Providing Winter Care For Impatiens

Although usually sold as an annual, impatiens is actually a tender perennial which does not tolerate frost. Some gardeners in areas where there is frost choose to grow this plant indoors, in a greenhouse or in containers. However, this doesn't allow for the beauty of carpets of impatiens in your garden. To keep your garden-grown impatiens for more than one season, follow these steps to protect them from frost and to keep them healthy through the winter.

  • Carefully dig up impatiens plants from the garden. Make sure you dig up all the roots and keep as much soil as possible around the roots. Don't dig them up in the heat of the day; early morning or evening is best.
  • Cut back the plant stems to 3 or 4 inches long.
  • Transplant your plants into clean, sterile containers with new commercial or homemade potting soil.
  • Fill each pot with soil, pat the soil down carefully and water thoroughly. Add more soil if it settles after watering.
  • Bring your transplanted plants indoors and place them near bright light: a window with southern exposure or a fluorescent light.
  • Continue to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Do not fertilize your overwintering plants.
  • When the outside air is warmer, trim back any winter growth and begin to fertilize. Transplant your plants outside after the last frost and continue their normal care.