When you saw the genus name Impatiens you probably thought of the bedding impatient (Impatiens wallerianna) and it is not that one. This impatient is also called touch-me-not from its habit of throwing its seed as far as 20 feet when the ripe seed bud bursts open. It is an old fashioned plant popular in shade gardens from Victorian times up to the 50’s but has fallen out of favor and is not often seen now days. I used to grow it every year from seed but have not seen the seeds in stores in recent years. What a shame because it is easy to grow, blooms continuously from summer to frost, and comes in a large variety of colors. Give it moist soil and some shade and it will delight you for months, ignoring heat and humidity. Unlike its cousin, the bedding impatient, it is a true annual but it reseeds and will continue to grace your garden unless you chose to pull up the seedlings, an easy task. Attractive when used in shady borders or woodland gardens. If all of this does not convince you of the merits of rose balsam, consider that parts of the plant can be used to treat skin problems, the juice to treat warts and snakebites, and the flowers to cool the skin after a burn.
Bloom: White, pink, red, pink, purple, and bicolor, 1-1 ½ “ double or single flowers from summer to frost. Flowers may be spotted.
Size: 12-36” H x 12-14” W.
Light: Thrives in part sun to shade but tolerates full sun if moisture available.
Soil: Moist,well drained.
Heat Tolerance: AHS 12 – 1.
Care: Pinch back stems when seedling are 4” tall to promote branching.
Pests and Diseases: None of significance.
Propagation: Seeds or cuttings.
Companion plants: Shade plants such as hostas, ferns, tiarella, astilbes.
Outstanding selections: The Ice series ( “Blackberry Ice’, ‘Peach Ice’ etc) has variegated foliage and double flowers.