The Q&A Archives: Impatiens

Question: What would make impatiens grow to its fullest ability?

Answer: Impatiens grow best in shady beds and perform best when they receive a constant supply of both water and nutrients. Growth is fast in warm weather--in fact so fast that impatiens can outgrow the size stated on their label by about one-third. It is essential that the soil contain plenty of organic matter to help it hold moisture because impatiens are fleshy and need lots of water. Cultivate the planting site at least 8 inches deep and mix in a 2-inch deep layer of flower planting mix, compost, or other type of organic matter. Also mix in a timed-release fertilizer with a high middle number, such as 11-40-6. The extra phosphorous will help the plants develop extensive roots.

Because impatiens must be watered often in warm weather, they benefit from additional fertilizer starting about six weeks after planting. In midsummer and again in early fall, fertilize your impatiens with a 17-17-17 timed-release fertilizer. Sprinkle this "booster feeding" onto the soil between the plants and water well. When growing impatiens in containers, fertilize them more often by sprinkling a teaspoon of fertilizer per plant atop the soil in the pots about once a month.

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