Impatiens is not a plant for the touchy-feely types. The nickname, touch-me-not, refers to the fact that when the mature seed capsules are touched ever so lightly, they will “explode” and send seeds flying through the air as far as 20 ft from the plant!
Impatiens can also be called “Busy Lizzy” because the plant is a prolific bloomer, producing bright, colourful flowers from early summer to fall. Flowers come in assorted solid colours including, red, orange, pink, white and violet; they can be single, semi-double and double blooms. The double blooms look like miniature roses.
It is a genus of about 850-100 species of flowering plants native to Africa. In the wild, they can be found in roadside ditches and river banks. The leaves are thick, shiny and feel somewhat greasy.
Impatiens plants are available in garden centers in the early spring. The most widely grown plants are shorter than the ones found in the wild and don’t grow more than a 1ft tall. They are shade loving plants and do best in moist, fertile soil. Water regularly to keep soil moist, but not soggy. Impatiens tend to wilt quickly if allowed to dry out. Impatiens planted under a tree will require more watering and fertilizer than those planted by themselves.
While many of the plants are treated as annuals, some varieties will self-seed and produce new plants the following year. These colourful, long lasting flowers can be grown in flower pots, hanging baskets, garden beds, and window boxes. They can be planted indoors and outdoors. Be sure to deadhead wilted blooms to encourage new growth.
Fun Flower Facts about Impatiens
- the name impatiens comes means impatient in Latin, because the seed pods can be so impatient to open up
- During the course of its life, the impatiens undergoes a sex change! When the flower first opens, it is male; when the the pollen shell sheds, the flower becomes female!
- jewelweed, a type of impatiens, contains anti-inflammatory and fungicide properties, and is often used as a herbal remedy for bee stings, insects bites and skin rashes
- impatiens are considered toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea
- some varieties of impatiens can be used as a dye for Henna and hair colouring
- in ancient China, impatiens petals were mixed with roses, orchids and alum to make nail polish
- Mimosa Pudica, the plant that likes to play dead when touched (funflowerfacts.com)