Impatiens Walleriana

As mentioned above many lizzies which are sold in garden centers are hybrids that has enabled this species to become more compact in it’s growth and display attractive flower varieties. These delightful flowering plants brighten up patios or conservatories and have become one of the most popular bedding and hanging basket plants.

Breeders have worked hard over the years to cultivate the best of impatiens which includes the New Guinea hybrids that produce multicolored leaves.

Flowering: Impatiens are well known for blooming for the most part of a year which is where the name is derived from “BUSY”. Flowers bloom (1 -2in flat faced with 5 petals) in a variety of colors including pink, red, white, orange, lilac and a range of bicolored types with white stripes.

The flowers from the hybrid types while in full bloom cover the whole of the foliage, which is why they have become such fascinating bedding plants for parks and gardens.

The problem getting busy lizzies to flower indoors is providing the plant with enough light, which they thrive on. Conservatories are ideal or close to a window that receives plenty of sun, but not too much summer direct sun.

Foliage: Leaves and the flowers which grow are produced along the brittle succulent type stem that can grow over a foot long. There are just as many leaf varieties (if not more ) than the choice of flowers available, which includes dark green, light green, bicolored, and variegated.

Growing and care: The most trickiest part of growing impatiens indoors is providing enough light, keeping temperatures above 60°F (15°C), and watering enough. More about caring below.

Pots of colour

Busy Lizzie is the common name for impatiens and you can see why. They are the sort of plant that just knows what to do; no special treatment is required to get them to bloom. Simply plant them and leave them to it.

Many traditional types have required some protection from midday sun, but the newer hybrids thrive in full sun. This means impatiens can be enjoyed all around the house, planted on both sunny and darker sides.

The flower colours range from crisp clean whites through to numerous shades of lipstick pink, to rich magenta, sunset oranges, red, salmon and two toned as well. Single blooms are the most widely grown, however, the double hybrids are impressive.

Plant these bedding plant impatiens in part sun or full shade.

Gently does it

Impatiens are not a big fan of frost and cold temperatures. So, in the warm regions get planting now, but, if you are in a cold pocket, maybe just sow your seeds, ready for planting out in November. Prepare the garden by blending in a little flower fertiliser or leftover tomato or strawberry food, avoid anything high in nitrogen. Seedlings will be everywhere soon. You will find seeds on stands in the shops and online through Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds from the middle of the month.

Bedding Impatiens

These showy annuals provide colourful carpets of colour that resemble a woven tapestry or Persian rug. Go crazy planting as many of these as you can fit in. Allow two hand spaces – 20cm – between each plant. These annual ones are the best for baskets and window boxes as they have low spreading growth habits and a shallow root systems. The bigger perennial ones are harder to manage in areas with limited root room.


A group of perennial impatiens, these are the ones to plant in a sunny spot. I have had these for a few years now and they certainly add some serious flower power to the garden. The trick to keeping them at their best is to make sure they are in a super large pot – twice the size of a kitchen bucket – as the root zone is a lot larger than you would imagine it to be. Keeping them in a smaller pot means they will need watering every day. I overwinter mine indoors, which is quite cool as they still poke out the odd bloom through the season.

NEW: SunPatiens Spreading ‘Pink Flash’

Nothing like a little flash to get the heart racing, and with this new impatiens it looks like it will please anyone who plants it. The pretty two-toned effect comes from a blend of salmon-pink darker petals with a series of soft shell-pink petals. The combination is eye-catching. Perennial impatiens are lovely in full sun. Use them to decorate your patio or entranceway, anywhere you want to make a statement. In winter, as mine are in pots, I sneak them inside, where they overwinter just fine.

Impatiens walleriana

  • Attributes: Genus: Impatiens Species: walleriana Family: Balsaminaceae Life Cycle: Annual Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Country Or Region Of Origin: South East Kenya to South Tropical Africa Play Value: Attractive Flowers Colorful Defines Paths Shade Dimensions: Height: 0 ft. 8 in. – 2 ft. 0 in. Width: 0 ft. 10 in. – 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Annual Habit/Form: Mounding Spreading
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day) Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: High Organic Matter Soil pH: Neutral (6.0-8.0) Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Moist Available Space To Plant: Less than 12 inches NC Region: Coastal Mountains Piedmont Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit: Fruit Type: Capsule Fruit Description: This plant produces explosive capsules that roll suddenly inward and have a ribbed, rubbery-succulent texture.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Orange Pink Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy White Flower Value To Gardener: Long Bloom Season Showy Flower Bloom Time: Fall Spring Summer Flower Size: 1-3 inches Flower Description: Flowers are solitary on elongated pedicels, are conspicuously spurred, are calyx with 5 lobes, 2 lateral green lobes, and are narrow. Petals have anthrocyanin pigments and prominent spurs. Flowers have a wide variety of color: orange, pink, red, white, and purple.

