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Wise Choices for the Novice Gardener: Impatiens

Aug 17, 2007
You have probably seen these low-growing plants in pots and beds as you make your travels around town. It's spelled impatiens, but most people pronounce it impatience. Whatever way you say it, this plant is a staple for many gardens. In fact, impatiens are the most popular bedding plant in the United States.

That's because impatiens are easy to grow. Available in a wide range of colors, impatiens come in pinks, purples, reds, oranges and white as well as some plants that have more than one color in its bloom. Impatiens will work in beds, in hanging baskets, window boxes and pots and will bloom from spring to the first frost. Impatiens are the ultimate in adding low-maintenance beauty to your yard.

In your garden center, you will typically buy a plastic pack of impatiens that contains four plants. When you get home, all you have to do is gently remove the plant from the pack and put it in a hole the size of the dirt that surrounds the roots. Novice gardeners often believe plants are more delicate than they are. Sometimes these plants will become attached via their roots. Don't worry - you can just separate them by gently pulling apart.

With all the colors available, you can create some striking color combinations using more than one color of impatiens. Experiment with different combinations, or try this technique. If you want a more natural look for a bed, remove all your impatiens plants from the packs, thus losing the little plastic stakes that come with them telling you what color you have. Then plant your impatiens at random. Mother Nature (and chance) will do a better job in making a beautiful bed that your trying to plant pink-pink-white, pink-pink-white, pink-pink-white.

Impatiens like to be moist, but not wet. Although impatiens will grow in sun and well as shade (some people like to plant them in a circular bed around the trunks of trees), plants in full sun will need more water. You need to keep your impatiens routinely watered, but don't despair if one day you walk outside and it looks like all of your impatiens have withered and died. If you water immediately and give your impatiens a good drink, they will miraculously revive within a few hours. Don't let this happen often.

Like your other garden plants, your impatiens will appreciate an occasional feeding, and your garden center can recommend what's best for your particular area. Don't overfeed them, though. These really are low-maintenance plants.

It's hard to go wrong with the lasting beauty of impatiens in your garden. With the variety of colors and varieties available, you can give your yard a different impatiens look every year.
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