Impatiens Plants: How to Grow and Care for Them

These plants are celebrated for their abundant, brightly-colored blooms

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By Alex

impatiens plants

Impatiens plants are renowned for their beauty, ease of cultivation, and widespread popularity among gardening enthusiasts who adorn their gardens and balconies with these vibrant blooms.

Let’s delve into the distinctive features of this colorful flowering plant and explore practical tips for its care.

The Genus Impatiens

The genus Impatiens encompasses a wide variety of flowering plants known for their vibrant and abundant blossoms.
Native to many regions around the world, these plants have become a favorite among gardeners for their striking colors and versatility.

Impatiens are annuals or perennials, and they are commonly chosen for their ability to thrive in shaded areas, making them ideal for gardens and balconies with limited sunlight.

Main varieties, besides Impatiens walleriana

The genus Impatiens boasts an impressive diversity, with approximately 500 known species that captivate gardeners around the world.

Among these, one of the most widespread and beloved varieties in temperate latitudes is Impatiens walleriana.

Commonly known as busy lizzie or impatiens, it is a popular annual flowering plant. Renowned for its vibrant blooms, it thrives in shaded areas, making it ideal for gardens and containers. With a bushy growth habit, it produces colorful, five-petaled flowers in shades of pink, red, orange, and white. Impatiens walleriana is prized for its long-lasting blooms throughout the growing season, providing a splash of color to landscapes. Known for its low maintenance and versatility, it has become a favorite choice for gardeners seeking an easy-to-grow, eye-catching plant for shaded environments.


However, the world of Impatiens extends beyond Impatiens walleriana, encompassing various other captivating species that add unique characteristics to floral displays. Here are some other popular Impatiens species:

Impatiens hawkeri (New Guinea Impatiens)

  • Known for its larger and more robust blooms compared to I. walleriana.
  • Comes in a wide range of colors, including shades of pink, orange, red, and white.
  • Thrives in partial shade and is more tolerant of sunlight than some other varieties.

Impatiens balsamina (Garden Balsam)

  • Features a more upright growth habit and distinctive spur-shaped flowers.
  • Comes in a variety of colors, and the flowers can be single or double.
  • Well-suited for borders and cottage-style gardens.

Impatiens niamniamensis (Parrot Plant or Congo Cockatoo)

  • Named for its unique, bird-like flowers with elongated petals.
  • Displays a fascinating mix of red, orange, and yellow hues.
  • Ideally grown in hanging baskets or containers to showcase its trailing nature.

Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not)

  • Native to North America, known for its orange trumpet-shaped flowers.
  • Has a unique method of seed dispersal, where the seed pods burst open when touched.
  • Often found in damp or woodland areas.

Impatiens sodenii (Busy Lizzie or Congo Cockatoo)

  • A species with glossy, dark green leaves and elegant, spurred flowers.
  • Typically grown as a houseplant or in sheltered outdoor areas.
  • Requires protection from frost and prefers a more controlled environment.

Impatiens textori (Vietnamese Balsam)

  • Features attractive, fringed petals and a cascading growth habit.
  • Native to Southeast Asia and thrives in tropical climates.
  • Ideal for hanging baskets or as ground cover in suitable climates.

Impatiens flanaganae (Flanagan’s Balsam)

  • A rare and lesser-known species with delicate lavender-pink flowers.
  • Native to Madagascar and often grown for its ornamental value.
  • Requires warm and humid conditions for optimal growth.

Impatiens and Periwinkle: differences

Impatiens are often confused with Vinca because of the similarity of the flower. However, it is a completely different plant.

While both Impatiens and periwinkle (Vinca) are commonly chosen for their vibrant blooms, they belong to distinct botanical families.

Impatiens are part of the Balsaminaceae family, known for their succulent stems and unique seed pods that burst open when touched, dispersing the seeds. Periwinkle, on the other hand, falls under the Apocynaceae family and is characterized by its trailing habit and glossy green leaves.

impatiens walleriana

Impatiens as a perennial plant

Although Impatiens are often cultivated as annuals, some species can be perennial in warmer climates. In frost-free regions, Impatiens may continue to thrive and bloom year-round, providing a reliable source of color for the garden. Understanding the specific species and its cold hardiness is crucial for those seeking a more extended blooming period.

