How to Grow Impatiens from Seed: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
Impatiens, commonly known as “busy lizzies”, are a burst of color in any garden. They are a popular choice among gardening enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and easy maintenance. Growing Impatiens from seeds might seem daunting, especially to beginners. However, with the right guidance and nurturing, it’s actually a straightforward and rewarding gardening project. In this article, we will guide you through the process, step by step, making sure you’re equipped with everything you need to know.
1. Starting Indoors: Why and How
The first step in growing Impatiens from seeds is to start the process indoors. Why? Impatiens are sensitive to cold and thus, should be started indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. This gives them a head start and ensures strong, healthy blooms when transplanted outdoors. Here’s how to do it:
Fill a seedling tray or small pots with sterile seed starting mix. sprinkle your Impatiens seeds over the top, lightly cover with soil and then water gently. Make sure to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Place the tray/pots in a warm, brightly lit (but not direct sunlight) location.
2. The Art of Watering
Watering is a key element in growing healthy Impatiens plants. For seeds and seedlings, the soil should stay consistently moist. It’s essential not to oversaturate the soil as it might lead to damping off, a disease that could cause the seedlings to rot and collapse.
Use a spray bottle to mist the seeds lightly with water, as a heavy stream from a watering can might displace or damage the seeds. For established plants, wait until the top inch of the soil starts to dry out before watering them again. In the hot, dry summer months, watering may be needed daily.
3. Light and Temperature Requirements
Impatiens seeds need light to germinate effectively. Therefore, ensure you place them in an area that receives good amount of light but avoid direct sunlight. Optimum temperatures for germination range between 70-75°F (21-24°C).
Once germinated and moved outside, they can tolerate a bit more shade, making them perfect for parts of the garden that don’t get constant sun. Remember, different Impatiens species may have slightly different light and temperature needs, so always check the specifics for the variety you have chosen.
4. Transplanting your Impatiens
When the threat of frost has passed and your seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves, you can start to harden off your plants. This process involves slowly acclimating your seedlings to outdoor conditions, by putting them outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend outside over a period of 7-10 days.
After hardening off, pick a shaded or semi-shaded area of your garden and plant your Impatiens about 8-12 inches apart. They prefer well-draining soil, so make sure your chosen area doesn’t pool with water after rain.
5. Ongoing Care and Maintenance
Once your Impatiens are established outdoors, continue to water them regularly. You can also apply a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to promote growth and blooms. Keep a lookout for pests and diseased foliage and remove them promptly to keep the plants healthy.
Deadhead spent blooms to encourage re-flowering. With a little care and attention, your Impatiens will bloom through spring and summer, providing a beautiful color to your garden area.
__Frequently Asked Questions__
Q1: How long do Impatiens seeds take to germinate?
A: Impatiens seeds take around 14-21 days to germinate. It can vary a bit based on the variety and conditions, including temperature, light, and humidity.
Q2: Do Impatiens need full sun?
A: No, Impatiens prefer shade or semi-shade. They can tolerate some morning sun but will fare poorly in full afternoon sun, especially in hotter climates.
Q3: Can I grow Impatiens indoors?
A: Yes. They do well as houseplants as long as they get the right light and watering conditions. Choose a bright, indirect sunlight location and keep the soil consistently moist.