The Q&A Archives: Do Impatiens Self-Sow?

Question: Can I leave my annual impatiens to drop seeds that will grow new plants next spring?

Answer: Yes, if the flowers are allowed to dry into seedheads and then drop the seed. However, note that if your impatiens are hybrids, the seedlings may not produce plants identical to the parent. (A hybrid plant is produced by cross pollinating two different parent plants.) Hybrid plants are usually labeled as such on seed packets and in catalog descriptions.

You can also collect seed and sow it next spring. Let some flowers dry and "go to seed." As seeds begin to turn brown and fall off, hold a paper bag or container underneath and tap dry seeds into it. Or, tie paper bags over the flowerheads to catch falling seeds. Punch a few holes in the bag to provide circulation. Another way is to wait until about 10 percent of the seeds are brown and falling off. Then cut the entire flowerhead and stem, place it upside down in a paper bag, hang it in a cool, dry location and let the seeds separate on their own.

Collect seeds on dry, sunny days to avoid any excess moisture. If needed, dry seeds completely on sheets of newspaper for a week or so. Dispose of stems and leaves. A screen or colander works well to remove chaff. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, or in the refrigerator.

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