  • Leaves: Leaf Color: Green Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Opposite Leaf Shape: Elliptical Ovate Leaf Margin: Crenate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Leaves are alternate to opposite, ovate to elliptic, crenate with minute stalked glands rising upward, acute to subacuminate, are green in color, and sometimes have a tinge of red.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Description: Stems are suberect to decumbent, branching, and bear leaves.
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Container Hanging Baskets Naturalized Area Patio Pool/Hardscape Small Space Walkways Woodland Landscape Theme: Cottage Garden Shade Garden Design Feature: Accent Border Foundation Planting Mass Planting Small groups Attracts: Butterflies Hummingbirds Pollinators

The busy Lizzie is a very popular guest in homely flower beds, on balconies, around traffic lights or in flowerpots. The decorative plant blooms for a long time and intensively and rewards good caretaking with a grand blossoming. The care instructions explain all that is important for professional care of the Impatiens Walleriana and shows how you can best optimize the growth and bloom without great effort.

Plant Profile

  • Plant family: Balsaminaceae
  • Genus: Impatiens
  • Order: Ericales
  • Trivial names: Balsam, Sultana, Impatiens
  • Origin: East and south-east of Africa
  • herbaceous, strong plant with a bushy growth
  • Height of growth: 20 to 40 centimeters, sometimes up to 70 centimeters
  • simple, half-filled or fully filled out blossoms in white, orange, red, rose, violet or pink
  • blossoming from May until October
  • changeable, oval, evergreen leaves
  • frost-sensitive and mostly growing for one year

The busy Lizzie truly brings honor to her name: The comparatively easy care decorative flower blossoms during the whole summer until the start of fall without pause and thus stays busy for the whole time. Numerous blossoms in shining colors, lying closely next to each other, decorate the bushy Impatiens Walleriana and form a colorful contrast to the juicy-green foliage.

The frost-sensitive plant originates in the east and south-east of Africa and mostly grows for one year. In these care instructions you come to know under which conditions it grows best and produces the largest amount of blossoms.

The Impatiens Walleriana came to Europe at the end of the 19th century, originating in the east and south-east of Africa. Today the blossoming of plants on balconies, terraces and gardens is not imaginable without it.


The amount of care needed for the Impatiens Walleriana is moderate. If a few aspects regarding the plant’s care are attended to, it will be possible to enjoy the blossoming decorative flower during summer and fall.


The Impatiens Walleriana prefers light shadow or locations in semi-shadow. Direct exposition to the sun causes burns on the sensitive plants; a location too dark on the other hand harms the blossoming. The location should also be protected from wind. Temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius are ideal for growth.


The Impatiens Walleriana flourishes best in loose, humid and permeable substrate. Regular flower soil is generally sufficient. A substrate that is low in nutrients can be improved by adding some compost to increase the permeability and make it higher in nutrients.


The busy Lizzie is classified as a summer flower and is sensitive to cold, which is why it is only to be planted after the last frost of the winter. It is best to be planted starting from the mid of May. For this, especially healthy and strong plants, which have already developed some blossoms, are advised to be used. Several plants should be planted, each 20 to 30 centimeters apart from the next.

For those who want to plant their Impatiens Walleriana in a flower box or a pot it is advised not to choose one that is too large. In smaller containers, the roots of the flower are closer to each other, which makes the plant develop more blossoms.


The busy Lizzie consumes quite a lot of water. For this, the plant is also called “Süüfferli” in Switzerland, which roughly translates as “drinker”. The substrate should always be kept moist. The watering should be done regularly, as neither dryness nor superfluous water is good for the plant. Thus, if the flower is placed on a balcony or in a pot, a water-permeable pot or container should be chosen, so that superfluous water can drizzle out.

If the temperature rises above 25 degree Celsius during a long period of time, that can be harmful to the sensitive leaves. In case of such temperatures, it is advisable to spray the flowers with some water. The blossoms should be kept from the water’s direct impact as much as possible.


The Impatiens Walleriana reacts sensitive to large amounts of fertilizer, which is why it is enough to give the plants some fluid fertilizer every two weeks. A product with a low dose of fertilizer is advisable. Through this, the blossoming will be additionally stimulated.

After blossoming

Withered blossoms can be plucked off the plant, which stimulates growth of new blossoms. If the Impatiens Walleriana is completely withered, it can be removed from the substrate and be thrown into the ecological trash or be composted.


