Wintering New Guinea Impatiens - Knowledgebase Question

Corning, NY
Question by wendyb6
November 6, 1998
I am looking for insight on caring for and keeping several large New Guinea Impatiens in three pots. I would specifically like to know what to do with the plants now that the winter season is upon us. Since these are tuberous plants, I'm not sure if I should cut them back or how to take care of them through the cold months to insure that I can enjoy them again next outdoor season.

Two pots stand about a foot high and the last is about half that size. I have 4 colors, red, salmon, pink and purple. The pink and purple have very red leaves and stems (if they are referred to as stems).

Answer from NGA
November 6, 1998


Since New Guinea Impatiens are tropical plants they are generally grown as summer annuals in cold climates. Often, by the end of the season they are somewhat "woody" and crowded in their pots. Rather than overwinter these big plants, some gardeners will take cuttings to propagate new ones for next year and then discard the "mother plants".  Other gardeners do bring their plants indoors for the winter. Some try to keep the plants healthy enough so that they bloom and look attractive, others simply wish to keep the plants alive so that they make take cuttings to start new plants next spring. Some do both.

These plants do best in partial shade outside, but inside they need a warm bright location.  Keep them evenly moist and fertilize weekly as long as they are actively growing. By next spring you will need to repot them into fresh soil and may wish to cut them back by about half to encourage fresh new growth. When the weather warms, gradually acclimate them to being outside and then move them there for the season.

If the plants seem to happy indoors but lag or  even wilt quickly,  they may need repotting into larger pots with fresh soil. Iit is more probable however that they will become "leggy" indicating they need more light than you can provide. If this happens, they will not bloom well for you and will look less attractive as their stay indoors continues.  If this happens, rather than devote space to keeping the large pots going, you may wish to take cuttings from the held over plants and discard the originals.

New Guinea Impatiens can be started quite easily from tip cuttings. To take cuttings, use 3 or 4" tip cuttings and place them in moistened vermiculite, perlite, or other light soil mix. Keep the humidity level high yet maintain air circulation by placing the pot in a plastic bag left open at the top or other similar method. Place in filtered light (not in direct sun). The plant will root fastest at warm room temperatures -- between 70 and 80 degrees.

Once the cuttings are rooted, gradually acclimate them to your growing conditions and move them into larger pots as needed.  By next spring you should have some nice new plants.

New Guinea Impatiens are lovely plants with wonderful foliage and blooms.  Based on your question I'm not certain you are actually asking about these plants because they are fibrous rooted rather than tuberous.  If by any chance you meant tuberous begonias (also fabulous plants!), the instructions would be quite different.   

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