New Guinea Impatiens: the Sun-tolerant Version of the Popular Bedding Plant

February 28, 2014 – 07:24 pm

Gardening pictureAs their name would indicate, New Guinea impatiens are native to the island of New Guinea, located north of Australia. New Guinea impatiens form compact, succulent plants with fleshy stems, and can reach heights of 1 to 2 feet tall by summer's end. Leaves are long and narrow, with distinctive points and serrated edges. Leaves may be green, bronze, or purple. Some newer varieties have stunningly variegated foliage that rivals the blooms in color! Flowers, growing up to 2 inches in diameter, are available in a range of colors, including white, pink, lavender, purple, orange, and red. I recently saw a variety on a garden walk in Bloomington, Illinois, that knocked my socks off! The label read "Painted Paradise Red, " and the foliage faded from dark green at the edges to creamy ivory in the center, with tinges of pink along the edges, and bright red veins.Impatiens wallerana the thumbnail image at the right.

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens x hawkeri) are distinctly different from the familiar bedding plant, elfin impatiens (Impatiens wallerana). In the picture of Impatiens wallerana to the left, notice the smaller, rounded leaves, compared to the longer, narrower leaves of the New Guinea impatiens in the other pictures. I have frequently grown whole flats of elfin impatiens from seed for my shadier areas. I even discovered that if I accidentally broke off the top of a plant, I had only to stick the stem in the ground, and it would root and form a new plant without any further interference on my part!

When I tried to locate seed for New Guinea impatiens, however, I came up empty. I learned that they are extremely difficult to grow from seed, with only a couple of varieties commercially available for seed.Image nly varieties of New Guinea impatiens seed readily available to the home gardener. Instead, the New Guinea impatiens available through your local nurseries and garden centers are propagated by rooting vegetative cuttings.

If you find them as bedding plants at your local nursery, you'll find that the difference in propagation methods is reflected in the price. Elfin impatiens can often be purchased quite cheaply, while New Guinea impatiens are more often sold as single plants, for a much higher price. I felt very lucky earlier this summer when I found a huge batch of healthy, well-cared for New Guinea impatiens that were originally $5 a plant, marked down to 50 cents each.

One key difference between the two varieties is the level of sunlight they can tolerate. Elfin impatiens require a good amount of shade, and provide vivid colors that stand out among paler counterparts in the shady garden. New Guinea impatiens, however, can take up to half a day of sunlight, and actually provide more color in both their blooms and their foliage if they receive at least partial sun. They tend to do better in less intense morning sun, and benefit from a little shade in the afternoon when the sun is most punishing.


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If you can buy/make a planter that

holds more soil. Also make sure it is more soil/dirt and potters soil (it will hold moisture better).
Use fertilizer as directed.
Plant flowers according to how direct the sunlight hits the planter.
New Guinea Impatiens take the sun/heat better.
Wax Begonias are great for heat.
Lobelia is a great fringe flower.
Here's some

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