The Impatiens Walleriana is usually cultivated for the period of one year. Ambitious amateur gardeners can however try to let the flower overwinter in the house and thus prolong its lifespan for a further year. Many specimens of the Impatiens Walleriana even continue blossoming in their wintry home.

As soon as the outside temperature goes consistently below 10 degree Celsius or less, the plant must be brought inside. This is mostly the case during September. Plants in a flower bed should be removed from it and put in pots, while potted plants, balcony flowers and similar arrangements are supposed to be moved into the winter quarters as they are.

With the following conditions, a decorative flower has good chances to survive the winter:

  • it needs a well-lit location
  • the basement or other dusky places are inappropriate
  • the room does not need to be heated, but should be warmer than 10 degrees
  • ideally, the temperature should be between 10 and 15 degrees
  • the Impatiens Walleriana should not be fertilized under any circumstances while it is resting during the winter
  • the plant must be watered only moderately

A light, cool winter quarter could for example be the following:

  • a conservatory
  • a hallway
  • a staircase
  • a window ledge

From the mid of May, when the temperatures are not consistently under 10 degrees anymore, the Impatiens Walleriana can be brought back outside. It should best be put into a new pot or be planted into a flower bed. The fresh substrate helps the busy Lizzie to renew its growth.


In spring it is usually possible to buy strong, young specimens of the Impatiens Walleriana at garden shops, discounters or at other vendors for a fair price. For those who wish to cultivate their own busy Lizzies however, there are two possibilities. These are seeds and cuttings. In the month of May of the year following the planting of such cultivated specimens, they can be moved outside into a flower bed or put into their own pot.


The Impatiens Walleriana develops seed capsules which grow to be 1.5 to 2 centimeters in size. As soon as they are mature, the light green capsule directly opens already at a light touch and spreads its seeds explosively in the surrounding area. If one wants to grow their own busy Lizzies they should thus be careful.

It is best to reap the seed capsules shortly before they mature. To do this, the capsules should be grabbed quickly and completely engulfed by the hand and consequently be cut off from the plant. To make it possible for them to mature afterwards, the seeds should be placed in a tall, open container and be placed in a warm and dry spot of the house.


Reaped or bought seeds should be sown between February and March. For this, a pot should be filled with cultivation soil and the seeds be placed on top of it. The seeds should not be covered by substrate, as the Impatiens Walleriana sprouts in light. The pot is afterwards best placed on a window ledge. The seeds sprout most quickly at temperatures between 16 and 18 degree Celsius.


The Impatiens Walleriana is eager to grow and can also be multiplied via its branches.

  • remove one branch from the main plant
  • remove all leaves on the lower third of the branch
  • fill a small pot with some cultivation soil and put the cutting in it
  • water the cutting and make sure that the soil stays slightly moist at all times
  • put the pot in a well-lit location, ideally with both morning and evening sunshine

The pot should afterwards be covered with a transparent cover, or alternatively, a small plastic bag. Through this, a moist, warm climate is created, which stimulates growth. The substrate is also additionally kept moist through this measure, which is highly advisable. After approximately three to four weeks, when the first roots start to build, the cover can be removed.

Alternatively, the cutting can be grown in a room conservatory. Principally, the busy Lizzie can be multiplied with cuttings throughout the whole year. The best time to cut off branches is during fall, however, so that the cutting has time to grow until the coming spring.


The robust Impatiens Walleriana is relatively resistant against vermin. It is, however, susceptible to vermin if mistakes are made in taking care of the plant, for example by giving it too much water. Those cases are however easily resolved.


The aphid, one of the most common vermin types in gardens, is not stopping at the Impatiens Walleriana. The insects, which are a few millimeters in size, mostly sit on the leaves’ undersurface and can be distinguished by plain eyesight. An infestation is noticeable due to sticky honeydew.

The infested plant should be sprayed immediately and thoroughly from all sides with stinging nettle slurry or with a mixture of water and curd soap. After two to three days the treatment should be repeated. The procedure should be repeated until no aphids are discernable anymore.

Red Spider

If the Impatiens Walleriana is exposed to warm and dry air for a longer period of time, it can be infested by red spiders. These are approximately 0.6 millimeters in size and mostly visible only through lenses.

They are recognized through the following symptoms:

  • the leaves are coated with fine webs
  • small, light stains show up
  • the leaves turn yellow at a later stage, until they then turn brown and wither

The plant should first be sprayed with warm water, which removes part of the spiders from the leaves. After this, the busy Lizzie should be sprayed with a conventional plant protection spray. This procedure should be repeated after two weeks.


