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Don’t let size fool you, the diminutive impatiens brings a great deal of beauty and grace to any garden. The shade loving annual is easy to take care of and can brighten up even the dreariest corners. In this article, we will examine how to plant and care for the impatiens.

About the Impatiens

A shade lover, the impatiens grows to a height of six to 24 inches. It is grown as an annual in most of the United States because it is so sensitive to cold. However, in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 10 to 11 the plants can survive for many years as perennials. When fully grown, the plant produces a very lush cover of green foliage that effectively chokes out weed growth. Across the top of the foliage, a bevy of cheerful blooms appear. 

Buying Impatiens

Visit any garden supply store or nursery and you are sure to find impatiens in every hue of the rainbow. The plants are typically sold as well-rooted specimens, but you can also buy seeds or cuttings on occasion. Many people enjoy starting impatiens from seed, but they do take care and patients. 

Bringing Your Impatiens Home 

When you bring your young plants home from the store be sure to keep them moist but not overly wet. Impatiens are water hungry little plants and will wilt fast if they dry out. Do not put them out in the sun or they will rapidly dry. Pick a shady location to store the plants until planting time. 

Choosing a Planting Site

You’ll want to pick a shady area of the garden to plant the impatiens. They look great as bedding plants, in containers, or borders. Choose a planting location that boasts well-draining soil. 

Planting Impatiens

Plant impatiens in the garden after all danger of frost has passed. They are extremely sensitive to cold weather and the slightest frost will quickly kill the small plants. 

  • Dig a small hole with a garden trowel. The hold should be at least as deep and wide as the plant’s root ball. 
  • Grasp the container holding the impatiens and gently squeeze it to loosen the soil. 
  • Tip the container so that the plant falls into your hand.
  • Gently loosen the soil around the roots taking great care not to damage the plant. 
  • Place the plant so the root system sits in the hole and gently fill the area with garden soil. 
  • Firm the soil around the plant.
  • Water the plant so it feels moist to the touch but not overly wet. Remember, impatiens prefers moist soil but nothing too soggy. 

Seeds of the Impatiens

As the flowers mature and undergo pollination, tiny fruits appear that explode to effectively disperse the plant's seeds. The seeds have a dust like quality and are very tiny. You do not have to worry about them overtaking your garden because Mother Nature has ensured that the seeds float far from the mother plant on the wind to reduce the likelihood of competition. Thankfully, this means your garden will not become overrun with impatiens. 


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