Each year my impatiens grow very tall (over 2 feet) and are healthy, but they are not covered with flowers like those I see at other homes and even commercial plantings. How can I get my impatiens to grow lower and give me that “carpet of color” effect?
Impatiens are a good selection for shady spots for a number of reasons—the plants thrive in both beds and containers, plus they come in a wide range of flower colors including red, orange, salmon, rose, pink, white, violet, and lavender blue. New Guinea impatiens also offer exciting variations in leaf color.
With proper care, impatiens will fill your flower beds with color until frost. To ensure impatiens flourish, you need to do several things. First, plant impatiens in the right soil. The plants prefer well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. After preparing the soil, you are ready to plant.
Choose healthy transplants, free of disease and pests, from a local nursery or garden center. The common impatiens actually prefer shade. The New Guinea impatiens with variegated foliage will tolerate morning sun. Take this into consideration when you select plants. Space tall-growing varieties 18 inches apart and compact varieties 8 to 10 inches apart. The closer they are planted, the taller and leggier the plants grow.
Once plants are in their containers or beds, provide them with ample water. Impatiens need plenty of water during the hottest parts of the summer. Check plants regularly. You may need to water daily during hot weather. Plants under stress from insufficient water will not bloom as heavily as healthy plants. Use soaker or drip hoses in flower beds. These hoses put the water where it’s needed (the roots) and are more economical than overhead sprinkling.
Impatiens respond well to fertilizing. Applying a water soluble fertilizer once a week encourages foliage and flower development.
When the summer really begins to bake the garden, impatiens may look spindly and leggy with only tufts of foliage at the top of long stems. There’s an easy solution to that problem: Pinch or cut back stems to within three inches of the plant’s base. Impatiens have suppressed leaf buds along their stems. When you remove the upper growth, the plant responds by opening the suppressed buds. This pruning will encourage a new flush of growth and blooming for you to enjoy the rest of the season.