Busy Lizzie is the common name for impatiens and you can see why. They are the sort of plant that just knows what to do; no special treatment is required to get them to bloom. Simply plant them and leave them to it.
Many traditional types have required some protection from midday sun, but the newer hybrids thrive in full sun. This means impatiens can be enjoyed all around the house, planted on both sunny and darker sides.
The flower colours range from crisp clean whites through to numerous shades of lipstick pink, to rich magenta, sunset oranges, red, salmon and two toned as well. Single blooms are the most widely grown, however, the double hybrids are impressive.
Gently does it
Impatiens are not a big fan of frost and cold temperatures. So, in the warm regions get planting now, but, if you are in a cold pocket, maybe just sow your seeds, ready for planting out in November. Prepare the garden by blending in a little flower fertiliser or leftover tomato or strawberry food, avoid anything high in nitrogen. Seedlings will be everywhere soon. You will find seeds on stands in the shops and online through Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds from the middle of the month.
These showy annuals provide colourful carpets of colour that resemble a woven tapestry or Persian rug. Go crazy planting as many of these as you can fit in. Allow two hand spaces – 20cm – between each plant. These annual ones are the best for baskets and window boxes as they have low spreading growth habits and a shallow root systems. The bigger perennial ones are harder to manage in areas with limited root room.
A group of perennial impatiens, these are the ones to plant in a sunny spot. I have had these for a few years now and they certainly add some serious flower power to the garden. The trick to keeping them at their best is to make sure they are in a super large pot – twice the size of a kitchen bucket – as the root zone is a lot larger than you would imagine it to be. Keeping them in a smaller pot means they will need watering every day. I overwinter mine indoors, which is quite cool as they still poke out the odd bloom through the season.
NEW: SunPatiens Spreading ‘Pink Flash’
Nothing like a little flash to get the heart racing, and with this new impatiens it looks like it will please anyone who plants it. The pretty two-toned effect comes from a blend of salmon-pink darker petals with a series of soft shell-pink petals. The combination is eye-catching. Perennial impatiens are lovely in full sun. Use them to decorate your patio or entranceway, anywhere you want to make a statement. In winter, as mine are in pots, I sneak them inside, where they overwinter just fine.