Also called "Touch-me-nots" impatiens have so often been grabbed by gardeners in recent years that they are now the number one bedding plant in the US, dethroning the previous queen, the petunia. A favorite for beds and borders, "Snapweed" (another name for this modest, cheerful plant) also makes a cheery display in hanging baskets or container gardens on patio, porch, and in the home.
Hybridizing produced over a 1000 species
Recent hybridizing has produced dwarf plants with denser basal branching and resulted in a more compact plant with glossier foliage. Over a thousand species with single or double blooms in a range of 15 colors make impatiens an easy addition to any garden plan.
The top three Varieties
Impatiens is the genus of hundreds of species of plants in the Balsamineaceae family. However, of the many species, three remain at the top of popularity and are easiest to find at nurseries and garden centers.
I.balsamina, known as garden balsam or, simply, balsam was the first species to be a garden favorite, but I.wallerana the common garden impatiens (aka Busy Lizzie, Patient Lucy, Patience Plant and Sultana) is the queen of the realm today. A newer variety, the New Guinea impatiens, I.hawkeri is rapidly becoming a contender for the title of queen of the garden.
Half Hardy Annuals
Flats of six or more plants are typically quite inexpensive when purchased at garden centers and nurseries. Easy to grow, this half-hardy annual readily adapts to both sunny and shady locations in your garden. As long as you provide them with adequate moisture, impatiens will continue to increase in size and bloom from May to the first killing frost.
Although it's possible to grow impatiens from seed, the process of starting the seeds is more complex than it is with many other plants, in part because of the seed itself. One of the smallest of seeds, a half- teaspoon holds approximately 46,000 seeds.
It's possible to start the impatiens indoors
However, if you want a challenge, you can start impatiens indoors six to ten weeks before planting them outside. Press seeds into the surface of a sterile potting mix.
Taking care of the Seedlings
Make sure they stay on top of the surface though, since impatiens need about two days worth of light to germinate. Then they need darkness. Cover them lightly with potting soil and turn out the lights.
When the first plants emerge, move them back into the light. Germination takes about two weeks, so be patient with your impatiens!