Everything You Need to Know About New Guinea Impatiens
New Guinea Impatiens are similar to other varieties of impatiens in that they explode with colorful blooms during their growing season. However, unlike common impatiens, the New Guinea variety tend to have fewer (but much larger) flowers. They are also typically more sun tolerant than their shade-loving counterparts, making them a better choice for those areas of your yard that still see just a little bit of sun throughout the day.
Why You Should Plant New Guinea Impatiens
According to Justin Hancock, a Monrovia horticultural craftsman, New Guinea Impatiens have developed a good resistance to the disease downy mildew, something that has caused most growers to greatly reduce or eliminate the number of common impatiens they grow. But that's not the only benefit you will get when you plant them. "New Guinea Impatiens come in a wide range of colors, making it fun and easy to design your garden, landscape, [or] outdoor living spaces with them," Hancock says.
"You can use them by themselves in a large container or mixed with other shade-tolerant plants like Coleus, Caladium, and Begonia." New Guinea Impatiens will also work well as bedding plants in the landscape, which means you can fill a shaded border with them or layer them with other shade-loving plants in garden borders, like long-flowering companions Coral Bells, Astilbe, and Hosta. "They bloom in a wide range of colors, including pink, purple, orange, red, and white," he explains. "Because they flower nonstop until frost, New Guinea Impatiens ensure your shade garden can have as much color as a garden in the sun."
When and Where to Plant Them
You can plant New Guinea Impatiens anytime after frost is no longer expected in your region, according to Hancock, but you do not want to plant them too soon since they do not tolerate freezing temperatures. "Mid to late spring is the most common time to plant them, but you can plant them in summer, as well, if you're looking for more color or to replace a cool-season annual that's faded out." For best results, he suggests planting them in a spot that sees morning sun and afternoon shade. If you live in an area where summers stay on the cooler side, you can get away with a little more sun.
Don't Forget to Water Them
They like to be moist, but not wet, so don't let the soil stay wet and soggy for extended periods. "When they get dry, they wilt dramatically—but usually bounce back and look perky shortly after being watered again." Hancock recommends adding a layer of compost and then one to two inches of mulch after you've planted them in the ground. This will help keep them moist between watering.
These hybrids are not typically heavy feeders, according to Vernic Popat, the CFO of PlantOGram.com, but a good long-term, slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil at the time of planting, and applied as top feed twice a month should keep these beauties happy and thriving. She recommends Osmocote Plus ($25.12, amazon.com). "To get a lasting bloom sun and fertilizer play a big role in these plants, but I have to say these are a lot easier to care for."
No Muss, No Fuss
The ease at which these low maintenance flowers can be grown makes them a perfect choice for a lot of different gardens, according to Troy-Bilt's brand gardening expert, Erin Schanen, master gardener and creator of The Impatient Gardener. "The beauty of New Guinea impatiens is that they aren't fussy," she says. "If they get a little leggy they can be lightly trimmed to shape and they should quickly flush out new blooms." Just double-check the tag before you buy them as there are many varieties of New Guinea Impatiens on the market and they can vary dramatically in size.