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The epitome of the shade garden plant, impatiens have been used for years for their bloom power and wide variety of colors. These tropical plants are blooming powerhouses and will fill a space with blossoms as long as there is no frost. They can bloom for a whole growing season, and they don’t even need maintenance, like deadheading, to keep up! More recently, many impatiens have become susceptible to downy mildew, a devastating fungal disease, so make sure to look for resistant varieties.

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Part Sun, Shade


1 to 3 feet


1 to 3 feet

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Colorful Combinations

Impatiens are great plants if you want loads of color with little effort. Most commonly, impatiens come in softer pastel shades, but some tropical species come in warm colors like yellow, coral, and orange as well. With their quick growth habit, impatiens are great fillers for both garden beds and containers. The soft color palette allows them to blend well with pretty much anything.

Impatiens Care Must-Knows

You might think there would be some catch with a plant this floriferous and easy to grow—but there isn't! An important thing to remember, however, is that impatiens are tropical plants. Once the first frost comes, your impatiens will turn to mush, so if you are planning on overwintering some indoors, make sure to bring in any pots or take any cuttings before the temperatures get too low.

When you are planting impatiens, give them rich, well-drained soils. In containers, any general-purpose potting media will do. In the ground, if you have heavy clays, it is best to add some organic matter like compost or peat moss to loosen it up and add nutrients. Impatiens are not very tolerant of drought, and during long dry spells the plants will quickly wilt. Luckily, they are very quick to bounce back once watered. So if you see an impatiens that looks beyond hope, give it some water and watch—in a very short time, its will look good as new.

There are a few things to watch for and to be aware of when growing impatiens. Recently, a major problem has been a nasty fungus called downy mildew. Downy mildew can be tricky to identify in the early stages. It typically begins by causing leaves to yellow and drop off or die. Eventually, this can become more dramatic, and portions of the leaves will erratically become brown and dead. You can identify downy mildew by finding their trademark downy white spores on the undersides of leaves. Downy mildew is a tricky disease to control, so the best way to avoid it is to choose resistant varieties when planting. If you do find powdery mildew, destroying the plants and any debris around the plants to prevent it from infecting any other plants is the best course of action.

New Innovations

Because of the devastating affects of downy mildew on such an important horticultural crop, there has been quite a bit of research on new hybrids. Many of these new hybrids are more similar to new guinea impatiens, which are not affected by powdery mildew. This has created some beautiful new cultivars, many of which boast the best of both worlds, including larger plants, more sun tolerance, and disease resistance. Be sure to look for these disease-resistant varieties as you shop for plants in the spring.

More Varieties of Impatiens

'Fanfare Orchid' impatiens

Impatiens 'Fanfare Orchid' trails to 20 inches and produces orchid-pink flowers. It has better sun tolerance than most varieties.

'Fiesta Burgundy' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Burgundy' bears beautiful burgundy-purple double flowers on 16-inch-tall plants.

'Fiesta Ole Peppermint' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Ole Peppermint' bears beautiful pink-and-white double flowers on compact, 12-inch-tall plants.

'Fiesta Ole Purple Stripe' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Ole Purple Stripe' bears purple-and-white double flowers all summer long. It grows 16 inches tall and 1 foot wide.

'Fiesta Pink Frost' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Pink Frost' features variegated foliage and pink double flowers all summer long. It grows 16 inches tall and 1 foot wide.

'Fiesta Purple' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Purple' bears beautiful purple-pink double flowers on 16-inch-tall plants.

'Fiesta Salsa Red' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Salsa Red' bears double rose-like flowers on 16-inch-tall plants.

'Fiesta Stardust Pink' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta Stardust Pink' bears pink double flowers stippled with white. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Fiesta White' double impatiens

Impatiens 'Fiesta White' shows off pure white double flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Fusion Glow' impatiens

Impatiens 'Fusion Glow' bears golden-yellow flowers with orange throats. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Fusion Heat Coral' impatiens

Impatiens 'Fusion Heat Coral' bears coral-orange flowers with yellow throats. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Fusion Infrared Apricot' impatiens

Impatiens 'Fusion Infrared Apricot' bears apricot-pink flowers with yellow-orange throats. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Fusion Sunset Peach' impatiens

Impatiens 'Fusion Sunset Peach' bears warm apricot-peach flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Pixie Pink Bicolor' mini impatiens

Impatiens 'Pixie Pink Bicolor' bears many small creamy-pink flowers splashed with darker pink on 12-inch-tall plants.

Sunpatiens Series impatiens

Impatiens Sunpatiens Series is an interspecific hybrid of impatiens that grows just as well in full sun as in full shade. With blooms closer in size to new guinea impatiens, these plants can quickly fill a garden bed or hanging basket in a wide variety of colors. Downy mildew resistant. Zones 10-11

'Super Elfin White' impatiens

Impatiens 'Super Elfin White' bears pure white flowers on compact, 10-inch-tall plants.

'Swirl Coral' impatiens

Impatiens 'Swirl Coral' bears soft salmon-pink blooms with darker coral-pink edges on 12-inch-tall plants.

'Swirl Pink' impatiens

Impatiens 'Swirl Pink' bears soft-pink blooms with deeper pink edges on 12-inch-tall plants.

'Tempo' impatiens

Impatiens 'Tempo' series bears flowers in a very wide range of shades on compact, 8-inch-tall plants.

'Xtreme Rose' impatiens

Impatiens 'Xtreme Rose' bears large, bright rosy-pink flowers on 12-inch-tall plants.


plant Impatiens With:

Browallia earns its nicknames of amethyst flower and sapphire flower for the richness of its small blue flowers, which pop out like jewels against the bright green of its foliage. A tidy mounding plant, it's great in containers or planted as edging in a neat row at the front of the border. Plant in a shady spot in spring after all danger of frost has passed. It likes rich soil high in organic matter, so add some compost at planting time. Keep well watered, and mulch to keep soil cool and moist. It may not flower in areas where summers are very cool. It may overwinter in the warmest regions (Zones 10-11), especially if covered with loose autumn leaves, straw, or any other light, airy winter mulch.
Talk about foolproof: Annual begonia is about as easy as it gets. It does well in a variety of conditions, but to keep it its most luxuriant best, give it light shade; rich, well-drained soil; and ample water. It also loves plenty of fertilizer, so be generous. Plant annual begonias in spring after all danger of frost has passed. No need to deadhead this flower unless you want to because it's "self-cleaning."
Wishbone flower
Tired of impatiens? Try the enchanting wishbone flower, also dubbed clown flower for its vividly marked flowers that are said to resemble the face of a clown. It's a wonderful, relatively new choice for shade. The flower shape resembles tiny snapdragons, with mouths opening wide and showing off delicate throats marked with a contrasting color. Torenia grows easily from seed sown indoors in pots or outdoors in the ground. This little clown flower blooms nonstop until frost.
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