Impatiens: Greenhouse Plants
W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
The sort of ‘Busy Lizzie’ that everybody used to keep that has pale pink flowers and a rather straggly habit is a species called Impatiens walleriana from tropical East Asia. It has two different variegated forms, one with pink flowers and the other orange. There are many hybrids with different coloured flowers including some very pretty doubles and some with flowers like rosebuds. Most of the favourite hybrids are much more compact than the original I. walleriana. Many of these are raised by seed annually and used as bedding plants. They can be lifted, cut back and grown in the warm greenhouse during the colder parts of the year. I was never a great fan of Impatiens hybrids until the New Guinea hybrids were developed following a plant collecting expedition to that country. These are something special being mostly compact and extremely vibrant with brightly, often colourfully variegated foliage and often huge flowers. They have the advantage of being very easy to propagate and almost as easy as the old ‘Busy Lizzie’ to grow, perhaps needing just a little bit more warmth. My real favourites will always be the other species, but like all the really interesting greenhouse plants they are difficult to come by. I. Repens is a trailing plant which surprisingly has bright yellow flowers. A well-grown specimen of this covered in flowers is a cheerful sight. The leaves and stems have a reddish tinge about them. I. Pseudoviolacea lives up to its name by resembling a violet. It is small growing and produces wonderfully delicate little flowers.