Young plants develop a disease in which the plants damp off. This is caused by soil fungi which kill the busy Lizzie. Infested plants cannot be saved from this. Before placing a new plant in the soil, the latter should be treated with fungicides. Alternatively, the soil that is infested should be spaciously replaced with fresh substrate.

With the following measures this disease can be prevented:

  • the use of seeds that are treated with fungicides
  • the young plants should not be placed too close to each other
  • waterlogging should be prevented
  • the Impatiens Walleriana should only be watered each time that the upper range of the soil is dry
  • substrate that is not very permeable also helps the spread of hazardous soil fungi
  • the substrate should be enriched with compost if needed


The wide range of types and different cultivated variations of the busy Lizzie add to its popularity. There are over a thousand variations all over the globe. They differ especially in regards to color, but also pattern and shape of the plant’s blossoms. At this point, an overview of the most popular variants of the Impatiens Walleriana is given.

Impatiens Walleriana Victorian Rose

With their blossoms filled by half in dark red and dark pink color variations the Victorian Rose type is reminiscent of roses. The decorative plant grows up to 20 centimeters high and has dark green leaves.

Impatiens Walleriana Blackberry Ice

The Blackberry Ice version is defined by its fully filled out blossoms in intense fuchsia color. The green leaves sometimes have a decorative yellow edge. The plant grows up to 30 centimeters high.

Impatiens Walleriana Candy (series)

The Impatiens Walleriana is impressive due to its especially large blossoms with five blossom leaves each. This compactly growing variation is a series, which includes several cultivation variations with differing blossom colors. The busy Lizzies of the Candy type grow in red, white, violet, light rose, orange, salmon and neon orange.

Impatiens Walleriana Tempo (series)

A further variation of the plant is the Tempo variation. This Impatiens Walleriana grows particularly bushy and gets up until 25 centimeters high. Its unfilled blossoms are, among other colors, mostly white, orange, red and pink. Some variations of the Tempo series have blossom leaves in two colors.

Impatiens Walleriana Fiesta (series)

The busy Lizzie of the Fiesta series has extensive leaves, which are filled out and ruffled. This series, too, is distinguished by its wide color variation. The cultivated plants are available in red, pink and rose, among others. The variation grows carpet-like and reaches a maximum height of 40 centimeters.

Impatiens Walleriana Elfin

Unfilled blossoms are a characteristic of the Elfin variant, while they reflect light intensively. Apart from red, white, rose, salmon and pink blossoms there are also multi-colored variations. The decorative plant grows up to 25 centimeters high and was cultivated first in Costa Rica.

Let’s get busy

Old favourites such as sweet peas, marigolds, pansies and lobelias still dominate the list of top-selling flowers to grow from seed. But newcomers zoom in from time to time, like impatiens (busy lizzy), which now seems so bossily entrenched in catalogues, you dare not remind it that back in the Seventies, it scarcely existed as a garden pet.

Impatiens were a success because they didn’t rebel when pulled about by seed breeders. In the wild, as I have seen them in Costa Rica, they make tall, rangy plants, the leaves and flowers well spaced out on lengths of fleshy stem. Busy lizzies offer two important benefits to gardeners: they flower as well in shade as in sun and they keep going all summer with the minimum of teabreaks. Snapdragons tend to run out of steam by midsummer, even if you do as you’re told and cut off the main spike when it has finished flowering.

Impatiens also has the type of broad, largeish flower that breeders can deal with easily; though fiddly, hand pollinating is the first necessary step in producing new varieties. The initial aim was to reduce height. By shortening the internodes (the sections of bare stem between the leaves) breeders turned a two-foot plant into a six-inch one. There were plenty of gardeners who thought this a Good Thing. But because compactness is not a natural characteristic, impatiens sometimes rebels and grows twice as high as its catalogue description suggests. This is a cause for celebration not complaint, no matter what the Trades Description Act says.

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Colour was the next target, pushing the original dirty pink towards blue in one direction and peach in the other. Gardeners like peach and this year Thompson & Morgan are launching a new impatiens called ‘Envoy Peach Butterfly’ (£2.49 for 30 seeds). At 30-35cm it is relatively tall (good) and they say it is particularly vigorous, a good choice for containers.

Unfortunately, seed of impatiens is not easy to germinate. You need to think tropical and keep growing conditions warm and humid. Use compost with added vermiculite to improve drainage. Fill a five-inch pot with the mixture before sowing seed as thinly as possible. This is best done in March. Cover the seed with a fine layer of compost and water the pot. Cover with clingfilm and then a sheet of card to keep out the light.

