In the eyes of many gardeners, impatiens are the perfect garden plant. They thrive in partial to heavy shade. The plants are virtually pest-free and provide continuous bloom throughout the summer. They are suited for mass planting in beds, window boxes, containers, hanging baskets, and as indoor flowering plants. Flowers are available in white and a variety of pinks, reds, oranges, and purples. Some are bicolored or starred, others have eyes. Yellow and blue varieties are on the horizon. Impatiens foliage is a beautiful dark green. Some varieties have bronze foliage.
One of the most common series of impatiens is the Accent series. The plants in this series grow 6 to 8 inches tall. Their outstanding characteristics consist of early flowering, uniform growth, dwarf habit, and excellent garden performance. Accent impatiens are available in white and 19 colors.
The Super Elfin series is another popular impatiens series. Plants in this series grow to a height of 8 to 10 inches. The plants have a good branching habit and boast large flowers available in a wide variety of colors. They too perform well in the garden or used in containers and hanging baskets.
The Impulse series is available in 14 colors plus white. Their strong selling point is their uniform, "flat growing" habit. Impulse impatiens produce masses of large flowers on plants which grow 8 to 10 inches tall.
The Dazzler series offers large (2 inch) flowers with an impressive number of blooms. The plants grow 8 inches tall and produces abundant branches at the base of the plant. This eliminates the need to pinch the plants for bushiness. Dazzler impatiens perform well in containers and the garden.
If taller impatiens are desired, look for the Blitz series. The plants grow to a height of 16 inches. The flowers are also about 2 inches across. Additional impatiens series include Blitz 2000, Deco, Novette Star, Spotlight, and Tempo.
Double impatiens are becoming more popular each season. Their performance is best in pots or baskets rather than for bedding purposes. The Confection series grows 8 to 12 inches tall. The 1.5 to 2 inch flowers are semi- or fully double. They are smaller and more compact than previous double impatiens varieties. The Rosette series grows 18 to 20 inches tall. Flowers are double, semi-double, or single. Many gardeners refer to double impatiens as rosebud impatiens.
Impatiens are nearly pest-free, durable, and prolific in flower. It's no wonder they've become one of the most popular bedding plants available on the market today. Look for the varieties listed above at local garden centers and select those whose color and height match the needs of your garden plan. If the plants are too tall, pinching them back will encourage side branching and increased bloom within a few weeks.
This article originally appeared in the May 11, 1994 issue, p. 68.