Comparing New Guinea Impatiens with Standard Impatiens

New Guinea impatiens are a type of impatiens, a popular garden annual. The impatien's prolific summer blooms come in colors of white, pink, red, salmon, coral, mauve, violet and shades in between. You can find newer varieties in orange or yellow and also double-bloom.

Impatiens are easy to grow and make excellent plants for containers, landscape beds, patios, window boxes, borders, planters or just about anywhere in your garden. Impatien plantings are often used by gardeners to brighten up shady areas.

Standard Impatiens

You can usually find standard impatiens in the spring in any garden center. They are generally smaller but have more flowers on each plant than New Guinea impatiens. Standards are easy to grow from seed.

Standard impatiens can grow from 8 to 24 inches in height and width. They provide carpeted mounds of color. They can become leggy, so pinch back tips to promote bushiness and encourage branching. Different varieties can grow to different heights: low, medium and tall.

Read the labels carefully at the garden center. If you want mounds, pick the lower-growing varieties. If you want to interplant them with other plants of varied heights, choose them according to size. Follow the basic care guidelines to yield good results.

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea impatiens are a hybrid that has been around since the 1970s. They are called "sun impatiens" because they tolerate more sun than the standard variety. However, they still do not like full sun all day. 

New Guinea impatiens have larger leaves and larger blooms, up to 3 inches across, than standard impatiens. Their long, narrow leaves come in green, bronze or purple, and some have variegated foliage. They often have burgundy stems. Some gardeners consider New Guinea impatiens a more beautiful or distinctive plant than the standard, due to the larger flowers and variegated leaves.

New Guinea impatiens branch well; their branches fill out the plant, so it does not need pinching back like standard impatiens. New Guinea impatiens grow taller and more upright than standard impatiens. Most are 1 to 2 feet tall.

New Guinea impatiens are easy to grow from cuttings. As with standards, follow the basic care guidelines for success.

Basic Care Guidelines for Impatiens

Impatiens prefers shade to part shade; they don't do well in full, direct sun. Too much sun leads to smaller plants, smaller flowers and shorter stems. But impatiens need the right amoung of sun to bloom. Filtered, bright light with morning sun and afternoon shade is best. With the right light, impatiens will bloom continuously during summer. 

Impatiens also love water. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Use well-drained soil and mulch the top of the soil around the plants to retain moisture. Due to frequent watering, impatiens need regular feeding to replace nutrients in the soil. Fertilize often or use a slow-release fertilizer.

Impatiens are usually considered an annual, as they die in frost. However, they are really a tender perennial that can survive if protected during the winter. Whether you choose standard impatiens, New Guinea impatiens or a combination for your garden, these easy-care plants will provide color and texture for your shady areas.