A highish temperature (21-24C) will encourage seeds to germinate and, if you’ve got the conditions right, you should see the first green wisps within two weeks. Take off the covers as soon as the seedlings appear and keep them warm (18C) as they grow on. When they are sturdy plantlets, shift them on into single three-inch pots and set them out at the end of May, when frost is no longer a danger.

You can avoid all this anguish by ordering ready grown small plants such as the best-selling Impatiens ‘Accent’ or the two new varieties offered by Mr Fothergill, Impatiens ‘Dezire Mystique Mixed’ or ‘Dezire Sunrise Mixed’. All these are available at three stages of growth: fotherminis (150 plants for £10.95), fothermidis (66 plants for £9.95) or fothermaxis (28 plants for £9.45). Orders for minis and midis must be in by the beginning of March for despatch late March-early April. Get orders for the ready-to-plant maxis in by the begining of May for despatch mid to late May.

The easiest plants to grow from seed, especially if you are a beginner, are hardy annuals such as English marigolds (Calendula officinalis), love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) and poppies. You can be very casual with these. I use them to cover the ground where my species tulips grow. This is a south-facing slope covered, for the sake of the tulips, in gravel. Sometime during April, before the tulips have quite finished, I scatter seed of Californian poppy and love-in-a-mist straight on to the gravel. Plenty enough germinate to give a show all the way through summer.

One of the most successful hardy annuals in our garden last year was Nigella hispanica (Chiltern Seeds £1.90) which has much deeper flowers than ordinary love-in-a mist. They are purplish blue with a boss of reddish stamens at the centre. The seedpods are extravagantly wonderful, curving from an urn shape into eight horned tips. For the longest display of annuals such as these, sow again in September. Seedlings from this sowing will be well established by now and will come into flower earlier than your April sown seed.

Style queens may already have noticed that the must-have annuals of the moment are bishop’s flower (Ammi majus) and the white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora). Both were spectacularly well-used in show gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show last year and both have that boho, slightly wild look that works as well in a garden as it does in a vase. Ammi (Thompson & Morgan £1.59) has quite chunky foliage and heads of white flower like cow parsley. Like the best kind of aunt, it is at home in any company. I sowed it on 26 August last year and by autumn had fine, fat plants to set out together with lilies and tulips. This way, I’ll get three flowerings from the same patch of ground, with the ammi filling in the months between the spring tulips and the lilies of high summer.

I sowed orlaya (Thompson and Morgan £1.79) at the same time and in the same way, setting the seeds in a five-inch pot and letting them grow on together before pricking them out singly into three-inch pots. This extra attention means that, by late October, you get really well-rooted plants to put into the ground. Autumn-sown plants tend to grow taller than spring ones. At 60cm, orlaya is shorter than ammi (100cm) so you need to use it further forward in a border. The heads of white flower are differently made, flattish still but with several big pouting petals arranged among the froth of smaller ones.

From a spring sowing, you can expect flowers after three months and, outside, they’ll look good for the next two months or so. You can use them as cut flowers too, though they won’t last more than a week or so in a vase. But seed is cheap and the flowers are easy to grow. Sow a row of ammi or orlaya among the vegetables, and use those for cutting. That way, you don’t have to rob the garden……….

Impatiens, Busy Lizzie, Patience

Impatiens, busy lizzie or patience, is an annual flower with nonstop blossoms in many colors. It has a tidy, mounding form and self-cleaning flowers that make it an ideal low-maintenance plant.

Annuals Image Gallery


­Description: Breeders have developed compact, branching plants whose flowers are borne above the foliage. Flowers are white, pink, rose, orange, scarlet, burgundy, and violet, with many bicolored variants. Foliage is deep, glossy green or bronze in color. Most specimens grow 12 to 15 inches high.

Propagation: Sow seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date. Germination takes 10 to 20 days at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a sterile soil mix, because young impatiens seedlings are subject to damping off. A fungicide is recommended. Cuttings root in 10 to 14 days.

How to grow: Impatiens will grow in any average soil and prefers dappled shade. It requires lots of moisture and fertilizer to bloom well. In deep shade, bloom diminishes.

Uses: Impatiens can be used in beds, borders, planting strips, and containers. The plants are beautiful in hanging baskets and planters.

Related species: New Guinea impatiens grows in full sun and has larger and showier flowers. Leaves can be green or variegated.

Scientific name: Impatiens wallerana

Impatiens is also a great plant for the house. Read how to bring about as many flowers as possible in your living room impatiens on the next page.

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