Impatiens or Busy Lizzie
(Balsaminaceae - Balsam Family or Touch-Me-Not Family)
- small- to medium-sized herbaceous annual
- maturing individually at 6" to 12" tall with a similar width, but often used in mass plantings where the height of the mound may reach 1.5'
- upright mounding growth habit
- partial shade to full shade (when planted in full sun to partial sun, it must be constantly irrigated and mulched to prevent wilting, decline, and death)
- prefers a cool, moist, rich, well-drained soil that is amended with organic matter, but is rather adaptable to soils of average fertility; however, it suffers greatly under periods of drought and intense heat
- propagated primarily by seeds
- Balsam Family, with slugs being the primary pest affecting foliage quality, and damping off during seedling growth being the primary disease
- abundantly available in flats, hanging baskets, or seed packets
- alternate (upper leaves may be opposite), ovate to broad elliptic, dull shiny, with crenate margins and succulent petioles
- leaves are usually medium green, but sometimes dark green or reddish green, and with variegated forms also becoming increasingly available
- foliage dies back with the first frost
- solid petal colors of white, orange, salmon, red, pink, violet, and all shades in between
- bicolored flowering forms and double flowering forms are not common, but are also available
- floral buds are usually nodding, while the opened flowers face upward with the petals held horizontally
- the solitary or compound floral placement can be terminal or axillary
- ornamentally inconspicuous and sparse, but noted for their ability to explosively shed seeds if touched or held briefly between two fingers (and logically belonging to the Touch-Me-Not Family)
- herbaceous stems and petioles are succulent
- most modern cultivar series are bred for abundant basal branching that discourages leggy growth, which may flop over during heavy winds and rains
- ID Summary
- common annual with succulent stems, nodding floral buds, and wide horizontal petals that occur in a broad range of cool and warm colors
- borders, edgings, foundations, mass plantings, planters, window boxes, or hanging baskets
- often used in mass plantings of mixed floral colors
- medium texture
- thick density
- one of the few annuals that thrives in partial shade to full shade
- many floral colors
- dense and constant flowering
- looks attractive in either solid or mixed color mass plantings
- very sensitive to late frosts in Spring and early frosts in Autumn, with its once succulent stems becoming slimy with the first hard freeze
- may decline or die out during Summer drought periods
- often wilts during the daily heat of Summer (even in shade) unless it is kept evenly moist
- native to Eastern Africa
- annual that is effectively killed by light frosts
- herbaceous plants for partially to fully shaded sites (Coleus for annuals; Liriope spicata, Hosta cultivars, Pulmonaria species, etc. for perennials; Hedera helix, Lysimachia nummularia, Vinca minor, etc. for groundcovers)
- herbaceous plants with a wide variety of floral colors (Antirrhinum majus, Cosmos species, Petunia x hybrida, etc.)
- many series and cultivars exist, primarily based upon floral color, dwarf habit, and basal branching, but also based upon bronzed or variegated foliage, double flowers or bicolored flowers, or relative sun and drought tolerance
- Impatiens translates as "impatient", referring to the quick and explosive release of seeds from the fruit pods if they are touched.
- wallerana (sometimes spelled walleriana) is named after Horace Waller, a 19th century missionary to Central Africa where Impatiens is native.
- Impatiens is a profusely flowering annual ideally suited for shady sites.
- Impatiens wallerana is America's most popular annual for shady sites, with a wide range of warm, cool, and pastel floral colors that adorn its showy, flat-petaled flowers.
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