Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Middle South
June, 2001
Regional Report

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Add food and water, and you can grow impatiens in any shady spot.

Incredible Impatiens

So what if impatiens are common! I have never regretted adding a six pack or two of impatiens to my garden, because they simply can't be beat in providing color for the shade. Plus, they seem to be happy growing just about anywhere. I've grown them in everything from a hollowed-out tree stump to old boots, and they always put on a great flower show.

Modern Varieties

It's hard to believe that as recently as 1970, gardeners thought they were lucky to have eight impatiens colors to choose from. Today this top-selling bedding plant comes in more than 40 different colors and hues. That's quite a success story for a flower found growing wild in Mozambique only about 100 years ago.

My Best Impatiens

No other annual flower thrives in shade, sheds old blossoms cleanly, and blooms nonstop through the most sultry southern summers. Just don't ask me to name a favorite. I've grown many varieties over the years and have been happy with all of them. However, the past two summers I've been in love with the 'Swirl' hybrids. But don't tell the 'Elfin' hybrids under the oak tree I said so.

Heavy Drinkers

Impatiens do have one shortcoming. They have a drinking problem. Those succulent stems and flower petals demand a constant supply of moisture, and nature tends to turn off the rain supply in our region starting in early July. Never plant impatiens where you can't easily get water to them. Soaker hoses are great for impatiens in outdoor beds and containers. Of course, you can always make watering impatiens a daily ritual and keep the watering can handy.

Feeding Impatiens

You will also need to fertilize impatiens. As long as you're watering your plants, it's simple to add an all-purpose liquid plant food to satisfy their appetites. In my experience, impatiens in containers benefit from feeding every third watering. Plants growing in the ground are happy with a monthly dose of nutrients.

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