The Q&A Archives: Saving and Sowing Impatiens Seeds

Question: For years, my family has grown impatiens that we purchase in flats. Every year the plants develop seed pods. Can save the seed and start my own seedlings the next spring?

Answer: Impatiens can be a little tricky, and time-consuming, to start from seeds. Here are some tips for success.

Because the seeds are ejected from the seedpods when ripe, tie a tiny bag over the seed head as it starts to mature. Once the seeds have been ejected, remove the bag. You can store the seeds in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a few months. However, small seeds like impatiens don't always store well for long periods.

Plan to sow the seeds about 12 weeks before your last frost date in the spring. Impatiens seeds will take anywhere from 7 to 30 days to germinate at temperatures of 70F -75F. Once germinated, they take 10 weeks or more to reach flowering stage.

The seeds need light, high humidity and warm temperatures to germinate. Sow impatiens seeds on the surface of moistened seed starting mix and barely press in with your hand. Cover trays with plastic wrap or clear greenhouse domes to help retain moisture, and place in a warm area such as on top of the refrigerator (or on greenhouse propagating mats). Remove the plastic as soon as the seeds sprout and place the seedlings under a source of artificial light. Water the seedlings from the bottom and provide good air circulation around the plants to help avoid damping-off disease.

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