The Q&A Archives: Plant Identification

Question: Hi, I was given a flowering plant by a friend, and I am trying to figure out what it is so I can take proper care of it. I am hoping you can help me identify it. I wish I could send you a photo, but I don't have a digital camera. My friend said it was an Oriental impatients, but near as I can tell, no such plant exists. It doesn't look like any impatients plant I've seen anyway. My friend thought maybe a poor mans orchid, but the leaves and the blooms don't look like that to me either. The blooms are sort of like a fuchsia a snapdragon. They are lavender fading to white or pale pink. It has dark green leaves that are slightly serrated along the edges, and they are rather larger and tear drop shaped. It has a really big thick stock that is hollow in the middle, and it is red and green on the stock. Almost looks like bamboo or really thick rhubarb. It gets quite tall. My friend has a couple that are over 6 ft. tall. Mine is about 3 1/2 to 4 ft. tall. I hope you can help me identify exactly what this is. I look forward to your response. Yours Truly, Rochelle D. LaFayette

Answer: The plant you describe sounds like Impatiens balsamina, also called Poor Man's Rhododendron or touch-me-not (because ripe seeds will shoot quite a distance from the plant). Balsams can be easily grown in evenly moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to half shade. The seeds can be sown directly in the garden and it will sprout in one to two weeks or they can be started indoors in small pots to stall full growth and make them more compact and for earlier blooms. The plants may self-seed in the garden. Most literature describes these plants as annuals but I have seen them grow to huge proportions in the Port Orchard and Silverdale areas so I expect the one you've seen at 6' is perfectly normal.

Best wishes with your new plant!

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