The variety of Wallariana includes in turn two species, holstii and sultanii, both perennials in the wild. They are herbaceous plants with succulent stems that bloom from June to October with a generous production of scarlet flowers.

The hybrids obtained from these varieties have flowers of different colors ranging from white, orange, pink, red, lavender, purple to red and even bicolored.

Although they are perennials, grown in pots they must be treated as annuals because they are unlikely to flower again the following spring even if they overwinter indoors. In flower beds they bloom from April to October and then freeze with the coming of winter.

impatiens walleriana
Detail of an Impatiens Walleriana

How to grow and care for Impatiens

Impatiens require a few simple growing rules to live well, whether outdoors or indoors:

  • Soil: Impatiens, being discerning about their growing conditions, thrive in well-draining soil that is not only fertile but also enriched with organic matter. The inclusion of compost or well-rotted manure in the soil promotes a nutrient-rich environment, fostering healthy growth and prolific flowering. Maintaining a slightly acidic to neutral pH further enhances the overall well-being of Impatiens, ensuring they receive the appropriate balance of nutrients for vibrant blooms.
  • Exposure: Understanding the nuanced preferences of these plants when it comes to light exposure is key to their successful cultivation. Although these plants are known for their ability to tolerate partial shade, certain varieties exhibit resilience to more direct sunlight. In general, providing filtered sunlight or dappled shade is considered optimal, particularly in regions with warmer climates. This careful consideration of light exposure helps prevent stress on the plants and encourages a continuous display of colorful blossoms.
  • Potting: When cultivating them in containers, selecting a high-quality potting mix is paramount. The mix should not only offer aeration to the roots but also ensure efficient drainage. This choice is crucial to prevent waterlogging, which can be detrimental to the health of these plants. Incorporating materials like perlite or vermiculite into the potting mix aids in maintaining a well-balanced and aerated root environment. Additionally, regular repotting, especially as the plants grow, helps refresh the soil and provides ample space for root expansion.
  • Watering: Watering is a critical aspect of impatiens care, and maintaining the right moisture levels is vital for their well-being. The soil should be consistently kept moist, but it’s crucial to avoid waterlogged conditions. Regular watering is especially important during dry periods, ensuring that the plants receive adequate hydration for optimal growth and continuous flowering. Mulching around the base of the plants helps retain moisture, regulates soil temperature, and reduces the frequency of watering, contributing to the overall health of these plants. Adjusting the watering regimen based on climate conditions and the specific needs of the plants is essential for cultivating robust and flourishing impatiens.
  • Fertilization: from April to October, fertilize once a week with a specific liquid fertilizer for flowering plants.

Impatiens: pot cultivation

When considering pot cultivation, especially for expansive balconies or container gardens, the recommended approach is to initiate the growing process from seeds. Sow the seeds during the autumn or winter months, utilizing a lightweight substrate composed of peat and sand, ensuring it remains consistently moist.

As the warmer weather approaches, with nighttime temperatures exceeding 15°C, it becomes opportune to transfer the Impatiens outdoors or plant them directly in garden beds. Alternatively, propagation can also be achieved through cuttings.

Repotting Impatiens becomes necessary in the spring only if the roots have thoroughly occupied all the available space within the container, ensuring the plants have ample room for sustained growth and development.

The brightly-colored blooms of the Impatiens plants

When to plant Impatiens

The best time to plant impatiens depends on the climate of your region. In colder climates, it’s common to plant them after the last frost in spring. In warmer areas, where frost is not a concern, impatiens can be planted in early spring or fall. Ensuring a frost-free period and providing a favorable temperature range will promote successful establishment and prolific blooming.

By following these care tips, gardening enthusiasts can enjoy the beauty of Impatiens and enhance the charm of their outdoor spaces with these colorful and easy-to-grow flowering plants.

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