (Gray Mold)
Botrytis, also known as gray mold, is a common disease found in bedding plants. It can spread quickly. Spots will appear that look water-soaked and they will change color from white to gray to brown.
You need to remove the diseased plants and destroy them. Try to stay away from watering from overhead or late in the day so that your plants have time to dry. In addition, make sure that you have air circulation. This mold thrives in very wet humid conditions with still air.
Types of Impatiens
Impatiens balsamina: This is a dwarf variety also called the Tom Thumb series and it has large flowers that come in bright colors. It is an annual plant.
Impatiens walleriana: This impatiens is called the Super Elfin Series and it is a spreading plant that comes in a huge variety of pastel colors. The second series in this species is called the Swirl series and this plant has pink and orange flowers outlined in red. This one is a perennial.
Impatiens hawkeri: Also called the New Guinea impatiens, this plant has larger flowers, a variety of colors, and can tolerate full sun.
Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida: Jewelweed and Touch-Me-Not respectively are the common names for this wildflower species of impatiens.
Impatiens are brightly colored flowers and many people enjoy having them as a part of their gardens. Because it tolerates shade well, it can brighten up the darkest corners of your yard. It does require a lot of water so make sure that you water it during periods where there is a lack of rainfall.