Impatiens Flowers: Impatiens Walleriana

Brighten shady nooks with America’s top bedding plant: Impatiens

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Busy Lizzie flowers

Photo by: muangsatun


Add some floral sizzle to your yard’s shady corners with the glowing blooms of impatiens. This annual beauty, known botanically as Impatiens walleriana, is one of the most recognized bedding plants on the market. It’s the go-to bloomer for shady color, and its easy growing ways makes it a favorite for low-maintenance beauty. 

Impatiens flowers open in nearly every shade imaginable. Blushing pink, snow white, dusky red, blazing orange, iridescent lavender, deep purple—the only colors missing from the impatiens roster are blue and yellow. You’ll also find a wonderful variety of bicolor flower types, including swirls, blends, picotees and dark shades with white eyes. The hardest part about growing impatiens is choosing which ones you want to grow. 

If you have containers to fill for a shady display, impatiens can easily handle the task. Whether you’re planting pots, window boxes, hanging baskets or a recycled wheelbarrow, you’ll find impatiens flower reliably and steadily all season long. Simply fill your containers with a commercial bagged soil-less mix. These mixes are usually peat moss-based, and they provide an ideal footing for impatiens plants. 

In planting beds, create a base that’s fertile, filled with organic matter and able to retain moisture, but also drain well. Impatiens like a moist but not soggy footing. Work organic matter into soil prior to planting. If your soil is poor, you might consider blending in a bagged landscape mix. In heavy clay, think about creating raised beds. 

Incorporate slow release fertilizer into containers and planting beds. Impatiens walleriana benefits from a steady supply of nutrients to stage its non-stop flower show. In pots, start using a water-soluble bloom booster fertilizer about four weeks after planting. This helps encourage flower buds to form. 

Impatiens doesn’t need deadheading. The name actually comes from the Latin word that means impatient. Horticulturists adopted it because mature seed pods on these bloomers pop open when touched. In fall, you might spot some green seed pods on plants. When they’re plump, a simple touch creates explosive results. It’s sure to cause some giggles for your favorite kids. 

Watch for Disease

There is one fly in the impatiens ointment: downy mildew disease. This deadly fungal disease kills plants and overwinters on plant debris. Once you have it, you shouldn’t plant impatiens in that same spot for several years. Symptoms include pale leaves and stunted growth. Leaves develop a white or gray fuzz on the undersides and eventually fall off plants, creating bare stems. It can wipe out an entire planting bed in a very short time frame. 

If you have infected plants, pull and bag them. Gather any fallen leaves. Spraying fungicides can slow the disease spread from infected to healthy plants, but once the fungus is in a plant, it moves throughout the entire plant. The only option is to pull plants, bag and destroy them. Avoid planting impatiens in the same place year after year. Change soil in containers and sterilize containers from year to year, especially if you have had downy mildew.

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