Enjoy the new and improved touch-me-not

a cluster of pink flowers
New and Improved Impatiens Hybrids – SunPatiens®

Impatiens are known by many names including “touch-me-not” and “busy lizzie”.  However, almost everyone knows that impatiens are common bedding annuals that bring seasonal color and easy care.  While once known to be used exclusively in partly shaded/shaded areas, newer types of impatiens tolerate more sun – some types even grow in Florida year-round taking the heat and humidity in stride.

Our old-fashioned impatiens took a hit a few years ago when downy mildew devastated them with this blight.  Fast forward to the present and not only do we have downy mildew resistant varieties thanks to breeders, but also New Guinea impatiens known for their downy mildew resistance, and also SunPatiens® hybrids that do not get downy mildew and love full sun, hot temperatures, and humid weather.  As a group, impatiens do best from October through April as a flowering bedding or container plant.   The more traditional newer downy mildew resistant varieties will do best in part-shade to shade sites.  These bedding plants easily brighten up a shaded area with a multitude of colors in red, orange, pink, and white. New Guinea impatiens do best during this season in our area with morning sun and afternoon shade the preferred environment, although they can tolerate more sun than your traditional impatiens.  Although some cultivars have colorful foliage, they will not flower during the heat of summer.  Crucial to all impatiens is moist, but well-drained soil.  Proper moisture levels can even help some types of impatiens tolerate more sun.

Perhaps the biggest innovation in recent years has been the SunPatiens® hybrids from Japan.  SunPatiens® were developed by crossing New Guinea impatiens and wild impatiens.  As noted earlier, they flower year-round in Florida being very tolerant of heat and humidity – good news for gardeners nurturing flowering bedding plants during our brutal summers.  With these attributes comes downy mildew resistance making them bullet-proof against this disease as well.  Sufficient watering is still key to success with this type of impatiens. SunPatiens® can actually be grown as a perennial in our area and prefer full sun – in fact, avoid fully shaded sites if possible.

Every problem bring opportunities and impatiens are certainly examples.  All of the impatiens mentioned are readily available at all garden centers and nurseries.  The color, the variety and now the improvements made to impatiens make them versatile and usefully ornamental to our local landscapes.  For more information on all types of bedding plants suitable for area, or to ask a question, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov. Connect with us on social media. Like us on Facebook @CharlotteCountyExtension and follow us on Instagram @ifascharco.

Gilman E. F. &Howe, T.  (1999) Impatiens wallerana.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Tancig,  M. (2017) Impatiens for Sun and Shade.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Leon County
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions (2017) Impatiens. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions (2017) Powdery Mildew vs Downy Mildew.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
McCormick, K. (2020) Questions from The Plant Clinic: The Return of Impatiens.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Seminole County.
Schubert, T. (2012) Downy Mildew of Impatiens walleriana caused by Plasmopara obducens. FDACS.
North Carolina Extension Plant Toolbox (2024) Impatiens x hybrida SunPatiens® N.C. Cooperative Extension.
Missouri Botanical Garden (2024) Impatiens hawkeri. https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b665.
Bachman,  G. R.  (2024) Plan garden for SunPatiens and New Guinea impatiens. Mississippi State University Extension.


ralph mitchell
Posted: March 20, 2024

Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: Flowering, Gardening, Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens

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