The Q&A Archives: Stunted Impatiens

Question: My impatiens are planted around Pin Oak trees. Soil was turned over with mulched leaves from ash trees last fall and again this spring before planting. The leaves on the plants closest to the tree are "white washed" looking. Overall the plants are blooming minimally and growing slowly. I provide 1" of water per week. Neighbors are having good luck with their plants. What kind of fertilizer should I use? What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Impatiens are shade lovers and grow best in a moist but well drained soil. There are a number of reasons why your plants might be stunted, running from a lack of nutrients, to acidic soil pH, to having been root bound or otherwise stressed prior to planting. You might try a balanced fertilizer (5-5-5 or 10-10-10), either granular or water soluble, according to the label instructions, but first check the soil pH with a home test (sold in garden centers) or have the extension service (ph# 314/889-2911) send you a test kit. Good luck!

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