Impatiens can brighten the most mundane landscape with their colorful and long-lasting blooms. But they can just as easily shrivel up and die from neglect. Don't let this happen in your garden. Here are some common mistakes that can be avoided with a good dose of regular attention.
Avoid Direct Sun
Nothing kills impatiens faster than direct sun exposure. These plants are not meant to bask in the intense heat that full sunlight delivers. Never plant them in an area that gets full sun. To grow to their absolute best, impatiens plants of every variety prefer shade to partial sun. If you can choose, go for the shady spot every time.
Lack of Water
Some gardeners dislike the fact that they have to keep an eye on the moisture level of impatiens. Impatiens is a plant that will wither and droop within hours without regular watering. If not immediately remedied, the plants will shrivel up, the stems will become desiccated, and the plants will die.
An occasional droop due to extreme heat or high wind causing loss of moisture can be overcome with a good and thorough watering, but don’t make it a habit of allowing the impatiens to dry out. This weakens the plant and causes it to produce spindly stems and less blooms. After all, the purpose of planting impatiens in the garden is to provide a constant supply of colorful blooms. Don’t sabotage its chances due to neglect of necessary watering.
Fungus versus Too Much Water
Sometimes impatiens look as if they’re melting, a condition the home gardener may believe to be lack of water. By applying more water, they’re actually contributing to the likelihood of fungus attacking the plant, if it’s not present already. First, check the soil with your finger to a depth of one inch. If it feels wet, stop watering. Apply a fungicide spray at the first sign of the disease as a control.
Over Feeding is Counter-productive
Just as the lack of adequate water is detrimental to the health of impatiens, so too is over feeding. All impatiens really need is a good dose of liquid fertilizer in early spring and again at the end of autumn. Don’t fall into the trap of fertilizing more often. In this case, more is not better. As for soil pH, impatiens like a 6.0 to 7.5 soil pH.
Not Planting Right Away
Often consumers will buy a flat or a few containers of impatiens, bring them home, and forget to plant them for a few days. This spells trouble for impatiens, since they’re already stressed being in containers. Chances are they’re not getting sufficient water either if they haven’t yet been planted. And, they may be root bound on top of it. If your impatiens are root-bound, untangle them gently with fingers or score them lightly with garden knife. Your best bet is to plant impatiens as soon as you them home.
Impatiens Can’t Tolerate Cold
Just because a nursery has plenty of impatiens plants, don’t be tempted to buy a bunch and bring them home if the weather isn’t yet warm enough. Impatiens simply won’t survive cold temperatures, so be sure overnight temperatures don’t dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Either be prepared for the impatiens to die or bring them indoors.