Impatiens Can‘t Wait

These most popular of annuals begin blooming almost as soon as you plant them and never let up.

Steve Bender

To beginning gardeners, planting impatiens can be a great confidence builder. Inexpensive transplants set out in spring and early summer grow to be knee-high mounds of showy flowers in a rainbow of colors by summer’s end.

Just as important, impatiens make excellent container plants. Placed in pots, they can brighten an entrance, deck, or patio. Set out white impatiens around these high-traffic areas where they may be enjoyed during the day; at night, their flowers will glow like little stars. Try impatiens in window boxes and hanging baskets, where they’ll cascade over the edges in brilliant waves.

Made for Shade
Known as shade lovers, traditional impatiens can take some sun when given enough water. Their stems are liquid-filled vessels, and plants wilt when low on water, making it easy to tell when they need a drink. Maintaining evenly moist soil at all times is key to keeping plants happy and stress free.

Better for Sun
For nonstop color in a sunny garden, try the New Guinea Hybrid impatiens that tolerate bright light. Unlike the traditional kind, they’re grown more for their colorful foliage than their flowers. Large, lance-shaped leaves may be bronze, purple, or green and splashed with cream, white, yellow, or red. Their flowers are nothing to sneeze at, however. They’re larger than those of their cousins (up to 2½ inches wide) and come in many striking colors. But plants don’t bloom as heavily, especially during very hot stretches in summer.

Helpful Hint

  • Traditional impatiens often grow tall and leggy by midsummer. If yours do, pinch them back by 4 or 5 inches. Plants quickly respond with a new flush of growth and are more compact and covered with blooms that can take you to the first frost.
  •  What they like: Shade or partial shade, moist soil. Feed every two weeks with a 20-20-20 fertilizer.


"Impatiens Can‘t Wait" is from the Southern Living's Container Gardening.