Annual or Perennial Impatiens - Knowledgebase Question

Los Angeles, CA
Avatar for vashti10
Question by vashti10
March 12, 2001
I moved to California several years ago but was not especially interested in flowers until I bought my own home. My question is: I have Impatiens growing in the front of my house. At one time they were growing profusely but now look to me like they are dying off. A friend said I could just cut them back and they would start growing again. Can I do this or do I need to dig them up and replant? I know I have a lot to learn yet and appreciate any help you can give me.

Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
A comment from Philipwonel
August 30, 2017
It's probably the excessive heat, we've been having.
Heat has been hard on alot of my plants. Even my New Zealand Spinach, that only gets a couple hours of morning sun. It's 90 percent gone. But like your vincas, they will come back when weather cools off.
I wouldn't cut your vincas, much, if at all.

Answer from NGA
March 12, 2001
Photo by Paul2032
There are both annual and perennial Impatiens.

The annual types are Impatiens balsamina. They grow to about 8" in height, are compact and bushy, and bloom in white, pink, rose, lilac and red. Annual plants grow, flower, and then set seed before dying. This is usually over the course of a single season. If your Impatiens are the annual kinds, you might get a second flush of blooms by cutting the plants back. Chances are, though, even in your mild winter climate, that the annuals are spent and should be replaced.

Perennial Impatiens are Impatiens wallerana. These plants can grow to 2', have dark green glossy leaves and 1"-2" flowers in scarlet, pink, rose, violet, orange or white. You can cut these plants back as close as 6" and new growth will emerge in a few days.

By cutting your impatiens back now you'll be able to tell whether they're annuals or perennials. Perennials will surge right back with new growth and flowers.

Avatar for robertjenkin
A comment from robertjenkin
August 26, 2017
New member Robert Jenkins writing from Tauranga New Zealand.
In our area and climate Impatiens flourish as annuals until cut down by winter frosts which seldom exceed minus 2 degrees centigrade. They seed freely far and wide in the spring to be selectively thinned for another season . In our fertile light soils they can become a nuisance .


Name: Sue Smith
Southern Oregon Coast (Zone 8b)
A comment from SueBee
August 27, 2017
I would cut them back. Living in LA, where fall can be very warm, you will probably get many more months of bloom. Hope they are in the shade, though. Good Luck

Name: Warren A. Whitworth

Avatar for nuyards
Answer from nuyards
August 30, 2017
Impatiens require a lot of shade or indirect light. As the season progresses, their water dependence is proportional to their size. By carefully pinching back some of them, waiting a week or two and pinching others back, you may be able to preserve them. Keep them well hydrated and fertilized.

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