Impatiens - Patience rewarded
Impatiens seem to be the most inappropriately named annual. So very little patience is required of these relatively hardy, quick growing, bountifully bloomed beauties. Their name is an anomaly many an avid annual gardener must ponder on as they enjoy the benefits of these bedding annuals; so useful in filling shady areas of the garden, massing up quickly to become a vibrant green low growing carpet of broad thin leaves spread wide to catch the light, enlivened further by an abundance of dainty flowers that seem to go on and on through summer as though they will never end.
In truth their name stems from the Latin impatiens meaning impatience, on account of the tendency of their seed pods to burst open at the lightest touch.
Adapting with ease to pots and hanging baskets and - where those flowering in the garden will have their show curtailed by winter's nip – pots taken indoors will happily continue bearing blooms unabated right though winter if well lit and out of the sun.
The latest low-growing, single, feature and double compact hybrids offer blooms of soft lavenders and violets all the way to the deep rich colours of ruby, lipstick, scarlet and salmon invoking the exotic richness of bygone eras and Impatiens’ origins in Zanzibar.
• Prep for well drained soil (Impatiens don't like wet feet)
• Add a bag of compost (two in sandy or clay soil is very sandy or has a lot of clay)
• Add a handful of 2:3:2 fertiliser/square metre.
• Fork over thoroughly to one spade’s depth (200mm) until soil is friable.
• Clean the bed of all other plant material that will compete for nutrients and moisture.
• Plant 20cm apart – 25 seedlings per m² for that great massed effect.
• Good mulch cover is always a bonus for water retention, keeping roots cool and improving the overall wellbeing of all bedding annuals.
• Do not allow the soil to dry out at all for the first few weeks, thereafter give a jolly good soak to root level twice a week.
• Remember trees form rain deflecting umbrellas. So check the moisture of your shade-loving Impatiens even after a decent storm.
• If planted in hanging baskets, immerse in a basin of water as needed.
Handy hints for optimising Impatiens
• Impatiens shine in light or partial shade, especially in hot areas.
• Cold winters areas, grow as annuals.
• In warmer regions cut right back at season's end. By second year they become straggly and are best replaced.
Information Supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. Contact Bronwen Tuck, chairperson 083 678 5907.