Botanical Name: Impatiens hawkeri
Plant Type : Annual
Mature Size: 1-3 feet
Sun Exposure: Partial Shade - Filtered Sun
Bloom Time: Continuous
Planting Zones: Hardy in zones 10-12. An annual in all other zones.
In this article we want to go over, in detail, new guinea impatiens care and how to get the best blooms possible.
Impatiens in general are one of the most popular bedding plants today. Their flowers bloom during the entire growing season and they are very plentiful - creating a great appearance.
The type of impatiens we want to cover here however, although used frequently in flower beds, are even more popular as a potted plant or in hanging baskets, and that is the "new guinea" impatiens. New guineas are, arguably, the second most popular type of impatiens.
One word to keep in mind: finicky. Yes, these plants can be somewhat finicky so it helps to know how to plant and care for them properly to increase the chances of wonderful blooms and attractive plants.
Characteristics Of New Guinea Impatiens
First, fyi, the name "impatiens" is both singular and plural. One plant is called an impatiens with more than one are still impatiens. Got that? Great! Enough with the grammar lesson.
New Guinea impatiens are tropical plants that originated in New Guinea, hence the name.
They sport beautiful leaves that are dark green with a pointed shape. Compared the the regular (bedding) impatiens or "impatiens walleriana," the foliage on new guineas is quite beautiful and can stand out on it's own.
Interestingly, some new guineas have variegated foliage, in deep green, yellows and pinks, making them even more spectacular than the other varieties. Take a look at the spectacular plant below.
This image is of the "celebrette light coral" variety.
We hesitate to identify actual varieties and colors of the same plant because generally, unless you're shopping online for plants, most stores and nurseries do not carry every variety of every plant known to man. The chances are you seeing a plant image online and then finding it at a retail store to purchase might be slim.
If fact, we have never seen this one in person, but I wish we have.
Besides the foliage, then you have the flowers - which are also bigger and brighter on new guineas than the standard impatiens. They consist of 5 peddles that surround a button center. Those big, bright and showy flowers, growing on a backdrop of the deep green foliage create a look that's hard to beat.
New guinea impatiens grow from 1-2 feet tall and will grow together in mounds if planted together in a garden.
New Guinea impatiens are planted as annuals in most parts of the country - they grow from spring until the end of the growing season. They cannot tolerate cold and will be killed by frost, so only in the warmest climates are they a perennial.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Like most other impatiens (except for the SunPatiens), new guineas like partial shade. However, unlike others, they can tolerate some sun, especially if it's morning sun and not in the heat of the day.
Therefore, the best location for these plants is in a shade garden that gets filtered sun during most of the day and some sun in the morning - although that's not necessary.
The absoulte best location for planting is on the east or northeast side of a home, which will get the morning sun instead of the western sun that shines brightly in the hottest part of the afternoon. Think shade or limited sun and you'll be doing OK.
Fertilizing New Guinea Impatiens
When planting, be sure to add some organic matter to the soil, whether it's compost, manure, or other organic materials.
What we do is either add compost or, if none is available, we use "Miracle Gro Garde Soil" for gardens, using a mixture of 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 Miracle Grow and adding it to the native soil.
In addition, we'll add a slow release fertilizer such as "Osmocote" when planting.
Since you want them to continue blooming all year, giving them some supplemental fertilizer during the growing season is also wise. Use a general purpose water-soluble fertilizer (one that dissolves in water) and apply it 3-4 times during the year.
Do not use granular fertilizers as these can be too harsh if applied incorrectly and could burn the plants and do more harm than good.
The Best Watering Plan For The Best Plants
The best watering plan for these plants depends on how wet or dry they are in any point in time. The main thing to keep in mind is they are NOT drought tollerant.
Impatiens in general like to be moist and won't take to drying out for long. Indeed, new guinea impatiens will dry out and droop quickly in the hot summer heat. The good news is that if you see them drooping, and I mean drooping pretty substantially, giving them a drink of water will have them bouncing back like new very quickly.
We find it amazing as to how quickly they bounce back. Sometimes it seems like you can blink and they will be back to normal. In reality, it may take a few hours.
That being said, they also don't like sitting in water, so it's important you prepare the soil with rich organic matter that will drain well. For us, this means adding "peat moss" which helps aerate the soil and keeps it draining well.
There is a best watering practice, which applies to all plants which involves knowing how moist the soil is at any one point in time. This depends on the weather where you are and will eventually come to you over time, once you get used to determining the soil moisture based on your weather.
Is it hot and dry? When was the last rain? Are they planted in the ground? In pots? Potted plants will dry out quicker. All of this plays a part in how often you water. For new guinea impatiens care, it's important to get a grasp on watering. We have an excellent article about this exact thing RIGHT HERE.
For now, just know that watering frequency depends on where they are planted and the weather.
In general, we don't like giving a specific watering schedule for any plant because watering can't be broken down into a simple every one day, every 2 days, etc. all the time for all plants.... but, if you must have some guidance...
If it's hot and dry and they are planted in the ground, watering once per day or once every 2 days is probably necessary. On the other hand, during cooler periods, watering every 4-5 days will most likely be OK. Of couse it depends on the amount of rain you're getting. Just don't let them dry out.
Conclusions - New Guinea Impatiens Care
The conclusions you should make after knowing what we've mentioned above about care of new guinea impatiens have been summarized below. Follow these recomendations and you should have the best odds of success.
- Plant new guinea impatiens in parital sun, 4-6 hours per day - preferably filtered or morning sun.
- Full shade is also OK, as long as it's filtered sun. Don't plant in dark wooded areas however.
- Keep plants moist - don't let them dry out for too long.
- Fertilize every 4-6 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
- When planting, add a slow release fertilizer. We use "osmocote."
- Keep a closer watch on potted new guineas, as they will dry out quicker.
Of course, as with most plants, and gardening in general, you'll never know for sure how a plant will do in any one location. The best you can do is get as close to the ideal situation as possible and try it.
Unbelievably, we've actually had situations where we've planted a variety in one location and it didn't work, then planted it in another garden, just feet away and it did wonderful. Sometimes, mother nature is in charge. Just remember that.
Planting new guinea impatiens should be on your list of "must do's," for their sheer beauty. We encourage you to try them.
For more resources and more information on new guinea impatiens care, see this resource: http://www.onlineplantguide.com/Plant-Details/1237/