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May Plant of the Month | Impatiens

Impatiens | Busy Lizzies

Impatiens, often better known as Busy Lizzies in British gardens, are cheerful plants that brighten up beds, borders and containers from late spring through the summer. They have simple green foliage and produce a profusion of vibrant flowers in pink, purple, orange, red and white. They are reasonably easy to grow, making them a favourite in the garden and our ‘Plant of the Month’ pick for May.


Impatiens Varieties

You can find two main varieties of Impatiens at Hillier Garden Centres; Impatiens walleriana and Impatiens hawkeri.

Impatiens Walleriana

Busy Lizzie

Impatiens walleriana ‘Orange Star’

Impatiens walleriana plants are the classic form of Busy Lizzie and one of the most popular bedding plants grown in UK gardens. The mass of bright, flat flowers makes them a fantastic plant for beds, as groundcover under trees and shrubs or spilling brightly out of containers on a patio or windowsill. They typically grow best in a partially shaded spot.

In 2019, we are introducing the Impatiens walleriana Imara® Series. This series is proven to be highly resistant to ‘downy mildew’, a disease that has historically affected these plants. Plants within this series are also excellent garden performers, reliably flowering all season long and resilient even in sunnier spots.

Flowering time: May to October (will survive until the first frost)

Sun Requirements: Partial shade or shade

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Hardiness: Not hardy

Size: Grows to 35cm height x 30cm spread


Impatiens hawkeri

New Guinea Busy Lizzie

Impatiens hawkeri is a sun-loving variety of impatiens that, as its common name suggests, is native to New Guinea and was discovered as recently as the 1970s. Much like Impatiens walleriana, they are low maintenance, compact plants that brighten up beds, borders and containers in a sunny spot. I. hawkeri plants benefit from larger, more showy flowers compared to their more elfin cousin and will grow a little bigger.

Flowering time: May to October (will survive until the first frost)

Sun Requirements: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Hardiness: Not hardy

Size: Grows to 45cm height x 25cm spread


Growing Guide

Growing Impatiens is reasonably easy.

Planting

Plant impatiens after all risk of frost has passed in spring. Make sure you keep them well-watered before planting. Impatiens perform best in moist, well-drained soil so you may want to mix in a good multi-purpose compost when planting to help them thrive.

The closer together you plant impatiens, the faster and taller the plants will grow. You may choose to plant them close together to quickly form a large mound. Or, if you are looking for more individual low-growing plants for your beds, for example, leave 8 inches or more between each plant.

Deadheading

Impatiens are self-cleaning, so do not need to be deadheaded – they will bloom all season long of their own accord.

Watering

Water regularly, particularly during dry spells and be sure to water at the roots. The best time to water is either early in the morning or in the evening.


Planting Ideas

Impatiens are a classic choice as a bedding plant. They are also fantastic underplanting trees or shrubs. Equally, their vibrant colour brings cheerful life to pots and containers.


Impatiens  Fact

The name ‘Impatiens’ originates from the Latin for impatience, because the ripe seed pods burst open forcibly when touched.