New Guinea Impatiens, also known as Impatiens hawkeri, is a hybrid of several species of Impatiens native to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The plant is typically grown as a perennial but in the Upstate we enjoy Impatiens as annuals. These impatiens offer a tropical flair to gardens with their luscious foliage and vibrant, jewel-toned flowers. New Guinea Impatiens are known for their sun tolerance, making them a versatile choice for various garden settings, from shady spots to areas with partial sunlight.
How To Grow New Guinea Impatiens
- Sunlight: New Guinea Impatiens thrive in locations with filtered sunlight or partial shade. While they can tolerate some morning sun, they prefer protection from the harsh afternoon sun.
- Soil: Plant them in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Amending the soil with compost before planting enhances its fertility and moisture retention, providing an ideal environment for these tropical plants.
- Watering: New Guinea Impatiens prefer consistently moist soil. Water them regularly, especially during dry periods, to moisten the soil. Water at the base of the plant to prevent fungal issues, and consider mulching around the plants to retain soil moisture.
- Fertilizing Routine: Feed New Guinea Impatiens regularly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Begin fertilizing when the plants are established, typically after a few weeks of growth.
- Pruning and Deadheading: Regular pruning and deadheading help maintain the shape and encourage continuous blooming of New Guinea Impatiens. Pinch off the tips of the plants to promote bushier growth, and remove spent flowers to redirect energy towards producing new blooms.
- Pest and Disease Management: While New Guinea Impatiens are generally resistant to common pests, occasional issues like aphids or spider mites may arise. Ensure good air circulation around the plants to minimize the risk of fungal diseases. Proper watering practices, avoiding overhead irrigation, and providing adequate spacing between plants can contribute to a healthier, disease-resistant garden.
Leaves and Flowers
The foliage of New Guinea Impatiens is a visual delight, characterized by large, lush leaves that showcase various shades of green, bronze, or variegated patterns. The leaves are typically ovate or lance-shaped with serrated edges, creating an attractive and textured appearance. The glossy surface of the leaves adds to their appeal, contributing to the plant’s overall lush and tropical look. The foliage serves as an excellent backdrop for the vibrant flowers and adds a touch of elegance to garden beds, hanging baskets, and container gardens.
New Guinea Impatiens are renowned for their profusion of large, showy flowers that come in captivating colors. The blossoms exhibit shades of pink, lavender, orange, red, and white, creating a stunning visual display. The flowers have a unique butterfly-like shape, with five petals that may have a contrasting throat color. Their impressive size and vibrant hues make them stand out in garden beds or containers, adding a tropical touch to outdoor spaces. New Guinea Impatiens bloom continuously throughout the growing season, providing a long-lasting and colorful show that attracts both gardeners and pollinators alike.
Uses in the Garden
- Striking Displays: New Guinea Impatiens are widely cherished for creating striking ornamental displays in gardens. Their large, vibrant flowers in an array of captivating colors, including shades of pink, orange, and lavender, add a pop of visual interest to garden beds, borders, and containers. Their impressive blooms, often measuring up to three inches in diameter, make them a focal point in any landscape design.
- Shade Gardens and Partial Sun Areas: One of the remarkable features of New Guinea Impatiens is their ability to thrive in partial shade to filtered sunlight. This makes them an excellent choice for gardens with shaded areas where other flowering plants might struggle. Their tolerance for less direct sunlight expands the possibilities for gardeners, allowing them to introduce vibrant colors and lush foliage to spaces that may receive limited sunlight.
- Container Gardening and Hanging Baskets: New Guinea Impatiens’ compact and mounding growth habit makes them well-suited for container gardening. They can be easily potted in containers, hanging baskets, or window boxes, adding color and elegance to balconies, patios, or any small outdoor space.
- Low-Maintenance Landscaping: Gardeners appreciate New Guinea Impatiens for their low-maintenance nature, making them a favorite choice for those seeking vibrant blooms without excessive care requirements. These plants are relatively disease-resistant and have fewer issues with common impatiens problems, such as downy mildew. Their adaptability to various soil conditions, coupled with their ability to thrive in less-than-ideal sunlight, makes them accessible for both novice and experienced gardeners looking to create colorful and hassle-free landscapes.
Are New Guinea Impatiens Perennials?
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) are typically grown as annuals in most regions, including the SC Upstate. They are sensitive to frost and cooler temperatures and usually do not survive the winter in colder climates.
Can New Guinea Impatiens Take Full Sun?
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) are known for tolerating more sunlight than traditional impatiens. While they prefer partial shade to filtered sunlight, they can generally handle some morning sun or dappled light. However, providing them with full sun for extended periods, especially in hot and intense afternoon sunlight, may lead to stress and potential damage to the plants. Monitor your plants for signs of stress, such as wilting or leaf burn, and adjust their placement accordingly.
Is New Guinea Impatiens Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) is not typically classified as highly toxic to cats and dogs. While they are generally considered non-toxic, ingesting any plant material may cause mild gastrointestinal upset in pets. You may observe symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, or mild stomach discomfort if a pet consumes New Guinea Impatiens. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any unusual behavior or if symptoms persist.